Six graduates with perfect grades win Governor General’s medals

Six undergraduate students with perfect GPAs will be receiving the Governor General’s Medal at this year’s spring convocation. From left to right: Kevin Earl, Drew Martin, Zahide Alaca, Stephen Jones, Suzanne Blanchard (Associate Vice-President Students and Enrolment and University Registrar), Nima Hoda and Christopher Mattice. (Chris Roussakis Photo)

For the first time in Carleton’s history, six students will be receiving the Governor General’s Medal for graduating at the top of the class with perfect grade point averages (GPA).

Medal winner Christopher Mattice, 21, says there were some difficult stretches during his studies to maintain the marks, but he was able to pull through it. “It feels amazing. The Governor General’s Medal wasn’t really something I expected, so it was a surprise when I got the news.”

The biochemistry major is graduating with a Bachelor of Science honours degree and will be returning to Carleton for his master of science in chemistry this fall.

Fellow science honours graduate Kevin Earl says he just worked hard in school and never put pressure on himself to do well. “I’m honoured by the award and happy to be receiving it. I just try to do the best I can in my classes and get good marks,” says the 22-year-old mathematics and physics major, who will be pursuing his master of science degree in particle physics at Carleton.

“I’m really thankful for my family for a supportive environment at home, and my friends and my professors,” Zahide Alaca, who has earned her honours Bachelor of Social Work degree.

Alaca is working at Carleton this summer in the Kids in Ottawa Project and will continue as the local co-ordinator when she starts her master’s degree in social work in September.

Computer science graduate Drew Martin says after getting a perfect GPA in his first year, he was hoping to get the award.

“I was surprised and thought, ‘I wonder if I can keep that up,’ so I pushed for it,” says the 26-year-old, who is working as a web developer at Ottawa company Benbria.

Nima Hoda, 30, says he hadn’t heard of the medal before but was always aiming to do his best. “I was just working very hard to maintain my GPA, which once you have one semester or two semesters of all A-pluses, it becomes very stressful,” he says with a laugh.

Hoda will be pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics at McGill next year, after graduating with an honours bachelor of mathematics degree in computer science and mathematics, concentrating in computing theory and numerical methods.

Cognitive science graduate Stephen Jones says the medal was definitely something he wanted and was very excited to receive the news.

“Every year I thought for sure I’d let something slip, but it turns out that was not the case,” says Jones, who specialized in cognition and psychology. The 32-year-old will be pursuing a master of clinical science degree in audiology at Western University.

Each winner is also being awarded the University Medal for graduating with the highest standing in their program.

“The response that we’ve had is how proud the faculty are of these students and of this accomplishment,” says Katharine Kelly, the clerk of Senate and Marshal of Convocation. “The glory belongs to the students.”

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