Alumni Profile: Veronica Cencen

Alumni Profile: Veronica Cencen

Veronica was recently featured in Beijing Kids magazine. Here is a transcript of the article.

Timeline since High School

Since graduating from WAB in 2011, I applied and was accepted to the University of Ljubljana for a B.Sc. in Biotechnology. I continued my side career in rhythmic gymnastics, and also competed at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. In my third and final year, I went on a semester-long Erasmus exchange in Kaunas, Lithuania, where I was glad to be reunited with the culturally diverse educational community that I was used to. After completing my undergraduate degree in the summer of 2014, I applied for and was accepted into the University of Ottawa M.Sc. in Biomedical engineering, with a teaching assistantship in physics and research project in interdisciplinary nanotechnology and biophysics.

Besides education and gymnastics, I always found some interesting and beneficial opportunities on the side as well. I participated in a variety of volunteering and training activities, including animation in a retirement home, membership in a "green" group called Ecologists Without Borders, acceptance and participation into the Regional Biocamp 2014, attending start-up training camps, membership in the science-promoting group Let's Talk Science, coaching rhythmic gymnastics, and many others.

During this time, one of the most important life lessons I had learned is that it is important to gain experiences and help those in need as best as you can, but never allow yourself to be exploited or forced into doing what you do not feel is right in any way.

Looking Back
What I miss most about high school is the diversity of teaching methods and learning activities I was able to experience. It is in those years that our personality is influenced by our environment, particularly at school. I can therefore consider myself very privileged to have been introduced to so many opportunities, both in class, as well as in the form of extracurricular activities, school trips and on-campus social gatherings and fairs. However, I have since kept the motivation to seek these for myself, and in this way still feel connected to those years.

Social media has made it much simpler to stay in touch with friends. Yet, to strengthen the friendships I've come to value most, I try to keep in touch through other means as well, including Skype, "regular" mail, and, when possible, visiting in person. I made use of the study exchange, family trips, as well as nearby high school reunions, to catch up with old friends, even if just for a coffee. When I found out I would be going to Canada, I immediately tried to reestablish contacts with fellow alumni, and was very excited to be able to meet them again after so many years.

While I'm always looking for ways to grow and make a difference, I'm becoming increasingly aware of the value in being able to reconnect to my past experiences and friends. As one way to keep this balance, I've decided to take up the role of alumni representative in my region.

Advice for Students
I would certainly recommend to find out what interest you, what you find fun, and try to take advantage of the opportunities offered by your school to engage in activities in that field that are offered by the school. This is a great time to "experiment" by trying out different extracurricular activities, or see how well you can do in the one of your choice, as you will have plenty of support and guidance from your friends and the school staff. This will hopefully enable you to keep this motivation as you become more independent and face new challenges.

Benefits of Your Beijing Roots
In my opinion, being an international school student in Beijing was perhaps the best possible way to grow up! I became somewhat spoiled by the magic of such a culturally diverse educational environment, and simultaneously being able to experience the fascinating medley of tradition and accelerated modernization taking place in my city of residence. Much like our school, Beijing was a very active and inspiring city with many opportunities. I find that I am now able to bring this energy wherever I go.