Thursday, July 26, 2007

Alumni Story: Braden

Braden`s Story...

I have spent a good deal of time reminiscing on my time at the University of Victoria since receiving your request, and, specifically, my time with the Medieval Studies department. I hope that within the following paragraphs (in Dantesque style) I can attempt to provide a picture of my time at UVic and where it has taken me.

When I had journeyed half my academic life’s way
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
For I had lost the path that does not stray.
Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,
that savage forest, dense and difficult,
which even in recall renews my fear:
So bitter- death is hardly more severe!
But to retell the good discovered there,
I’ll clearly tell the other things I saw.
I cannot clearly say how I entered
The wood; I was so full of misdirection just at
The point where I abandoned the true path.

Before my eyes there suddenly appeared
One who seemed faint because of the long silence.
When I saw him in that vast wilderness,
‘Have pity on me,’ were the words I cried,
‘Whatever you may be- a shade, a man.’
‘You see the dense forest that made me turn aside
Help me, oh famous sage, to navigate it,
For it has made my blood and pulses shiver.’

‘It is another path that you must take,’
He answered when he saw my tearfulness,
‘The savage wilderness that is the cause of your outcry
Allows no man to pass along its track,
But blocks him even to the point of death,
Its nature is so squalid, so malicious.
Therefore, I think and judge it best for you
To follow me, and I shall guide you, taking
You from this place, through an eternal place
That is the hallowed depths of medieval academia.
At UVic you shall see the souls who are content
And have achieved new heights.
If you would then ascend as high as these,
A soul more worthy than I will guide you.’

And I replied: ‘O Poet- by God
In whose grace all things are possible- I beg you,
That I may flee this evil and worse evils,
To lead me to the place of which you spoke.’
He then set out, and I moved on behind him
Into worlds unknown, worlds of storied travelers,
Famed poets, scholars, artists, into worlds
Of scientific discovery, feudal society, religion,
Persecution, war, plague and strife beyond measure.

When all was complete, my guides turned to me
Speaking: ‘Braden, though you are leaving, do not
Yet weep, do not weep yet, you’ll need your tears
For what another sword must yet inflict
In your graduate studies.’ As I turned,
I set my vision toward the slope that rises
Most steeply, up from graduation- from there,
In a land across the wide depths of Poseidon,
The land of the ancient celts,
I discovered the value of my Poet-guide’s
Sagacious preparations and lessons
For the path I had chosen, and,
It was from there that I emerged,
To see- once more- the stars.

All creativity aside, however, the UVic Medieval Studies programme has made me a better person and scholar- exposing me to a wide range of academic topics and sources in an entirely holisitic atmosphere. As a result, I feel my education was far more complete and, as an educator, I am now employing those strategies within my classrooms and lessons in order to increase depth and breadth of material. If someone is considering a future career in Medieval Studies at UVic, I wholeheartedly recommend they take full advantage of everything the programme has to offer as it will open their eyes and their minds providing them with the tools to succeed both within the academic world (I graduated from the University of Glasgow, MPhil ’05, UBC Education ’08) and in the business world (I worked as a policy analyst for the Government of British Columbia). UVic Medieval Studies was the best decision I ever made personally, professionally and academically.

Thank you for providing the opportunity for alumni like myself to tell our stories and for bring this programme to the forefront. I hope my humble words will provide some glimmer of hope to those currently searching for their paths.

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