October 30, 2009
The path to completing her master's degree was not a straightforward one for Angie Tysseland.
Tysseland will graduate this fall with a Master of Music, with a focus on conducting. After receiving her undergraduate degree in piano performance at the University of Saskatchewan, she freelanced, but her work took her in an unexpected direction.
“As I went along, I found I was doing a lot of conducting,” Tysseland said. She returned to the U of S to further her education and was two months from completing her final project when she encountered an unforeseen obstacle.
Tysseland was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in spring 2008 and postponed the completion of her degree to receive treatment. Despite the difficult situation, Tysseland said she felt support from everyone around her, including the music department.
“They had invested a lot into me, so I sort of felt like I was letting them down. But they basically just said, it's not about us. Take the time and do what you have to do.”
A fundraiser event that brought in nearly $30,000 to help Tysseland cover her expenses was held in October 2008, and was so successful that a second event, Trials by Fire II, has been planned for Oct. 28. All proceeds from this year's event, which features all Saskatchewan artists, will go to Ovarian Cancer Canada.
After treatment, she returned to the department and directed two full-scale productions of The Soldier's Tale by Igor Stravinsky, with the original libretto and a little-known one by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
“They say if you can conduct that, you can conduct anything,” Tysseland laughed.
Unfortunately, the cancer returned in April 2009. Doctors told her that with ovarian cancer, a recurrence is always fatal. Tysseland had yet to complete her written thesis, when she decided she had had enough and took a break. However, she quickly changed her mind about finishing.
“It was so close. The hard part was done. So one day I thought, I'm just going to do it.” She gave herself one day to work on the thesis, and by day's end, she had a completed draft.
“People ask, what reason is there to finish a degree if you're not going to use it? And the answer is – it's interesting! It's in the last stages of work that the rewards really come. Seeing it and holding it in your hands and having an audience – that's what makes it all worthwhile. And it wasn't a chore at all. It was thrilling.”
Having now completed her master's degree, Tysseland is writing new musicals, conducting and teaching chant at yoga studios. “I've just decided to make creativity my path. Music is the best healing method I can use for myself. It's the closest thing to me.”
For Matt Mazurik, his connection to the University of Saskatchewan began before he was born.
As the son of Bernie, a mechanical engineering alumnus, and Aileen, an alumna from arts and education, Mazurik's road to the U of S may have seemed pre-destined. But as he graduates with a four-year physiology degree from the College of Arts and Science this fall, he said there were other reasons he chose the U of S.
“We offer lots of health science programs and lots of graduate options,” Mazurik said. “Since I had a lot of family go here, I also knew they got a good education.”
Mazurik competed with the Huskies cross-country and track teams and now, as a graduate student in physical therapy, is able to continue as an athlete. “The athletics component has definitely been fun. You get to train with people with similar goals, and travel around Canada to compete against the best athletes.”
As part of the Huskie Athletics Council, made up of student athletes from each sport, Mazurik helped organize the Brainsport Brainfreeze, a fundraising run, and shoe drives that ultimately collected over 1,000 pairs of athletic footwear. Some of the shoes stayed in Saskatoon but others were sent to northern Saskatchewan and as far away as Africa.
“From an athlete's point of view, it's about helping athletes who have the same dreams and goals as I do, but who might not have the opportunity otherwise,” Mazurik said.
Now that his son is joining him as an alumnus, Bernie Mazurik can reflect on his own connection to the U of S. “I enjoyed being a student and I want all of our kids to go through the U of S. I know Matt's going to have close ties with the university down the road. There will be lifelong connections.”
Rahatjan Judge is not the stereotypical graduate student.
Judge will graduate this fall with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with high honours, and she is now working on her master's degree.
However, when she arrived in Canada in 2003, Judge already held a master's degree in engineering from the Kyrgyz Soviet Republic, where she is from originally. But she chose to return to the classroom to take her education in a new direction and began her undergraduate degree in economics at the University of Saskatchewan.
“We were looking for a university in Canada, so we did some research and thought, why not Saskatoon?” Judge said. “The campus is beautiful. And the thing I enjoy most about the city is that you can bike. When you're capable of doing what you value, it's double the satisfaction.”
During her time as an undergraduate student, she was awarded the department scholarship by the economics professors. In addition to excelling academically, Judge and her husband are raising a three-year old son named Eldar and she also takes time to volunteer, working with various groups on and off campus.
Instead of taking a break from her busy schedule, Judge jumped back into studies this fall. As part of her new role as a graduate student, she is working with students in economics 305, a class she herself just completed in 2008.
“It's very intense, but I'm enjoying it. It's just a matter of getting used to it, and the professors here are excellent. In comparison to bigger universities, they are very approachable.”