Tori Shmon graduated this spring from USask’s College of Arts and Science, with a Bachelor of Science degree with great distinction in physiology and pharmacology. She said it was “surreal” to receive an email informing her about the Governor General’s Silver Medal, one of the most prestigious awards that a student in a Canadian educational institution can receive.
“I’ve put a lot of time into my studies over the last four years, so it’s a big honour to be recognized for that effort,” she said.
Shmon will be among the award-winning students to be celebrated by the College of Arts and Science on June 30 during its Convocation awards broadcast. She has also received the Earl of Bessborough Prize in Science—fitting for someone who has always been interested in science.
“I’ve liked science as long as I can remember. I think it had a bit to do with the fact that my mom is a vet, so I grew up learning from her—and that interest just increased as I learned more throughout school,” she said.
Shmon chose to study physiology and pharmacology because of her interest in the human body. She has been accepted into USask’s College of Medicine and is “really excited to continue studying science and looking at the body’s functions through a medical lens.”
“I liked learning how our bodies function throughout our lives, and how changes in that functioning can result in conditions that I’ve seen in family and friends,” she said. “I also loved learning about how we can modify those processes in the body through drugs and technology. I really enjoyed the real-life application of the pharmacology because I could understand how the drugs in my medicine cabinet actually worked.”
Shmon was born in Saskatoon and raised on an acreage about 15 minutes outside of the city. She attended rural elementary and high schools before coming to USask, graduating from Clavet Composite School. Throughout her childhood years, she kept busy with competitive figure skating and dance, as well as by focusing on school.
As a university student, Shmon worked as a tutor and as a part-time associate at a clothing store. She also volunteered with two programs offered by SaskAbilities, as well as with the Physical Activity for Active Living (PAAL) program at USask. Offered to children and youth with physical and intellectual impairments, the goal of PAAL is to provide a variety of physical activity experiences with an emphasis on fun, skill development and social interaction.
“I’ve always really liked kids, and I’ve been really fortunate to get involved with some organizations that work with them,” Shmon said.
To achieve her 96.65-per-cent average, Shmon was able to balance her outside interests and hobbies with her academic goals. She has two pieces of advice for students who may want to follow in her footsteps, noting the advice “took me a while to learn myself.”
“The first would be to experiment with different methods of notetaking and studying. Find a way of studying that works the best for you, whether it’s diagrams, quizzes or rhymes with the material,” she said. “Second, take those breaks. It’s really important to break up your studies with other activities that you like to do. In addition to being healthy, it’ll also help you work more effectively when you come back to the books.”
For Shmon, one of the best parts of studying in the College of Arts and Science was the “wide array” of classes she was able to take. She also enjoyed meeting new people and making friends.
“I think the biggest reason I chose to study at the University of Saskatchewan was for a support network. I’m really grateful to have grown up so close to a great school,” she said. “At (USask), I could continue my education while staying in close contact with my friends and family. Having that social support has been a big blessing to me throughout my years at university.”