St. Thomas More student Veronica Lucas will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. (Photo: Jacquie Berg)

STM graduate facing the future focused on the common good

Coming from a family of teachers, Veronica Lucas was always aware of the value of education.

“Educating yourself is always a good thing. Period,” said Lucas. “You never stop learning. I found the opportunity to advance human connection skills in my degree most valuable, with many of my liberal arts courses additionally serving as important training for critical thinking—helping me to understand and connect with people on another level.”

This spring, Lucas will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, with a minor in Critical Perspectives on Social Justice and the Common Good.

The minor is described as “an interdisciplinary course of study designed to prepare students to be responsible critics of contemporary societies and effective agents for positive social transformation.” This program is co-ordinated by St. Thomas More College (STM) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and can be completed in conjunction with any degree in the College of Arts and Science.

“I was attracted to the overlap between the two programs, with a focus on the common good. With my grandmother as inspiration, I saw much that I could learn from her, but also the areas of vulnerability for seniors and elderly. I would like to be the voice of those that cannot advocate for themselves—whether in areas of care, finances, or their health,” Lucas said.

There is a lot of Lucas family history with STM and USask. Veronica’s great grandfather was the Dean of Education, her parents and grandparents attended STM, and her great grandmother served as the curator at the college. So, although from Lloydminster, there was no questioning whether Veronica would follow her sister to Saskatoon upon graduation.

While Lucas started out enrolled in studies to become a nutritionist, a Newman Centre (the Catholic student club on campus) retreat ended up changing her direction.

“I realized more than anything, I wanted to help people. I felt connection more with the sociology courses, and since my existing electives applied, I forged ahead.”

Awarded a high school scholarship for social justice, and as STM’s Basilian Scholar award recipient in 2019, recognizing application of the student’s gifts in meeting community needs, Lucas joined STM’s Service and Justice Project—volunteering to serve marginalized community groups—in her first year at USask. Some of these projects included services support at Luther Care, weekly visits and card playing with Sherbrooke Community Centre residents and serving as a peer mentor at the college for the Service and Justice Project in her third year.

Lucas’s college extracurricular activities extended to Newman Centre, STM Just Youth, Peer Health, STM Strategic Planning Committee, reading at college liturgies, and as student representative for the STM corporation retreat. Social life and human interaction—a key focus of study in sociology—became collateral damage of required COVID-19 restrictions. 

“Completing a degree in a pandemic year was challenging, and a little disappointing in the student experience lost,” said Lucas. “Living in a basement suite, isolated from friends, and making the best of online learning, I was thankful for the chance to go in person to STM to study and escape. Although there was only limited access, I needed that campus experience to feel more like a typical student.”

“Maintaining connections with student clubs during COVID was also a challenge, but an opportunity to get creative,” Lucas shared. “While some events had to be cancelled, others survived by converting to virtual initiatives and through social media. It was exciting that we were still able to host from STM a national conference virtually—making connections with Catholic students from across Canada.”

“My work at Sherbrooke Community Centre continued last summer amidst COVID-19 restrictions,” Lucas added. “In these challenging times, you become family for many of the residents. I took them to appointments, was there to listen, and shared unique learning experiences.”

“Looking to the future, I hope to spend some time gathering real work and life experience and then perhaps go back to university for a social work degree. I would like to be a social worker in long-term care to help elderly patients transition.”

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