Dean’s List grad advises ‘get out there, take risks’

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Reanne Mundadan of Mississauga embraced the challenge of Western’s highly competitive Medical Sciences program in her first year.

But she needed more.

Having studied in French through most of elementary school and throughout high school, “I realized that I really missed that part of me.”

So, she accelerated her pace, picked up her French and will graduate this month on the Dean’s List with a double major in French Studies and Medical Sciences.

On June 19, Mundadan will join more than 300,000 Western alumni living around the world as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2020.

She has a research internship studying communication between caregivers and people with dementia. When done her master’s, she plans to apply to Western’s School of Communications Sciences and Disorders with the intent of becoming a speech language pathologist.

“I’m fascinated by the science of communication,” said Mundadan, who volunteered at Parkwood Hospital and at a London program for people with aphasia (speech loss) for about six hours each week through her undergraduate years.

“I didn’t consider volunteering part of the workload. It was a break from it. It gave me an opportunity to interact with older adults and learn from them. It taught me different perspectives.”

She enjoyed the large size and fast pace of her Medical Sciences classes.

“When I started with my French major, I was able to appreciate the other side, with very small classes and more individual attention.”

It also pushed her to enroll in Western’s summer immersion experience at Trois-Pistoles for a five-week course one summer forging friendships that continue. “I met people from all over Canada, from coast to coast to coast, learning the French language and speaking it 24/7.”

Even when she struggled, it helped to have parents relatively nearby to boost her spirits.

“First and foremost, (I’m grateful for) my parents who are my light and who have always encouraged me to pursue my interests. I’m grateful to my roommates and friends who have become my family away from home and to all my professors who graciously shared their passions thereby cultivating my own.”

She wishes she’d had a chance to say a good farewell to campus, and that she hadn’t procrastinated so long in booking grad photos.

Still, she talks often with her friends and has a weekly online house party with family from India (she and her parents immigrated to Canada from Kerala, at India’s southernmost tip, when she was 4).

The summer after her first year of study, she went on a two-month student exchange in India where she and others from a wide variety of backgrounds worked with non-governmental organizations with youth in Mumbai.

Still, if she were to send a message to her first-year self, it would be to get out more. “I was almost waiting for opportunities to come knocking. I’d say, ‘Get out there. Take risks. Don’t be so afraid of failing.’”