Sherry Wessel sits at a table in the library at VIU's Nanaimo campus

Gaining confidence and finding her crew

June 2, 2023

Meet valedictorian Sherry Wessel

At the start of her university journey, Bachelor of Education student Sherry Wessel was very shy. So shy, she shook when she had to talk in front of the class. As her program progressed, she became more confident in herself and as a teacher. Fast forward to today and she’s representing the Class of 2023 as a valedictorian at convocation. Sherry shares more about her VIU journey and some advice for students following the same path. 

Why did you choose VIU?

I started at another university before realizing I wanted to be closer to home. In my second year of university, I came to VIU as both of my sisters were/are currently in the same program here and it was a shorter trip to see my family. 

Can you share a highlight from your time at VIU?

In my third year of the program, we all had to stay at home and learn online. It was this year that we were placed into our group and each other in person for the first time. A memorable moment for me was getting to see their faces in person for the first time in year four. It was like we knew each other and were strangers at the same time, as we had never talked face to face. I’ll never forget talking to C.W. and J.A. on our first day back before we all started drama together, a class where we truly got to know each other and be ourselves. 

What are you most proud of achieving since you began your studies?

This might sound cheesy, but I am proud of stepping out of my shell. For years and years, I was very shy, but throughout this program (especially with those I learned with) I became more confident in myself and as a teacher. This program helped me grow, gain new friends and even apply for valedictorian! 

What is one thing your peers may remember about you after graduation?

Something silly my classmates may remember about me is that I have a huge dislike for fruits and vegetables. Something on the serious side would maybe be how helpful (and hopefully at least a little bit funny) I was. I shared answers and opinions and was organized in sharing resources and due dates. I think they would also remember me as someone who was always shaking and afraid to talk in front of the class, even though I felt comfortable with them.

What advice would you give students following a similar trajectory as yourself?

If you have a passion for teaching but are incredibly shy or nervous, don’t worry! I have been there! Becoming a teacher, especially on this campus, will help you grow as a friend, student and teacher if you let it. Though the beginning is new, allow yourself to open up a bit at a time. If you aren’t shy and just ready to teach and learn, I would advise you to stay organized so you don’t fall behind. The most important piece is to create a group of friends that you can create lesson plans with, laugh with/at and vent to. This is what will make you grow, have fun and not give up.

Can you give us three random facts about yourself?

  • I can quote the entirety of Grease (1978). Been watching it since an age that was far too young to be watching it at. I know all the dialogue and the songs and still listen all the songs today.
  • I love potatoes! French fries, baked potatoes, hash browns … any kind of potatoes. If you boil them, mash them or stick them in a stew, I will always eat them no matter the meal.
  • I have been really into macrame lately. I made many friends and family plant hangers this past Christmas. I recently made my own macrame bag! I love hands-on and creative projects as it is satisfying. I love giving handmade gifts to people I care for.

What’s next for you?

No idea at this point. Going with the flow. Right now, I am thinking of summer plans as I celebrate finishing five years of school! I’ll be in Nanaimo for at least a year and then decide if I am staying or not. I want to gain work experience before going back to school (if I want to go back). If I do return to school, an interest I have would be to complete my Master of Education to become a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing.

VIU convocation

VIU's 2023 convocation ceremonies take place on June 22 and 23. 

Learn more

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