Teagan stands outside the glass windows on the Centre for Health and Science at VIU's Nanaimo campus

A story of perseverance and hard work

May 30, 2023

Meet valedictorian Teagan Howden

As a first-generation university student, Teagan Howden felt lost when she first started in VIU’s Digital Media Studies program in 2018. Fast forward to today and she is gearing up for the next step on her journey towards becoming a corporate lawyer – a master’s degree. She shares highlights of her time at VIU and her best advice for current students.

Why did you choose VIU?

I was living in Qualicum Beach when I discovered VIU’s Digital Media Studies program through an online search. At the time, I was interested in working in the film industry and wanted to improve my videography skills. I was excited about the small classroom sizes because I knew I would benefit from one-on-one learning. I remember reading the description for DIGI 100 and realizing I would not only learn new videography skills, but I would also get to try coding for the first time. Since I knew my career focus may shift over time, I wanted to learn a variety of media skills, just in case. It also didn’t hurt that VIU wasn’t too far from where I lived so I could commute to and from the school easily.

Can you share a highlight from your time at VIU?

One of my highlights was organizing VIU’s Arts & Humanities block party social over the summer. I teamed up with my best friend, Isabella, and we had so much fun planning the activities and organizing a photo booth with the Theatre department. More than 100 students show up for the event, which made all our hard work worthwhile.

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

I’m most proud of the way I was able to adjust to my new schooling environment and never give up on myself even when things got difficult. When I first started university in 2018, I felt absolutely lost. I was a first-generation university student and the lack of guidance left me feeling like I would never complete my program. However, I persevered and to my surprise, managed to be on the dean’s list every semester for my second, third and fourth years of studies. I even won an overall achievement bursary award in 2021. If I had listened to the voice in my head telling me I wasn’t intelligent enough or capable, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the things I have – like being selected as valedictorian.

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

They’ll probably remember that I always had a fuzzy cheetah print laptop case in class.

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

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. And don’t focus on only one area of studies in your first year. If you’re struggling with class concepts, don’t be afraid to let your professors know. They won’t judge you, they’ll just help you get yourself where you need to be to succeed in their course. Also, taking classes outside of your comfort zone is the best way to discover your calling. If I had only taken videography courses, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for website design and marketing.

Can you give us three random facts about yourself?

  • I love to sing but I’m terrible at it.
  • I am the youngest of 11 siblings.
  • I have an Australian shepherd puppy named Junior.

What’s next for you?

I plan to get my Master of Business Administration from VIU then apply to the Peter Allard School of Law at UBC, then work in corporate law. This undergraduate degree is just the first step of my educational endeavours, but I look forward to the career opportunities that it can offer along the way.

VIU convocation

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

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