The sky is truly the limits for one University of British Columbia graduate.
Lake Country product Teagan MacDougall not only completed her Bachelor in Science with honours, but she was also awarded the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize and $10,000.
MacDougall rerouted a path from harmful study skills and refocused her energy to give her everything and her leadership skills, hard work and determination have not gone unnoticed.
The award, now in its 11th year, is the highest honour available for an Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences student and this year, it recognizes Teagan MacDougall for her academic excellence and leadership skills.
“We are happy to support Teagan and hope she continues to chase her dream of becoming a pediatrician and is able to continue her great work in the community,” said Pushor Mitchell LLP managing partner Andrew Brunton.
“We are proud to be a supporter of UBC Okanagan and to be able to add Teagan to the distinguished list of Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize winners.”
MacDougall grew up in Lake Country and upon graduating from high school, she moved to Whistler to spend her days on the slopes and spend her evenings working in the hospital industry before returning to the Okanagan and enrolling at UBCO in 2016.
She enjoyed biology in high school and she knew her end-goal was medical school, specializing in microbiology.
She said she was thrilled to be back in the classroom, but bad study habits started to reappear as she struggled during her first semester as she pulled an all-nighter, cramming weeks of course material in one study session ahead of the midterm.
“I was up all night, studying, drank six red bulls and I got 20 per cent,” she said. “It made me wonder whether or not I was cut out for university — I asked myself what I wanted to do. I could either walk away or try harder and I decided to try harder.”
She registered for a summer physics course and committed to giving it her all.
She completed the course with a 97 per cent and from that moment forward, she never received a grade lower than an A.
On top of her academic excellence, MacDougall was deeply involved in research throughout her time at UBCO, volunteering in a biomedical research lab and working as an undergraduate research assistant.
MacDougall also conducted her own research, investigating the persistency and viability of a fungal probiotic in the human gastrointestinal tract, which won first place presentation at the UBCO’s Undergraduate Research Conference.
In whatever spare time MacDougall had, she founded Heroes for Little Heroes — a registered Canadian non-profit where volunteers wear princess and superhero costumes to visit medically-vulnerable children at local hospitals and disadvantaged children at social service institutions.
“The smile on their faces when they see a princess or superhero walk into the room — it’s so heartwarming,” she said.
“We do crafts, read books and just talk and keep them company—but, honestly, they’re the real heroes. They overcome huge adversities at a young age and still come out smiling—they’re so brave and inspire me to be resilient every day.”
MacDougall also volunteers at Kelowna General Hospital, doing patient visitations and providing information to the emergency department. She also serves as a youth mental health ambassador with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at BC Children’s Hospital — a position that piqued her interest for personal reasons.
“During my teenage years, I suffered from an eating disorder,” she said. “Although it was horrible — I try to think of it as a silver lining. That experience helps me to better understand and empathize with youth suffering from similar disorders.”
MacDougall will be spending the next few months working with the early detection research group at the BC Cancer Agency while studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) slated for fall.
Her medical school of choice is UBC’s Southern Medical Program on the Okanagan campus, but MacDougall is open to the idea of relocating.
“Wherever my journey takes me, the financial flexibility that comes with winning this award will allow me to further my education and continue growing my foundation with the goal of helping as many people as possible,” she said, thanking Pushor Mitchell and her professors for their support.
Not all the lessons learned through her undergraduate were learned in a textbook, she said.
“Hard work does pay off and I want my fellow students to know they are capable of much more than they know. No one should sell themselves short. Anything worth having is worth working for,” she said. “It’s so simple, yet so true.”