Wednesday, 4 February 2015

100 Years Later... Bats, The Simpsons, Slides, and Fire

Lighting it up with snow and ice

100 hundred years ago Canada sent their first troops into WWI, Nellie McClung posed a petition demanding women’s suffrage to the Albertan government, Pluto was photographed for the first time, and the University of Alberta graduated their first class. That’s 100 years and 260,000 graduates of “Doing Great Things”. In commemoration of the lives and accomplishments of former U of A students, the Alumni Association has put together a bio on one graduate from each year. One of my favourites is Joel Cohen who is a writer for a little known show called The Simpsons that’s just been kicking around for the past 26 years. I still remember being 10 and racing downstairs as soon as I heard the theme song come on... who am I kidding, I still do that just to see what the theme’s ending is for new episodes. Cohen got his degree in biology and became a Hollywood writer and producer. And yes, I would recommend reading the bios of those who have come before us. And, why? Because while I was reading them, I came to realize that even though I don’t know what I want to be when I “grow up”… I don’t really have to know. And that’s a comfort that I think many students need.

Since this is the Alumni Association’s centennial they decided to start it off right with an awesome Green and Glow Winterfest just this past weekend. Despite the chilliness of the winter season there was a great turn out of families, friends, and some now retired alumni. Quad was aglow with gleaming art installations, a blazing ice sculpture, lanterns, and shining cold faces.

Dan Riskin

To kick it off last Thursday night, Dan Riskin (a co-host on the Daily Planet) gave a talk on what it meant to him to be a U of A alumni as he described the path that landed him his job on an awesome show. If there ever was a Bat Man, Dan is that man. He talked about how his love of bats started after reading a really cool book during his undergrad and led him to pursue not one, but two graduate degrees while travelling all over the world  to study his beloved bats. His passion for bats and his ability to give a kick-ass presentation shaped the science TV host he’s become. It was the passion he saw in his U of A biology profs that inspired him to become the zealous scientist with a passion for bats he is today. Now thanks to those profs, he has the ability to share and inspire a broad audience and get people interested in science too. Talk about “Doing Great Things."

Do Great Things

So, what else did the Green and Glow Winterfest have that inspired me to write about it?

Ice Slide on Campus

Well, the ice slide was great- there wasn’t a time when I didn’t see a lineup of kids and adults waiting to glide down its slope! 

Sliding on Campus

There was a lantern making station inside CCIS where everyone got a chance to put their crafty skills to good use. 

Lantern Making

How to make a lantern

And if you wanted to show off your good work, you could partake in the lantern parade that ended with an amazing display of fire against the background of a glowing ice sculpture. 

Campus a Glow

Those blasts of fire had a practical use too as my freezing face definitely appreciated the warmth. And if you got a bit too cold you could always head towards CCIS and warm up with a cup of delicious hot chocolate (which I took advantage of several times). 

I enjoyed the interactive art installations where you could walk through a maze of bubble lights and step into a snow dome and mini cabin. 

A Maze of Light

A Peak Inside a Snow Globe

A Log Cabin... With Chicken Legs?

But my favourite was definitely the ice bar that supplied some great spiked cider. 

The Ice Bar

Another cool aspect was the “ghosts of graduates past” walking around Quad. My encounter included a hilarious honourary degree ceremony complete with graduation music, flash photography, and mom’s proud tears.

Ghosts of Graduates Past

All in all it was a great way to open the centennial celebrations. I feel inspired with a warm glow on the inside (even with my frozen toes and fingers on the outside), full of U of A spirit. The Alumni’s mantra “Do Great Things” has prevailed and all the stories I’ve heard from alumni this past weekend have reinforced this in my mind. If you want to check out what else the Alumni Association has planned for its centennial check out their website.

----About the Author


Hi, my name is Shannon and I’m here to provide you with a YouAlberta graduate student perspective. I am currently in the last year of my degree and have (quite) a few years of experience on the U of A campus as both an undergrad and graduate student.

I am excited to show off our student experience both here at the U of A and in the broader Edmonton community. We have a dynamic campus culture full of events, groups, and just day to day awesomeness. My passions include science and getting others involved in science related activities, volleyball, hiking, and camping. I’m also full of tips on how to have fun on a student budget. Over the next year I hope I can show you how to make the most of your U of A experience because there’s so much more to school than classes and expensive textbooks!


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