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Anna Dawson: From Calgary Academy to Toronto and Beyond

June 5, 2023 4 min read

Walking through the Calgary Academy halls for the first time in years, Anna Dawson and her sister Isobel are greeted by nearly every teacher they pass by. Tons of “what are you up to, where have you been, and how are you doing” questions echo through the school as the sisters catch up with their favourite teachers.

Anna has been up to a lot since graduation—she has travelled, volunteered, and made the most of her post-secondary career as she enters her fifth year at the University of Toronto. She has said yes to her opportunities, just like she did at Calgary Academy.

Nine Years at CA

Looking back at her time at CA, Anna feels privileged to have attended the school. Isobel credits CA and its teachers for providing a space for students to figure out what they liked and who they are—something the sisters reminisce about.

“A lot of times Anna and I reflect on how CA gave us such an assurance that everything was going to work out and it’s cool to pursue the things you’re interested in.”

Anna and Isobel Dawson sitting together on a Couch in Calgary Academy.The support of her teachers isn’t the only thing Anna thinks fondly of—there are almost too many priceless memories from her CA experience. One of those memories is of her Junior School teacher purposely trashing their classroom for Saint Patrick’s Day. A leprechaun had broken into the room, leaving behind a trail of destruction and gold dust littering the floor.

In Grade 11, Anna remembers dressing up in Princess Leia buns and robes as she and her friends chose Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back for their film festival in Ms. Braithwaite’s language arts class. Of course, Anna and her sister can’t leave out coding and building a Nintendo switchboard to play Mario Kart in Mr. Schuegraf’s class and their ITS trip to Tanzania.

Anna said yes to everything in school—joining extracurriculars like drama (with her sister as stage manager), the grad committee, and the basketball team.

These experiences were not only fun but taught Anna valuable lessons. Nothing builds confidence and character more than getting onto a stage to sing and dance your heart out for an audience.

When Anna reflects on her time at CA, she’s grateful for the fond memories and the lessons the school taught her.

“It’s great to come from a real tight-knit community where everyone supported each other. Not just the teachers, but also the administration, students and support staff.

I’m proud of coming from a place where you can learn to be yourself and how to transform your skills into something you can use every day.” – Anna

Looking to the Future

Anna is entering the fifth year of her psychology degree at the University of Toronto while minoring in classics (classic civilization and sociology).

She chose this degree because it was perfect for her interests, getting to delve into the scientific side of psychology and how the brain influences who a person is on the outside.

While she’s passionate about her studies, Anna’s original plans for her future back in Grade 12 have changed. She loved the idea of counselling, but time in her school’s summer abroad program in Siena, Italy, shifted her interests to health administration and public health.

“I’m really into wellness and looking into the healthcare sector. I don’t know what the future is going to look like, but I’m hoping to apply for a public health or community health graduate degree.”  – Anna

Besides school and travel, Anna regularly volunteers at the medical clinic on her school campus, supporting the staff and assistants. She jokes she created her own position to assist an understaffed but essential service. She’s happy she extended her degree by an extra year to get the complete university experience, especially with a year and a half of online learning due to COVID-19 health measures.

Anna keeps an open mind towards her future, knowing that while her desired career may change, she feels passionate about her field. With the final year of her undergrad and graduate school on the horizon, she’s excited for what comes next.

In the meantime, Anna appreciates where she has come from, whether it’s the memories with her friends, teachers, and sister or the community that supported her education and interests for nine years at CA.

“I’m proud to be from a place where everyone had their struggles and adversities and learned to persevere and show up for one another. A place that teaches you how to be resilient.”