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One degree and counting

Spring bachelor of arts graduate playing the academic long game

special feature: Class of 2021

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Terri Coles

Lacy Custance came to Memorial University with a focus on studying abroad in France.

But she also found plenty to enrich her university experience on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s been better than I could have ever hoped for,” said Ms. Custance, who graduates this spring with her bachelor of arts (honours) in English and French, of her time at Memorial.

Her post-secondary education journey included living in residence as both a new student and a residence advisor, spending a year in Europe and receiving a coveted scholarship that provided freedom to focus on her undergraduate coursework.

Out of her comfort zone

When Ms. Custance, who is from Truro, N.S., was considering which university she should attend, she knew she wanted to spend some of her time studying abroad.

She decided on Memorial for a few reasons: The university takes part in the Canadian Third Year in Nice Program. Tuition at Memorial was affordable. And her sister was already a Memorial student, completing a bachelor of science degree, so she’d have one friendly face to meet her at the airport.

Lacy Custance, foreground, smiles. Paris, France is in the background.
Lacy Custance in Paris while studying abroad.
Photo: Submitted

In her second year, Ms. Custance received the $15,000 renewable Heaslip Scholarship. The security of the scholarship money allowed her to focus on her studies, propelling her forward.

“It definitely made things so much easier. I wasn’t so much focused on paying for school. I was actually putting my heart and soul into studying.”

The scholarship also ensured she could spend her third year in Nice, France, as one of just a handful of Memorial students chosen to study in French at l’Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis.

Her time in Europe was valuable socially as well as academically, she says. When Ms. Custance moved to St. John’s from Truro, she was nervous to take public transit for fear of getting lost. But while in France, she visited 18 countries and took a solo backpacking trip.

“That was really pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”

Back in September

Ms. Custance’s undergraduate studies came with a new lesson each year, she says.

From living away from home, to studying abroad, to balancing school and work, to adjusting to remote learning during a pandemic, she’s faced numerous challenges.

Accommodating and supportive professors made the last challenge easier to handle, she says.

All the same, Ms. Custance hopes to be back in St. John’s and on campus this fall when she begins her master of arts (English) degree at Memorial. She also plans to do a second degree in education and is currently studying for the DELF exam in order to teach in French.

“I really enjoyed my time at Memorial. And I’m excited to start my next couple degrees.”

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