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This is the second in our series of stories celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of youth in our community. These inspirational young adults are enriching our lives with their passion and commitment to the betterment of society.

Sean Waugh

994450_10203254121926793_5431601957997252832_nOver the years, I’ve given numerous presentations at BC high schools about climate change and the question of intergenerational equity. But the email I received after my address to a Mount Douglas Secondary school wide assembly on Earth Day was unique. And that is what prompted us to contact Sean Waugh.

With about 1000 students in the room, it’s not unusual to find some who are more interested in surfing the internet or playing Candy Crush on their smart phones, frantically texting with their friends, or gossiping with their neighbour. But Sean was dumbfounded, “Do they not care about the future? There are more important things than texting every minute!” He wrote to apologize on behalf of the few inattentive students and to say thanks for “taking the time out of your day to reach out to our generation and try to guide us to make decisions long term that your generation possibly won’t be alive to see.”

After meeting Sean at our constituency office, it became clear to us that he is the kind of principled and disciplined young man that believes it is important to stand and speak up for what he believes in.

10252183_10203254122126798_3121147864795758402_nSean moved to Victoria from Calgary with his mother in 2012 and attended Mount Douglas Secondary School for grades 11 and 12. He graduated this past June with an A average and accepted an entrance fellowship to attend the University of Victoria this September. The move from Calgary marked one of the more difficult times in his life, having to leave his friends and start afresh at a new school. But his strength of character — which he attributes to the inspiration of his mother, a single parent who raised Sean and his older brother while also taking care of her live-in elderly father afflicted with advanced Alzheimer’s disease — allowed him to thrive in his new environment.

Sports are an important part of Sean’s life and it is obvious he’s in top physical condition. He has excelled in track at the provincial level and was a star on the Mount Douglas Rams Football team and was selected to play on Team BC. This past season the Rams achieved incredible success with a third straight BC high school Triple-A championship. It was an exciting night at BC Place when the Rams pulled out a 32-27 victory over the Terry Fox Ravens from Port Coquitlam. The experience of being on the team has meant a lot to Sean. He credits it for helping him become disciplined in his academics.

10343667_10203254122646811_9047707247288220928_nSean praised the Rams coaching staff for playing an influential role in his development. Growing up without a father figure, Sean noted that his coaches were instrumental in helping to fill that role through their mentoring and guidance. He was grateful to them for also providing him with ongoing encouragement to excel in academics as well as football.

Football coach Dave Wong described Sean as one of a very few true student-athletes — those who topped the class in both academics and sports. “Sean’s a competitor”, he told us, a “level-headed guy” with a wicked “dry sense of humour”. Coach Wong enjoyed having Sean on the team and noted that he was “very coachable” and “always listened”. He was one of only a few who spent many hours studying game videos of opposing teams to figure out what to expect in upcoming games. While Sean admits that mathematics is not his forte, English was one of his favourite subjects and he enjoys writing “Maybe I’ll write a book someday”.

Sean turned down scholarships from many Canadian and some U.S. universities in order to attend first year sciences at the University of Victoria this September. Although he doesn’t plan to play football next year, he hopes to take it up again in the future and in the meantime, “I’ll stay in shape and keep training”. As a former UVic rugby player, I spent a fair amount of time trying to convince him that his cornerback, punt return and wide receiver football skills would make him an outstanding outside back on the rugby field.

UVic appeals to Sean as he would like to become a physician and work in a hospital emergency room “where all the action is”. He’s already received his First Aid training and put that into practice as a first responder to a very serious Lochside Trail bike accident. After his undergraduate degree is complete, he hopes to enter UVic’s Island Medical Program, “established in 2004 as part of a unique provincial plan to increase the number of new physicians in British Columbia and encourage them to establish their practices in under-served areas of the province”.

10489743_10203254121966794_538110246787756971_nSean is passionate about life. He enjoys snowboarding, is certified in SCUBA and enjoys simple things, like playing with his dog, eating good food and being outdoors in special places like the Sooke Potholes with friends. He understands that success comes from discipline and hard work. When asked about why he wanted to go into medicine, he responded that he wanted to have an impact on people. In fact, prior to setting his sights on a career in medicine, Sean considered becoming an author, a comedian or a lawyer. It’s not surprising that Sean wants to dedicate his life to positively impacting the lives of others. After all, both his mother and his coaches have been inspirational and have had such a positive impact on him.

Sean Waugh is a competitor and a winner, in sports, in academics and in life. Thank you for enriching the lives of those around you. And thank you for the kind words you emailed me after I presented at Mount Douglas Secondary School.

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