UNB News
News and stories from one of Canada’s top universities

With grace and compassion: UNB valedictorian is ready to change the world

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on May 17, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton

Callum Hunter

"I remember feeling deep pride and appreciation for the community that welcomed me so wholeheartedly in my first year. I remember standing in the bleachers, looking around, thinking ‘This is UNB; this is a family waiting to be found.”

This is just one of Callum Hunter’s reflections of her time at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Graduating with a bachelor of philosophy in interdisciplinary leadership, with minors in philosophy and political science, she is one of UNB’s valedictorians.

Hunter was selected because she demonstrated an unrelenting passion for making a positive difference in the lives of her fellow students.

Originating from Calgary, Alberta, 21-year-old Hunter spent the last four years at UNB both as a student and a member of the Renaissance College community. Not only was she consistently involved in community and campus activities, but she also prioritized building connections, for herself and her classmates.

One of the reasons Hunter chose UNB was because of its beautiful campus and proximity to Fredericton’s downtown core. When she arrived, she found so much more. She found a place where she belonged.

“The university experience is made memorable by the people around us,” explained Hunter. “Between the long-lasting relationships I developed in my program and in residence, the shorter interactions I’ve had in the halls between classes or the person who always seems to have a smile as I walk by, I am overjoyed to have been impacted by so many people during my undergraduate degree.”

Hunter will address graduates from the faculties of arts, law, Renaissance College and interdisciplinary studies on the Fredericton campus.

She recently sat down to reflect on her time at UNB and her plans. Here’s what she had to say:

What made you decide to pursue your studies at Renaissance College?

I had a wide range of interests in high school and going into university I wasn’t quite ready to let any of them go. I had considered degrees in everything from engineering to philosophy, but really wanted something where I could keep building on all my skills at once and that didn’t necessarily lead to one career path. A graduate that worked with my mom introduced me to Renaissance College at UNB and I knew it was the program I wanted to attend from the first mention of its interdisciplinary nature, emphasis on community and options for students to really make the degree their own.

What brought you to UNB for your studies?

I attended SHAD UNB in 2017 and fell in love with the UNB campus and Fredericton’s smaller-town feel. Coming from Calgary, AB, I loved being somewhere that I could navigate on my own easily and where connections seemed to pop up all over the place. After SHAD, I knew I wanted to attend university somewhere in the Maritimes and already favoured UNB as a top contender. Learning about UNB’s unique leadership program at Renaissance College solidified my decision and I am so happy I made the choice I did – UNB is now, and will continue to be, a place where I feel completely at home.

What are your plans after graduation, both immediate and long-term?

This coming fall, I’ll be starting a four-year program combining a master of public administration with a juris doctor (law) degree at Dalhousie University. Long-term, I am still exploring my options and part of the reason I’m pursuing the joint degree is so that I can experience legal and policy work from both a legislative and judicial perspective. My main interests right now are either policy development with a provincial or federal government or a career in family law – luckily, I still have some time to figure my plans out and decide which way to go! I'm also fully expecting to learn about careers I didn't even know existed over these next few years, so am open to my plans changing.

What is the most important lesson you are taking away from your time at UNB?

The most important lesson I’ll take from UNB is that there is always a different perspective to look at a situation from. The courses I’ve taken here have made me a stronger global citizen, able to situate my personal experience within the much wider context of the province, country and international system. Everything from a major political issue to a personal interaction always has at least one other way of looking at it and it’s only by being open to these diverse perspectives that we can make meaningful progress forwards as a community. I’m grateful to UNB for showing me that I always have more to learn, more perspectives to consider and more opportunities to make myself a better support to others in my community.

If you were to offer a piece of advice to someone embarking on their university journey, what would it be?

My advice is that whatever your plan is coming into university, it can, should and will change. I originally planned to complete my degree in three years. Still, after spending a full year at home in Calgary because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to add a fourth-year and second minor to have more time to enjoy the campus experience. This final year has been the one that pushed me the furthest, prepared me best for my next degree and helped me feel ready to move on from UNB. I have rarely met someone who started and finished a degree program in the time they expected, with all the experience they wanted, with no additions to or re-evaluations of their degree. The most important thing is ensuring you get as much as possible out of your time in undergrad. Whether this means repeating a course, adding a few more or changing degrees entirely, it is always well worth it to be flexible with your plans.