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Alumni Profile: Tara Golonka ’21

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While at GNS, Tara was known for her smile, willingness to help, her athleticism (she was on almost every sports team at GNS!) and, of course, her ability to excel academically. She took part in the most rigorous academic courses that the IB Diploma has to offer (HL Physics!) while balancing international level competitive judo and sailing outside of school. Let’s see what our “smartie” alumna has been up to lately:

1. Which university are you currently attending, and what degree/course are you taking? UVic, Bachelor of Engineering

2. Which courses did you take in Grade 11/12 that have helped you the most so far? Probably IB Physics HL.

3. How did GNS prepare you for university? Taking the IB Diploma I would say prepared me for the rigorousness and time commitment of an engineering degree.

4. What are you doing outside of university? Primarily sailing and judo as an athlete, coach and referee. 

Tara has raced in sailing at an international level at regattas in San Francisco, San Diego and Bermuda. In Judo she has competed in international tournaments hosted across Canada as well as some in the US. A few years ago, Tara was selected to go to the Canada Cup, a major international tournament, to represent Canada, but on her last practice before the tournament, she broke her collarbone and was unable to participate.

5. What is something you didn’t expect about university? The amount of independence; there are so many options for how you schedule your courses and plan your days.

6. What is your favourite course? ENGR 120. We got to design, build and code robots in teams that sensed an infrared beacon emitted from a target and then drove to and deposited a ping-pong ball on it. Although challenging, it was lots of fun to be able to apply our skills to a hands-on engineering project.

7. What breakfast do you like to eat before an exam? Something fairly simple that gives me energy, but wouldn’t upset my stomach. Usually toast with peanut butter and banana, or a berry banana smoothie.

8. After a day of classes, what do you do? Depends on the day, but for the most part either study, do sailing or judo, or adventure with friends.

9. After a day of classes, what would you like to do? Relax. I also enjoy being involved in the UVic community as the social media manager for the UVic IEEE student branch, the secretary for the UVic sailing team, as well as a member of the UVic formula hybrid club. They’re all great clubs where I’ve made lifelong friends. It’s also lots of fun trying new things and learning new skills in these roles. I also enjoy hiking, backpacking and outdoor adventures to explore new places with friends and family.

10. What is your best study tip? Do lots of practice problems and start early.

11. For GNS students who would like to pursue a path similar to you, what would you tell them? Take the IB Diploma and preferably do HL sciences. Also, make sure to stay well-rounded.

12. What would you tell your younger self? Time is valuable. Prioritize and don’t waste it stressing about small things.

13. What would you tell your future self? Thinking about the rest of my degree knowing it will likely only get busier, I would remind my future self to stick to a schedule and get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Being energized and well-rested will save you a lot of time because you can be much more productive.

As you can tell, Tara is still as busy as ever maintaining a full academic schedule and continuing to pursue her extracurricular activities. As of now, she is expressing an interest in working as an engineer or going to med school to become a surgeon.

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours and know that no matter where you go, you will always put your best foot forward.