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Living Life to the Fullest: U of R grad awarded Fall 2020 President’s Medal

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: October 16, 2020 5:00 a.m.

Ryan Hamilton is the President’s Medal winner for the U of R Fall Convocation.
Ryan Hamilton is the President’s Medal winner for the U of R Fall Convocation. Photos: Ryan Hamilton

At just 21, Ryan Hamilton’s resume of academic and volunteer accomplishments is astonishingly long and varied, rivalling the successes that many others would be proud of achieving over an entire career. 

During the Fall 2020 virtual Convocation, the University of Regina awarded Hamilton with the President’s Medal, the highest recognition for an undergraduate student in their first degree based on their outstanding leadership and academic contributions. Hamilton is graduating with Distinction with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree, majoring in accounting, from the U of R’s Hill School of Business. 

“The President’s Medal is a very rewarding thing to receive, which I didn’t expect,” says Hamilton. “There are so many amazing people in the Faculty who have similar records of involvement in activities and employment. It’s a very humbling experience to be able to receive something like this and be recognized for the work that I did.” 

Throughout his four years at the University, Hamilton volunteered his time for numerous community and University organizations, including the Hill Business Students’ Society, Enactus Regina, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Society - all while maintaining a grade point average of 83.3 and working three jobs to pay for school so that he wouldn’t need student loans. 

Initially, getting involved in campus life wasn’t easy for Hamilton, who describes himself as being a shy new student, who was scared to talk to people. 

“But, I really wanted to get involved on campus, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen unless I threw myself out there,” explains Hamilton. “So, in my first week as an undergrad, I joined Enactus Regina.” 

For the next two and a half years, Hamilton led a volunteer team for Enactus’ Breaking Barriers project. They worked with over 250 international students at the U of R to help them learn how to write cover letters and resumes, learn interviewing skills, and overcome language barriers. 

“That was one of the most personally rewarding volunteer activities I did,” says Hamilton, who had to spend considerable time managing his schedule. “I weighed my education, work, and volunteer commitments as equally important - they went hand in hand. When I worked, it helped me with my studies; when I was doing my studies, I could apply what I learned to my work. Just being able to volunteer in the community made me a better student. And a having a Google Calendar helped.” 

In addition to receiving the President’s Medal, Hamilton was awarded the Dean’s Medal from the Faculty of Business Administration. The Dean’s Medal recognizes a student who has not only achieved academic excellence but also demonstrates exceptional leadership throughout their time at the Hill School of Business. 

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Ryan and his best friend - his twin sister
Robin - have shared a lot of volunteer
experiences and taken a lot of the same
classes.

“Ask any one of the faculty members and students at the School who have had the privilege to work alongside Ryan and we all share the same view,” says Dr. Gina Grandy, Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business. “Ryan is a remarkable student, but he is also someone who selflessly shares his time, expertise, and positive energy. Furthermore, Ryan’s generosity of spirit, resilience, and perseverance in the face of adversity make him the ideal choice for the Dean’s Medal and the President’s Medal at this Fall’s convocation.” 

In his personal life, Hamilton has experienced great adversity. He has battled cancer in the past, and earlier this year his mother passed away. 

“When things like this happened to me, it was very disheartening at the time, because it felt like all the odds were against me,” says Hamilton. “But I think those experiences motivated me and pushed me to want to do more and give back to others. You need to appreciate the one life that you have - take care of yourself, your family and friends, and just try to give back when you can with your time or money.” 

Hamilton’s zest for life is reflected in his actions and appreciated by those at the University who consider him to be “a wonderful human being”. 

“I think a lot of my compassion came from my mom,” says Hamilton. “She was a very involved single parent; she was my favourite person. Even when she was struggling with her own health, she’d go to the hospital in the town where we lived, and she would rock babies because it would allow her to sit down and rest, yet still give back to the community. Being able to see someone who had so many odds against her but still wanted to give back really inspired me to be the best person that I possibly can.”   

Hamilton credits his close circle of like-minded friends and family, in particular his twin sister Robin, for providing motivation and support as he pursues his education, career, and volunteer aspirations. 

“My twin sister is my best friend,” says Hamilton. “Robin is actually in the same program at the U of R and will be graduating next year. We have similar interests; we’ve taken a lot of classes together and shared a lot of volunteer experiences - it’s really been a joint effort.” 

As well, many of Hamilton’s professors in the Hill School of Business helped to inspire and guide him in developing his personal and professional goals, and instilled in him a passion for helping others through education. 

“I want to continue to work with students because when I was in undergrad, I realized that I love education as much as I love accounting and working in industry,” explains Hamilton. “Being able to work with students, give them feedback, and see the ‘aha’ moment is probably the best feeling, personally and professionally.” 

Hamilton is now embarking part-time on a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on not-for-profit accounting and ethical decision making. By taking his MBA online, Hamilton is able to pursue his other passion and work full time in the accounting department of AIS Solutions in Toronto and part time as a teaching assistant.

Join us in celebrating all our Fall 2020 Graduates! View the Fall 2020 Graduate Recognition Video.