Western grads go the distance
By Janice Olynich
While many students wonder if their journey through higher education will lead them to their job of choice and others struggle not to become Christmas grads, some members of Western's student body have achieved success beyond all expectations. Though everyone achieves in their own way and not all success can be measured in titles and awards, these Western Alumni have distinguished themselves with their drive, dedication and determination in pursuit of their goals.
One area in which Western has proven to nurture greatness is varsity athletics. The list of Olympians and professional athletes who once competed on Mustang rosters is long and rich with tradition. On the women's side, rowers Marnie McBean and Silken Laumann have become household names, yet equally successful is the athletic career of Lesley Thompson. A former Western rower, she was a varsity standout and went on to compete in five Olympic Games. On the men's side, football stars such as Tyronne Wiliams and more recently, Tim Tindale have been signed with National Football League teams.
One graduate from Western's past who is the true embodiment of a Mustang is Donald J. Wright a once celebrated track and field athlete, he helped to organize Western's orchestra and marching band, as well as composing the school song. Wright went on to become the general manager of CFPL radio in London and later composed music for commercials, movies and television.
While much can be said about our athletes and their success, Western has also produced leaders in the world of business, politics and the arts. This past summer, Western grad Paul Beeston was appointed to the position of chief executive officer for Major League Baseball. This career move came after serving as the president of the Toronto Blue Jays since their inception. Another Western Alumnus, John Bitov Jr., owner of Bitov Foods, was the former owner of the Toronto Raptors and played an integral role in bringing an NBA franchise to Ontario.
In the political scene, former Alberta premier Don Getty was once a Mustang, but traded his gridiron greatness in favour of the political arena. In the area of arts and entertainment, Western grad Alan Thicke went on to Hollywood fame and remains best known for his role as Dr. Jason Seaver on the hit sitcom series Growing Pains.
The one thing all of these grads have in common, besides the fact that they once walked in Western's hallowed halls, is their dedication to their dreams. The idea of testing yourself by working towards a lofty goal is daunting, even for the best of us, but the rewards for striving and then achieving cannot be equalled. To follow in the footsteps of Western's illustrious alumni is a challenge for us all, but one that is decidedly worth the risk.