Editor’s Notes

True Grit

I worked like a mule back in university, carrying a heavy course load and keeping my head pretty much lowered. Nights at the library, study sessions until dawn, life as experienced in a deprivation tank. Squint hard and I can see the furrowed brow and the Deirdre Kellydonut dust forming a thin layer over my textbooks and notes. And I do have to squint hard. Because while my student years were sometimes hellish, they were also the best years of my life, a time when I faced new challenges and conquered them. I did it through perseverance. I had a goal firmly in mind and I went for it, pushing through the pain of sleepless nights and student poverty-induced hunger, and perhaps more importantly, the fear of failure, to get to the top of my class. I met others who were smarter, and with infinitely more talent. But I had a secret weapon. I had grit. I wasn’t easily discouraged by initial failures. I was the little engine that could. Passion plus persistence is a winning formula when it comes to achieving success. I know that as much as the people you are about to encounter here, in the Fall 2018 issue of the award-winning The York University Magazine. What they all have in common is staying power. Each seized on a task and stubbornly stuck to it until they achieved what they wanted, a feeling of personal triumph. The obstacles in their path initially looked insurmountable. They ranged from homelessness, drug addiction and incarceration in the case of Jesse Thistle, the now thriving PhD student who graces our cover, to a feeling of inadequacy when it came to accessing higher education in the case of Nancy Sullivan, a postal worker turned Bay Street success story who is also profiled within these pages. But all fell to the wayside when tackled with perseverance. The noun’s obdurate essence is rooted in the Latin word perseverus, meaning very strict, as in slogging it out until the job is done. Perseverance also means taking a stand, a definition that easily applies to protestor Tzeporah Berman in her fight to save the environment and to Dennis Raphael, a professor in York University’s School of Health Policy and Management who has spent his career asking a lot of uncomfortable questions, persevering until he finds the answers. I hope their tenaciousness inspires.


photography by McKenzie James

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