The University of Lethbridge honoured a distinguished Airdrie graduate with its Faculty of Arts and Science Gold Medal during the school’s convocation June 1.
Though Caitlin Ratcliffe, 22, was assured her application for the medal was strong by her professors, she said there certainly weren’t any guarantees she would win.
“I had also been equally assured that there were quite a few people with strong applications,” she said.
For the medal, graduates were required to submit an application featuring transcripts, community service as well as recommendation letters from instructors.
She was told a couple letters were good while three or four were “very good.” Ratcliffe said it was mentioned, as a joke, that seven would be “great.”
“So, I got seven,” she said with a laugh.
Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in English and History.
She was originally drawn to English due to an interest in literature but said her mom strongly encouraged her to embark on the educational route of history.
“So, we compromised and I did both,” Ratcliffe said.
Though she has a summer to rest from university, her studies pick up in the fall when she begins her two-year Masters of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Ratcliffe said she has wanted to be a librarian since the fifth grade. When assigned a project called “My Hero,” she said she chose the librarian at the Airdrie Public Library (APL).
“Mostly because she was setting books aside for me so I got first dibs on all the new series,” Ratcliffe said. “For Grade 5 me, that was very exciting.”
In Grade 9, she started volunteering at the APL before securing a position as a library page in Grade 11. Since then, Ratcliffe said she has returned every summer to work at the APL.
Though her passion for reading has driven her career choice, she said it is the access to information component that is especially important to her.
“That’s really what libraries are all about,” Ratcliffe said.
Quite a few people have warned her about her career choice with a notion that libraries are “going out of style” in the age of the Internet, she said. But Ratcliffe believes libraries are needed now more than ever.
“There’s now an information overload,” she said. “You really do need people who are trained to help sort through that.”
After completing her master’s degree, Ratcliffe said she would be happy to apply her craft to any library. Her dream job, however, involves working in the same library to which she has dedicated so much of her time.
“I would love to come back to Airdrie,” she said.