June 13, 2023

UCalgary Political Science Congratulates: Sean Ryan!

Winner of the 2022–23 the Silver Medallion for the International Relations Program!
Calgary City skyline

Medallions presented at convocation are among the most prestigious of University awards. These awards reflect the highest academic distinction earned by a student in a particular discipline.

Silver Medallions: Each department (or equivalent unit) awards one silver medallion to the student graduating with the highest distinction in scholarship in their program.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in Burnaby, British Columbia, and moved to Calgary for university three years ago. My journey to International Relations began in grade 12 when, unsure of what program to take, I stumbled across the IR degree in a university course book. This turned out to be a perfect match for my interests in politics, global affairs, language, and culture, and enabled me to study a degree focusing on some of the great challenges of our times. As the child of immigrants and grandchild of refugees, I already had an interest in how the world around us works, and International Relations suited this exceptionally. I will be taking the skills and lessons learned from my undergraduate degree onwards to law school, where I will take my interests in security and international affairs in new directions.

Ryan headshot

As the Silver Medallion winner, you must have had some favourite courses or areas of study?

I have been privileged to have some exceptional professors during my time at university, notable ones being Dr. Robert Huebert, Dr. Ian Brodie and Instructor Mark Machacek for Political Science, Dr. William Holden for geography, and Dr. Ronald Glassberg for Communication, Media, and Film. Strategic Studies, International Organizations, Political Geography, and Communication and Culture were all favourite classes of mine, all of which stretched and challenged the way I think. The benefits of IR were the opportunities to study a broad range of topics, ones which, directly and indirectly, enhanced my overall knowledge base for understanding global politics. These more traditional topics were enhanced by a class on political ecology, whose environmental lens on human relations proved fascinating.

After your degree, are there any plans that you would like to share?

My learning is not done yet, and so I will be heading off to law school in September at the University of Calgary. I am looking forward to focusing a bit more internally on Canada for my next degree, particularly agriculture and land ownership, but will still retain my interest in security and foreign policy that have guided me the last four years. I am excited for what the next four years have to offer, and seeing whether I end up coming back to my International Relations background one day!

Any advice for future International Relations students?

First, do not put boundaries on yourself and your learning. Often, it is the areas you thought the least interesting or relevant that turn out to be the most. Second, you learn both inside and outside the classroom, because as an International Relations student, your best learning comes from applying the concepts you learn in class to the events you see around the world and around you. Third, do not be afraid to explore the diversity of opportunities that await you out there, there are always more than you think. And finally, take the time sometimes to slow down and actually find the joy in your degree!


Congratulations to Sean Ryan on you 2022–23 Silver Medallion in the International Relations Program!


To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners please visit our web page.

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