James Kirkham didn't do as well as he would have liked in his first year in the science program at the University of British Columbia. But he held fast to his dream of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine and today, now 28, he goes by the title of Dr. James Kirkham, DVM.
On June 7, in fact, Kirkham was awarded the highest student honour bestowed by the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM): The Faculty Gold Medal.
One of 76 students who finished their studies at the WCVM this year, Kirkham graduated with Great Distinction and earned the gold medal for being the student who "has shown the highest proficiency in the science and art of veterinary medicine during the four years of study toward the DVM degree," university officials said in a statement.
Kirkham, a 2002 Howe Sound Secondary graduate, achieved his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in animal biology from UBCM in 2007. After earning his DVM, he starts his career as a veterinarian at the Applecross Veterinary Clinic in Nanaimo next week.
Kirkham, 28, first got his feet wet in the field while working as a volunteer at Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital and Eagleview Veterinary Hospital in Squamish.
"I started doing that and really, really enjoyed it, so I figured that would be a good career," he said on Monday (June 25).
The first year at UBC, though, had its challenges, he said.
"I didn't do that well in the first year of university - not as well as I would have liked - but I put my mind to it and it's worked out well," he said.
Asked if he had a message for recent and future HSSS graduates, he said, "You can basically do anything you want if you put your mind to it."
The son of Mayor Rob Kirkham and his wife Donna, Kirkham's time in Saskatoon was also a success from a personal point of view. It's where he met his fiancée, Dr. Alexandra Garroni, another recent WCVM graduate. The couple, who are set to work alongside one another at the Applecross clinic, plan to marry in 2013, he said.