Mission’s Flora Oswald has earned the Governor General’s Silver Medal as UFV’s top graduate from a bachelor’s degree program. / Submitted photo

Flora Oswald earns UFV’s Governor General Silver Medal as top undergraduate

Mission woman ended up with a perfect 4.33 GPA on her last 30 credits

Flora Oswald of Mission has tattoos on her face and chest, dropped out of high school at age 16, researches sexuality in a traditionally conservative market, changed her name this year, finished her four-year degree in three years despite suffering a serious brain injury, and ended up with a perfect 4.33 GPA on her last 30 credits to earn the Governor General’s Silver Medal as UFV’s top graduate from a bachelor’s degree program.

She isn’t your average student.

It will be exactly 1,000 days from Oswald’s very first class at UFV to the moment she crossed the convocation stage June 5. She finishes her bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology honours and minor in sociology.

“I just wanted to get it done by the time a normal person would’ve got it done if they’d finished high school and gone right into university,” she explains. While her goal remained the same, her name changed three months ago to Flora Everest from Erin Cally.

“It’s a better reflection of who I am, and I wanted it done before I graduated and started getting published,” she says.

The daughter of professional cyclists living in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Oswald lost interest in school by the age of 16. A few years later her step-dad and mom moved to Mission, and Oswald visited a friend at the University of Victoria. She liked the university atmosphere, so enrolled at the nearest institution — UFV.

“I don’t know if it’s what I expected it to turn out like,” she says of her experience, “but it’s definitely what I wanted it to be.”

A gifted learner from an early age, Oswald chose psychology “for no particular reason” after reading one book on the subject. She quickly found her passion in the study of sexuality, leading to three directed studies in addition to her honours project.

She was cruising through classes with an A-plus average when suddenly everything she’d worked for nearly disappeared. While waiting at an intersection, a pickup truck plowed into the back in her beloved Ford Mustang. In addition to other injuries, Oswald suffered a serious concussion.

“Everything was going fine, great grades across the board, then suddenly I couldn’t do anything for two months,” she said.

“Absolutely nothing. It was … brutal.”

Sleeping her days away in a dark room, Oswald promised to finish what she’d started — on time. After two months she returned to UFV while also getting back to kayaking, hiking, and hanging out with friends.

She credits peers who frequent the Student Psychology Association, and a solid stable of inspiring professors for her return to academic success.

“One of the biggest things that I’d recommend to other students striving to succeed is to have good relationships with faculty. I see so many students who don’t drop by for office hours; our professors are more than happy to help those of us who ask for it.”

Specifically, Oswald points to professors Wayne Podrouzek, Alicia Horton, and Sven Van de Wetering, who she calls “the model in my mind about intellectual humility and patience.”

Aside from her work at UFV, Oswald is currently researching under the tutelage of mentor Dr. Cory Pederson at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Observations and Research in Gender and Sexuality Matters (O.R.G.A.S.M.) Lab.

She concedes that the topic of sexuality isn’t always intellectually embraced, particularly in social circles when meeting new people, especially young men.

But she’s undeterred, saying, “I’ve found the thing I want to spend my whole life doing.”

She hopes her next step is leapfrogging into a PhD program with Australia’s Curtin University.

“They have one of the best sexology programs in the world.”

Oswald’s ultimate goal is to work in the post-secondary system, teaching and researching sexuality.

She’s off to a good start, having developed a new UFV course on the psychology of critical thinking under the guidance of Van de Wetering.

Her work, like her tattoos, are close to her heart — which themselves are literally tattoos on Oswald’s right arm and near her right eye.

Her ink includes the words ‘Stay Gold’ across her knuckles, a large colourful bilateral gynandromorph (an organism containing both male and female characteristics) on her chest, and a small psychology symbol on the middle finger of her right hand, plus many, many more.

Her next planned tattoo? Freckles tattooed onto her face.

“I just like it,” she says.

“I guess I kind of do things my own way, and so far it seems to be working out all right.”

Just Posted

Inclusion walkway officially unveiled in Mission

Ceremony took place, despite a vandal’s attempt to ruin the walkway with white latex paint

Abbotsford firefighters knock down house fire before it can spread

No one believed to be inside structure at the time of the fire on Clayburn Road Saturday morning

Police find loaded rifle in car of ‘prolific offender’ prohibited from driving

Tyler Houle of Abbotsford arrested Wednesday in Chilliwack

Registration lower than expected for Stave Falls Elementary

To date, there are 44 students registered to attend the Mission district school next year

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Mission’s Dunnett, Cooper make Team B.C.

Local duo added to provincial box lacrosse team

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Most Read