Thousands of uOttawa students walked across the stage at Spring Convocation to celebrate their milestone achievements. For Katherine Bearne and Montana Champagne, the ceremonies topped off years of determination and success as Gee-Gees student-athletes, which included National Championship victories. The two new graduates are now heading to Italy to represent Canada at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade in Napoli.
Katherine Bearne, who graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Physics-Mathematics and Minor in Economics, has excelled as an academic standout and on the soccer field. She maintained one of the top GPAs in her faculty while also earning two Ontario University Athletics conference championships and three individual awards as a conference all-star at midfield (even after recovering from knee surgery!).
In 2017, she was among the Top 8 Academic All-Canadian recipients and received the Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation for her exceptional academic standing. The native of Halifax was again named an All-Canadian player in 2018 and helped lift the Gee-Gees to a national championship victory.
The two-time recipient of the Gee-Gees President’s Award scored more than 20 goals over four seasons and was selected as a valedictorian for the Faculty of Science this spring.
“My initial reaction was just shock – our Faculty is pretty big and we have a lot of really smart and talented students, so it was shocking that they would choose me when I know that there are so many deserving people,” says Bearne of her selection as valedictorian.
Following her time in Naples, Bearne will begin a Master's in Physics under the supervision of Dr. Robert Boyd and play one final season with the Gee-Gees.
“If you look at everything in the long term, goals can get a bit overwhelming,” she explains. “It’s nice to have little breaks in the road to celebrate. Things like convocation are a big deal – you’ve already accomplished something and that’s a great feeling.”
Montana Champagne’s final year of studies was his best: he became an Academic All-Canadian while making history in the pool. He set a U SPORTS record in the men’s 200m individual medley while earning two gold medals at the 2019 National Swimming Championships.
Champagne also set a Gee-Gees record by capturing four national gold medals over his career.
In addition to being the most decorated athlete in uOttawa’s history with 8 national medals, he earned an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management.
“It’s like having a medal because it’s physical proof that you’re able to achieve something. I’m just as proud of that as any of my medals because it’s a culmination of all my work towards it,” said Champagne, degree in hand.
When he returns from Naples, where he’ll compete with athletes from 127 countries, Champagne plans to continue working with Scotiabank while training for the 2020 Olympic Trials.
“I had to get my feet planted in terms of balancing work, school, and swimming. There are a lot of people who come to university and there are a lot of people who swim, and it’s tempting to just do one. I wanted to show that you could do them at the same time and excel in both. That’s what drove me.”