Where Are They Now? An Interview With Quest Alumni Kelly McQuade

In this blog series, “Where are they now?”, alumni can reflect on their academic, social and physical journey through Quest’s undergraduate education. We have been asking some Quest alumna to write a few words about Quest, their experience, and where it has taken them. Here are some words from recent graduate Kelly McQuade:

“Hello! My name is Kelly McQuade and I was a member of the Quest grad class of 2015. I was attracted to Quest by the small class sizes that the university offers. I attended small schools (under 500 students) my whole life, and I wanted to be in that environment once again for university. Being in a community where you know everyone is quite rare, and I feel lucky to have experienced that at Quest.

My Question was “How do diseases spread?”. For my keystone project, I completed a literature review on the human microbiome, focusing specifically on the skin and gut microbiomes. To give you a basic explanation, the human microbiome are the group of microorganisms that live on or in the human body. I also created a case study with the intention of having it used as a classroom teaching device.

I have so many wonderful memories from my time at Quest that it is hard to narrow it down! One experience would have to be taking part in the Great Bear Rainforest Youth Paddle after my first year at Quest. A group of Quest students took part in a canoe paddle with first nations youth from Hartley Bay, along with living in their community for almost two weeks. The purpose of the trip was to learn about the impact that the Enbridge Oil Pipeline would have on this remote First Nations community – and it was actually the culmination of a keystone project that a Quest grad (Magdalena Angel) completed! It was a trip that not many people will get to experience in their lifetime, so I am very thankful for that.

Another moment that stands out to me was hiking The Chief with most of my best friends at the end of my fourth year. It was a really nice way to gather everyone together for one final group adventure. My friends from Quest were my rocks back then, just as they are now. Having that memory is something I cherish.


Currently, I am back living in Squamish – I really could not get enough of the adventures that abound in this area! I am working as an intern at the Squamish Hotspot Welcome Centre in downtown Squamish. The Hotspot is a non-profit organization that provides services such as ESL classes, settlement services, and a wonderful bookstore! My time at Quest definitely played a part in wanting this job for many reasons. I enjoy the outdoor recreation opportunities that Squamish offers and I wanted to take more advantage of that than I did during my time at Quest. As well, I wanted to experience the Squamish that you do not really see during your time at Quest – new immigrants to Canada living in Squamish, the elderly populations, and even young adults that are university aged and living in Squamish.

By going to a liberal arts and sciences university, I have realized that there are benefits of trying things outside your main scope of interest. For example, my academic interest lies in the sciences. However, my current job and my work as a wildfire fighter in the summer does not directly align with my academic interest, and I think that is perfect. It is allowing me to try new things and build other skills that I am certain will help with my academic interests in the future.  I have a feeling I learned this by being forced into taking classes I otherwise would have avoided while at Quest.

Quest will forever be one of the best periods of my life. While I enjoyed the academic aspects of my time at the school, I am most grateful for the friendships I built during my time at the school. If I had to offer one piece of advice, it would be to take time to get to know the people you surround yourself with. After your graduate, do not lose touch with these people and make every effort you can to see them. When you are confused with what is going on once you are done your time at Quest, they are the ones who will listen to your worries and reassure you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard at school (because you definitely should), but make sure you evaluate where all your priorities lie.

Good luck during the rest of your time at Quest, whether that be three more years or a few more months! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to alumni for advice on anything.”



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