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By Russ Cooper
Percival Graham thinks he knows the secret.
Over the course of his four years at Concordia, this baccalaureate in mechanical engineering has developed a system for success in both academics and athletics.
“You put in your hours at the gym, you put in your hours at school,” he says. It’s a simple ethos that’s allowed the 22-year-old Montrealer to keep his GPA near 4.2 while excelling as scrumhalf for the Stingers rugby squad.
His ability to balance both has yielded a slew of awards on both sides. At Convocation this spring, he’ll collect the Mechanical Engineering Medal for having the highest GPA in his class. In April, he received the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME) Gold Medal for demonstrating outstanding academic achievement. And at the annual Athletic Awards ceremony, he won the President’s Academic Award for top male student-athlete, as well as an Award of Distinction for career contributions to his team.
If that wasn’t enough, for each of his four years here (the last of which he served as VP Academic of the Concordia chapter of the CSME), he received $7 000 from the Norman D. Hébert Scholarship in Engineering. He’s also appeared on the Dean’s List each year.
Did it take a lot of hard work? “It did and it didn’t,” he says. “By my third semester, I realized I could just get A+ all the time if I wanted to.” Pardon?
“It sounds arrogant, but the classes are all structured the same in a way. I always found the material interesting, so if I studied the same way, I could always get good grades.”
Besides his awards, since being here, he’s landed internships at the National Research Council, Rolls Royce, and the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation. And he’s just returned from Victoria, B.C. where he displayed his Capstone project, a small-scale (5’ x 10’) wind tunnel built to study ice build-up he created under professor Ali Dolatabadi, at a CSME design competition.
So do academic success strategies work on the field? “My coach [Clive Gibson] thought I was approaching school and rugby the same way, which is kind of true. But it’s easier to cram for an exam than it is to cram to get in shape.”
Did we mention he’s known for doing handstand push-ups? “It ties in with the whole thing,” he laughs. “I like to have fun and be entertained.”