She's summited mountains such as Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro.
But on June 7, Sudbury native Major Meagan McGrath is due to make a much shorter climb – onto the stage at Laurentian University's Fraser Auditorium.
There she'll be presented with an honorary doctorate during one of the university's 11 convocation ceremonies.
McGrath said her mind was “blown” when she first heard she was going to receive the honour.
“I was stunned for the rest of the day,” she said. “It's pretty amazing to be recognized in this manner.”
Robert Deluce, the president and CEO of Porter Airlines, along with TVO anchor Steve Paikin, are also due to be presented with honorary doctorates by Laurentian this week.
McGrath, 35, grew up in Sudbury, attending Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. After high school, she attended Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., eventually becoming a military aerospace engineer. She now trains aerospace engineers and aircraft technicians at Canadian Forces Base Borden.
In the near future, she's due to be deployed overseas for a year to train military forces there. At this time, she's unable to speak about exactly where she's being deployed.
Ten years ago, McGrath travelled to Mount Kilimanjaro during a vacation, and caught the adventure bug.
Since that time, she's completed both versions of the Seven Summits — the highest mountains on each of the seven continents — and trekked to both the South Pole and the North Pole.
McGrath said she enjoys learning how far she can push herself both physically and mentally.
“It's interesting to see if we set our mind to something, how much we can accomplish, and if we dedicate ourselves to learning everything we need to know about that topic, how we can progress.”
That's not to say that McGrath isn't conscious of her own safety.
“I've not summited a number of mountains, mostly for safety decisions,” she said. “Yeah, it's not the best feeling in the world. But you come home and put on a dry pair of socks, and say 'Oh, I'm in one piece at least, maybe I'll try this another time.'
“Failure is part of success, really. When you fail, you can learn some things. You can learn what you can improve on. When you try again, whether it be that activity or another, you just put some more tools in your toolbox.”
She had been planning another series of expeditions, but this has now been delayed because of her new job.
“My next expedition would take me to four difficult environments on the planet – typically these are considered high-altitude, polar, the desert and jungle,” McGrath said. “I'd do significant expeditions in each of these environments.”
As for advice she'd give to graduates, she said they should follow the path that makes them happy.
“There's no right or wrong,” McGrath said. “You've got to pursue your dreams and be authentic to yourself. I know that's a saying that Oprah or somebody says, but that will make you happy.”
Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines
Deluce will be presented with an honorary doctorate June 6. Born in Chapleau and raised in White River, Ont., Deluce launched Porter Air in 2006 with service between Toronto and Ottawa. Porter is now the third largest scheduled air service in Canada, with flights to 19 destinations in Canada and the United States.
Steve Paikin, anchor and senior editor of TVO's The Agenda
Paikin will be presented with an honorary doctorate June 8. Beyond his role with The Agenda, Paikin has also produced documentaries including Return to the Warsaw Ghetto and A Main Street Man. He is the author of three books on politics and public life, and has also published The New Game, about professional hockey. Paikin is widely recognized for his role as the moderator of several provincial and federal leaders’ debates.
Posted by Arron Pickard