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52 FINAL EXAM Professionally Speaking June 2021 PHOTO: MARTIN BROWN Going the Distance Olympian, broadcaster, and now author Perdita Felicien on finally achieving her childhood dream and why she missed her high school graduation. BY LAURA BICKLE • Born in Oshawa, Ont., on August 29, 1980 • Won Canadian junior championships in 1998 and 1999 • Attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a B.Sc. in kinesiology (Honours) in 2004 • Two-time Olympian (2000, 2004) • Named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Press in 2003 • Two-time world champion (2003, 2004) • Retired from competition in 2013 • Reporter with CHCH News in Hamilton 2013 to 2014 • Athletics Canada Hall of Fame Inductee, 2016 • Member of CBC's broadcast team during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea • Host of the unscripted challenge series All-Round Champion on TVO, launched in 2020 • Her memoir, My Mother's Daughter, was published by Doubleday Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada in March Describe yourself in elementary school in three words. Talkative. Funny. Athletic. Describe yourself in high school in three words. Smart. Competitive. Driven. What was your favourite subject in school and why? English. I loved expressing myself on the page. Writing was an outlet for my feelings, especially the heavy emotions. What was your most challenging subject and why? Math. I wasn't good at it, even when I worked hard it was a chore. What songs take you back to your school days and why? "Killing Me Softly with His Song" by the Fugees. It was huge hit when I was in Grade 9. We sang the bridge a cappella all throughout the hallways. Oh, the memories! What were your favourite literary pieces (novels/plays/poems) studied at school? The Color Purple, The Most Dangerous Game, Lord of the Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird. Still love a good book to this day. Who are your heroes from fiction? Celie, from The Color Purple, who shows us what grit and resilience looks like. As a student, what career path did you dream of following? In Grade 4 we had to dress up as what we wanted to be when we grew up. I dressed up as a writer. Thirty years later, I am an author today! What natural gift did you wish to possess during your school days? And now? I dream about having a beautiful singing voice like Aretha Franklin or Mariah Carey. But God knew not to give me that gift though. I'd get too cocky! What do you wish you had been taught in school but weren't? How to write a cheque, pick stocks, financial literacy. My favourite way to spend recess was … Eating Fruit Roll-Ups and grabbing baseball caps off the boys' heads. They'd try to catch me, but of course, I was too fast. Most important life lesson learned at school? Always finish what you start. Quality you most appreciated in a teacher? Kindness. Strongest graduation day memory? I didn't go. I had to do school visits to decide where I would accept an athletic scholarship. On that day I was visiting the University of Illinois, where I eventually decided to go and trained for a decade. So, it was sort of worth it! PS

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