It is one of those things that really shouldn't be a big deal. After all, a University ID number is just a simple sequence of digits and every student has one. Why is it then that years after graduation, when we have occasion to remember that long forgotten string of integers, do so many of us wax nostalgic?
Perhaps the answer lays not so much in the numbers themselves but in the memories they have come to symbolize, memories of friends and professors, great marks, not so great marks and the ultimate realization of an incredible accomplishment.
At the University of Lethbridge, the first two numbers on a student's ID represent the year that a student begins studying there. If you know a bit about the history of the University, you might guess that the first student ID started with the number 67. Wayne Anderson (BASc '73), the first student registered at the U of L, however, tells a little different story of ID number 00057001.
"When I graduated from high school in Picture Butte in 1957, Kate Andrews was the chairman of the board that was starting up a college in Lethbridge. Because our school district contributed funds to the building of the college, the college gave us the opportunity to go in and start as first year university students," remembers Anderson. "I started out in education. There was a big need then for teachers, so for incentive to get us enrolled, our tuition was only 100 dollars for a semester. Although we were within the college, we were actually the first University of Lethbridge students."
The first building built with those funds still stands as part of a local high school.
"They built onto the west end of Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. There were rooms there for us to use and as soon as we finished the year we moved out and the Collegiate took over. William Cousins was the dean of the University students there, and that is how we started out in the fall of 1957," explains Anderson.
After his first year, Anderson took a break from school to work at the research station in Vauxhall. He married his sweetheart in 1966 and later moved back to Lethbridge to accept a job at the Lethbridge Research Centre.
"My Mother had gone to grade 11 and in the 1920s that was quite a feat. I did not have a very good showing my first year at the college and my mother was so disappointed that I didn't carry on. I wanted to rectify it and make her proud of me, so I started back at University," recalls Anderson.
Balancing a full-time job with a young family and part-time studies, Anderson once again pursued a degree, this time in physical sciences. He eventually graduated with a BASc in geography in 1973.
"I aimed toward that degree because I was working in that field and I really loved my job. The courses I took, geomorphology, soils, agricultural geography, research techniques, Russian and Canadian geography, were all somehow related to the research station and its work worldwide. The professors would post our marks on the door. In all those years taking courses I never had a hard time finding mine because the students' IDs started in the 60s and 70s and my ID stood out like a sore thumb because it started with 57," chuckles Anderson.
Anderson continued to work at the research station until he retired in 1991. Not one to sit still long, he began working as a driver for the armoured car division of Loomis before retiring again in 2003. Deciding that retirement was not for him, Anderson began yet another career working for the Commissionaires as Security personnel for the Alberta/Montana transmission line.
Now 75 years young, Anderson loves visiting the University campus on a regular basis as part of the Walk for Wellness group. On May 29, 2013 he will be on campus to participate in a special ceremony to receive the Fiat Lux Alumni Ring.
"One of my proudest accomplishments is graduating after spending all those years in University. The ring is something to always remind me of the years I put in and of being a part of the University. I feel pretty impressed to see how far the University has come from when I first started until now. When I see all these students I think, gee it has been a long time since I have been a student here," laughs Anderson. "It is great to be an alumnus!"
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· Anderson has been married for 47 years and has two daughters and one son, with one daughter a U of L alumna
· He has been a curler for 50 years and still coaches wheelchair curling in Lethbridge
· An old car buff, Anderson has driven his 1966 Chevy hardtop in the annual Street Wheelers weekend
· He calls the '57 Chevy his favourite vehicle, and briefly owned one after his first year of university
This story first appeared in the April 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.