Governor General medallist set sights on award right after enrolment

Amirali Madani’s lofty plan was set in motion three years ago.

Though he hadn’t yet started at Brock, he spent time on the University’s website, researching all there was to know about the Governor General’s Gold Medal, an award presented annually at Spring Convocation to the graduate student with the highest academic average.

The 24-year-old international student from Iran reviewed the averages of previous winners, saw they ranged from 96 to 98 per cent and said to himself, “I will reach that goal.”

And reach it he did.

On Friday, June 17, during the Faculty of Mathematics and Science Spring Convocation ceremony, Madani received not only his master’s degree in Computer Science, but also the coveted gold medal he had set his sights on years before.

“Focusing on my academic goals helped me push past the toughest challenges I faced,” said Madani, who completed his degree with a 97 per cent overall average.

A portrait of Amirali Madani.

Amirali Madani graduated with his master’s degree in Computer Science on Friday, June 17.

He recalls arriving in Canada in August 2019 and standing before a class in early September, where he spoke English to a Canadian audience for the first time.

“Going through my degree during COVID-19, largely isolated from my peers and far from home was daunting,” Madani said.

He hasn’t returned home to Iran in more than three years but hopes to be reunited with his family soon.

“I called my mother to tell her the news of the award and she basically started crying,” he said, adding his family has endured many challenges. “The future is brighter now.”

Currently taking his PhD in Computer Science at Carleton University, Madani admitted that at time during his Brock studies he found himself getting distracted, but refused to give up along the way.

He hopes that message will resonate with fellow students.

“If it helps others to know that you can achieve great things even during rough times, maybe a student hearing my story will keep pushing too,” he said.

Madani said there is a real sense of family at Brock, particularly within the Computer Science working group with whom he became close.

“I want to thank my supervisor Professor Beatrice Ombuki-Berman, Department Chair Brian Ross, and my Computer Science peers for their support,” he said.

“Amirali’s determination, self-motivation and ambition was apparent from the day I first met him,” said Ombuki-Berman. “I can confidently say that he is a brilliant young researcher who will continue to make significant innovative contributions to research and technology in the coming years.”

Madani hopes to land a job in computer science doing research and development, which he’s drawn to for the wide range of challenges creating new and innovative products and designs.

“Amirali’s story is about sticking to one’s goals despite the challenges life throws your way,” said Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed. “We are proud of his determination and exceptional performance, and pleased to call him an FMS graduate.”

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