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Surviving UFV



What do you do when you’ve committed at least four years of your life to studying at an institution and you want to let everyone know how awesome your time there was? You write a book about it — with the help of fellow students.

Well, that’s what graduating student Riley Dueck is doing. With this being his last semester, Dueck was looking for a way to let both UFV and its students know just how great he thinks the university is, and a book was the best way to do that.

The book, which Dueck is planning to publish as an e-book, will have two parts: a survival guide, filled with tips for new students, and a compilation of letters from graduating students and alumni to the university.

“It’s been a great four years and I think writing a survival guide, which I can get into, is a fun way to give back, and at the same time a fun way to bring people together,” he said.

Dueck is turning to the student body for help and is looking for students that are graduating, close to graduating, or have already graduated, to send him letters about their thoughts on UFV that he can include.

“I want this entire section, the letters, to be written by students, a form of just promoting positivity about the school and reflection,” he said.

For the survival guide portion of the book, rather than focusing on the basics, Dueck wants to include the stuff you really need to know — the stuff you won’t find on UFV’s website.

“I call it a survival guide because I don’t want it to be just a guide like ‘to register, log into myUFV,’ none of that,” he explained. “I want it to be completely unorthodox, unconventional. For example, where are the best washrooms at UFV? There are times at Tim Hortons that the line actually does diminish at a specific time of day, and then there are other times where you can’t go at all. I want to write a schedule of when you should go to Tim Hortons, etcetera — stuff that OReg wouldn’t be publishing.”

Dueck wanted to create something that was both encouraging to incoming students and the university, and a collection of students’ experiences seemed like an instant obvious choice.

“It was just like the lightbulb went on,” he said. “I wasn’t even thinking about it too much and I just thought letters, let’s do letters.

For Dueck, the book is a way to share the experience he had at UFV, but also help new students prepare for their own.

“I’ve had such a great experience — the small classes, great instructors that I can still have conversations with years after I’ve taken classes with them,” he said. “I’m going into being a teacher, so as an educator I value so highly these educators that poured so much into me and were so relational to me, even though at the university level sometimes there’s a stereotype that that’s not necessary, but here it’s just proven how powerful that is.”

As a general studies student with a minor in English, and a member of the UFV Cascades rowing team, Dueck’s story of attending UFV is limited to what he was involved in, but he’s hoping for the book to include more.

“I only have my experience,” he said. “I only have what I have, so this is my way of broadening the horizon so to speak … I want to hear from people who are taking computer science, people who are in the sciences and math, and people who are taking sociology and history, because that changes your perspective.”

Dueck announced his idea via Facebook last week, and has already gotten a positive and supporting response. He’s even received his first letter already.

“I literally just threw together a Facebook post and thought let’s see where this goes, and there was a decent response,” he said. “The feedback was very positive and I thought okay, this could be something that’s very cool.”

With final papers and exams still looming, the project is still in outline form, but Dueck hopes to complete it by the end of summer.

“I thought about it in the middle of writing final paper season — those creative breakthroughs always come at the worst time,” he said. “Right now I’m literally in preliminary form, but I’m thinking May / June, I’d love to just hammer this thing out, have some people read it, give me some feedback, and then I’d love to have this published in September.”

At this point, the requirements for submitting letters are not yet set.

“I originally made a rule, and I don’t know how flexible I am on this, that if you finish your third year or higher or you’re an alumni and you just have some praise to spew, by all means, send me a letter,” Dueck said. “By your third year, you’ve been able to experience a lot. You’ve been able to get involved in different areas, and you’ve had a variety of classes and instructors.”

Anyone interested in writing a letter can email Dueck at, or find more information through his Twitter (@RileyDueck).

“The past four years at UFV have been really great and I had a mentor that once told me that in the rough times you have to show exceptional determination, and in the good times you have to show great amounts of gratitude,” he said. “I feel like this is a fun, creative way for me to show a little bit of thanks for the institution I love so much.

“There’s so much good that’s going on and I would love for the institution to hear about it.”

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