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Ryan scores perfect GPA and top honours at Dalhousie

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Forty A-plus grades: Ryan Topple received the University Silver Medal for the effort he put into his studies during his four years at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Canada, in which he earned a perfect grade point average of 4.3 (Photograph supplied)

For four years, Ryan Topple scored an A+ in every single course he took at Dalhousie University. The massive accomplishment resulted in a perfect grade point average of 4.3 and placed him at the top of his graduating class of 3,976 students. At the university’s convocation ceremony on June 2, Ryan received an honours bachelor’s degree in medical sciences and the University Silver Medal.

The award earned him a standing ovation.

The 22-year-old, a previous head boy at Saltus Grammar School, said he had always done well in school, but didn’t expect that he would be able to maintain that standard at Dalhousie, a leading university in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The University Silver Medal is awarded to “the graduate who is judged to be the leading first class honours student among graduates of baccalaureate programmes”.

According to Ryan, a lot of “hard work” and the unwavering support of friends, teachers and his parents, Shannon and Kevin Topple, helped.

“I tried really hard at Saltus and I graduated on the Dean's List with, I think, an almost perfect GPA,” he said. “I was involved in the music department there, the leadership activities, that kind of stuff. And I took a bunch of the AP classes as well in my last year at Saltus.

“So I had a strong foundation to start with but it was really unexpected to continue that through university as well.”

In September, Ryan is off to the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, where he hopes to complete a bachelor of medicine and surgery degree.

He got interested after a basic Emergency Measures Technician course that he took in Bermuda in 2021, which led to volunteer work with King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and St John Ambulance.

At Dalhousie the following year, he signed up for an advanced EMT course, ultimately becoming “the youngest nationally registered advanced EMT here in Bermuda”.

That same year he went on staff at KEMH, working through holiday breaks from school.

“That's sort of where my initial interest in medicine came in, when I got to experience the clinical side of things, actually interacting with patients and being able to to help them,” he said.

“And then also I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2018. Having that sort of personal experience and interaction with doctors and medical professionals, that pushed me in the medical direction as well.”

Practical experience: Ryan Topple is Bermuda’s youngest nationally registered advanced emergency medical technician, having served here at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, St John Ambulance and at Dalhousie Medical Campus Response Team in Halifax (Photograph supplied)

He was thrilled to be able to put his knowledge as an EMT to work with the Dalhousie Medical Campus Response Team.

“I think that was probably a big difference compared to my time at Saltus. I did take time to go out and have fun and be involved in the Dalhousie community,” Ryan said. “The DMCRT was basically a student-run organisation that we had, and we would respond to any medical or mental health emergencies on campus.”

He started as a volunteer medical responder in his third year and quickly progressed to a duty supervisor; in his fourth year he became the executive director of the team.

“We led probably around fifty volunteer medical responders [and] eight duty supervisors,” he said. “We would do overnight shifts on campus on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in one of the residences, and then we would do day shifts as well, covering any of the calls that would come in on campus.

“So my background as an advanced EMT in Bermuda on the ambulance was really good preparation for that.”

The work was on top of a demanding course load.

“I’m definitely thankful for the support from my parents, my family, friends, teachers and everyone who helped me along the way. It took a lot of long and sleepless nights, but I eventually got through it and managed the amazing achievement of all 40 A-pluses.”

The first year of university coincided with the onset of the pandemic. Ryan completed his courses online and discovered he was “quite familiar” with much of the content.

“That was just the general chemistry, biology, physics, basic anatomy, that kind of stuff. After I got all the A-pluses in the first year I was like, ‘I wonder if I can continue throughout the next few years?’ And it just kept happening every semester.”

Sometime during his second year at Dalhousie, he learnt about the Silver Medal.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, can I achieve this throughout all four years of school?’ It was sort of in the back of my brain: you know what, if I can do it that would be great.

“Usually there's, I think, one person who does manage to achieve that and I think it's usually from the medical science cohort. But they said it's a rare thing to achieve, and that's why they get the prestigious medal for that.”

Proud parents: Ryan Topple, centre, with his parents, Shannon and Kevin at Dalhousie University’s convocation ceremony this month (Photograph supplied)

Although the award was nice, Ryan especially appreciated that it recognised all the hard work he put in.

His parents, who both work in international business, were thrilled with his accomplishment.

To celebrate, the family went on “an amazing trip” to Costa Rica.

“I was only notified about the award [after the term had ended and I was] back in Bermuda. I don't think I quite told my parents about all of my grades along the way. So they were both very surprised and proud of me.

“My mom posted it on Facebook and now I have everyone coming up to me. I'm like, ‘Oh gosh, I don't know if I gave permission for that to go on Facebook’,” he joked.

As for his long-term plan with medicine, Ryan isn’t quite sure.

“I'm sort of leaving my options open. I'd like to do a few more rotations – hopefully here in the Bermuda hospital – and get a better idea, once I progress through medical school, what I'd like to do,” he said. “Obviously, I've had quite a bit of experience in the ER, and I've been able to shadow some people in the operating room as well.

“So we'll see. I don't want to put any firm plans in place. We'll see what happens once I get some more experience.”

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Published June 14, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 15, 2024 at 8:13 am)

Ryan scores perfect GPA and top honours at Dalhousie

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