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Final Exam

Profile photo of Dyane Adam.

Knowledge Seeker

The former Official Languages Commissioner shares how books, curiosity — and a little defiance — shaped her life.

By Laura Bickle
Photo: John Carvalho

Name: Dyane Adam

Describe yourself in elementary school.

I was a straight-A student academically but not in compliance and obedience. I had a streak of defiance — rules were not to be followed blindly.

Describe yourself in high school.

I was curious and enjoyed learning from those who challenged me.

What were your favourite subjects?

Sciences, biology and math. They came naturally to me and I liked the teachers.

Most embarrassing school moment?

I was the student council president, and we had organized a musical event. Students booed — and I felt responsible.

Favourite historical figures?

The writer and activist Simone de Beauvoir. I am a feminist. I believe that women need to take their full place in society, in all areas of decision-making. She represents that philosophy and the issues she raised remain current.

Favourite literary pieces studied?

The Chrysalids, A Tale of Two Cities and Lord of the Flies. They made you think about society; how people deal with one another. In high school, I read works by Jean-Paul Sartre and L’Étranger by Albert Camus. They were philosophical eye-openers for me that led me to question the nature of human existence.

Who is your hero?

I’m not a hero-oriented person but I would say my mother. My father died when I was five years old. She took charge and made us responsible citizens. That’s the toughest job you can do, and she managed it pretty well on her own.

What are you currently reading?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab and Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

Best life lesson learned at school?

It was a very tight-knit school environment. We were taught to be sensitive to others.

Best memory from graduation day?

My dress. My sister made it. It was turquoise and went up to my neck — it wouldn’t be cool today but I love it and I’ve kept it. I wore it when I was inducted into my former high school’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

If you could pick any year to attend school in, which would you choose?

I loved my school life but I am attracted to today’s methods of teaching and technology, as well as the access to international exchange experiences — it’s a very formative time.

Qualities you most appreciated in a teacher?

Passion for the subject matter, along with an ambition for themselves and their students to reach their highest potential.