One of the highlights at Convocation on May 21 was the admission of one of the Meds Class of 2015 to the Queen’s University Tricolour Society.

Benjamin Frid was admitted to the Society through the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award—the highest honour given to a Queen’s student for non-academic, non-athletic activities. Recipients are chosen by their fellow students.

For Frid, it had been a bit of a wait to be inducted into the Tricolour Society: He was actually nominated and accepted for the award in 2012-2013, but it is presented upon graduation.

The award—named after Dr. Agnes Benidickson, Chancellor of Queen’s University from 1980 to 1996—is presented in recognition for valuable and distinguished service of outstanding individuals to the University. According to the Tricolour website, “such service may have been confined to a single field, or it may have taken the form of a significant contribution over a wide range of activities.” For Frid, his contributions definitely spanned a range of activities. Among those contributions included in the citation read at convocation were:

  • He founded the Kingston chapter of Making Waves, a student-run organization that provides affordable private swimming lessons for children with disabilities
  • He was Aesculapian Society president
  • He formed of a wellness committee to address mental health issues for medical students
  • He was founder and president of the Health Care Management Interest Group, a team involved with addressing the deficit in financial literacy that many physicians today are burdened with

“Ben’s spirited inclusive, and enthusiastic approach to life has influenced the lives of innumerous students and the greater Kingston community for the better,” the citation said.

Frid’s journey to this award actually began with his first undergraduate degree where he had what he describes as “limited extra-curricular involvement.”

“It left me feeling that I had really missed out on a lot of interesting and important opportunities,” he wrote in an email interview. “I think university is the perfect time to start becoming more involved. You are surrounded by such energetic people and a university that wants to help students do great things, I really think it’s the best time in person’s life to try and make a difference and improve the lives of those around them.”

Frid got more involved at the Telfer School of Business at the University of Ottawa where he started the Ottawa Making Waves chapter, was a teaching assistant and began taking leadership courses. This new habit of involvement continued when he came to Queen’s School of Medicine.

Ben Frid
Ben Frid immediately after Convocation. (Photographs courtesy of Ben Frid’s family)

“At Queen’s, I was heavily involved in student government through our class council, our Aesculapian Society, and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (in addition to lots of other groups and projects), but by far my favourite was Making Waves!”

Frid admits that balancing extra-curricular activities with medical school studies wasn’t always easy. “I had to learn some new skills and become a more organized person,” he said. “Fortunately, Queen’s faculty are very supportive of students who want to be involved,” he added.

“I think extra-curriculars are an important component of mindfulness,” he pointed out. “Just like eating well and exercising regularly, finding consistent positive and rewarding experiences are a key part of managing the heavy workload of medical school.”

“Even though it can create a bit of a time crunch, I think I was a far better medical student for the extra responsibilities I took on.”

“The beginning of medical school should not be the end of your hobbies and passions,” Frid said when asked for advice for the incoming Class of 2019. “Grow them! Pursue what you have loved to do, and take advantage of all the new experiences that will soon present themselves. Your fellow medical students are every bit as passionate as you are, and together you can do incredible things.”

Frid noted that he is “inspired by the people I have had the privilege of working for,” and pointed to one example from the early days of Making Waves in Kingston.

“I remember wondering how long it would take for instructors and their kids to bond, and for us to start seeing evidence of value we were generating for the community,” he said. “While setting up for just the second lesson, I remember watching one of our kids recognizing his instructor in the aquatic centre lobby, his eyes opening wide as could be, and him launching into a full speed sprint with arms outstretched to go hug his instructor he had only met one week before.  I knew then that we had happened upon something special and that memory has stayed with me.”

Frid will begin his Family Medicine residency in July here at Queen’s. As he moves on to the post-graduate program, he’s left Making Waves in good hands. “The medical students in the classes of 2017 and 2018 are doing an incredible job of growing Making Waves from where we left off, and are to be commended for their hard work and successes,” he said. “Making Waves Kingston is a Queen’s-wide initiative with key leadership from the Queen’s School of Medicine, and it is thriving under its new leadership.”

According to the Society’s web page, Frid is the first medical student to receive the Tricolour since Ahmed Kayssi (Meds2009) in 2005-2006. Because of this, Frid was “particularly proud to be attracting some attention to the amazing things Queen’s Medical students have been doing year in and year out.”

Frid said he felt very honoured to receive the award and was quick to point out that he had much support along the way: “None of the projects I was involved in were individual, so I feel very grateful to the QMed faculty and students, particularly my classmates in the Class of 2015, that helped those projects be successful.”