For Brock graduate Lindsay Cline, getting a PhD sometimes felt more like a test of perseverance than of intelligence.But when Cline conferred Wednesday and joined her Applied Health Sciences colleagues on the stage, she was recognized with the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic achievement. Maintaining a 97 per cent average, Cline finished the year with the highest grade of Brock’s 433 graduate students.“I didn’t set out to get the highest grade at Brock,” said Cline (BKIN ’09, MA ’11, PhD ‘17.)Lindsay ClineBeginning her educational journey at Brock in 2005 as an undergraduate student and athlete, Wednesday was the culmination of 12 years of her life.“Brock has been a second home to me for over a decade. A huge chapter of my life is coming to a close,” she said. “I’m fortunate that it is ending on such a high point surrounded by family, friends and great mentors.”Cline initially came to Brock to play basketball, but after suffering an injury at the beginning of her third year, she realized she needed to take a step back and focus on her education.This new-found focus put her on a path that led to not only the highest academic degree a graduate student can achieve, but the highest grades, as well.“There were definitely challenging moments that tested me, but getting this degree was my goal. So, I pushed through and I’m really proud of how things have turned out,” she said.Cline acknowledges that being a graduate student felt isolating at times, but thanks to her family, her supervisor Kinesiology Associate Professor Kimberley Gammage, and a core group of fellow students, she found the support she needed.“It was never the plan to stay and do three degrees at Brock, but one great experience kept rolling into another,” she said.Cline said her PhD thesis, Mind over Matter: Exploring the Power of a Positive Body Image, picked up where her Master’s left off.“My Master’s looked at negative body image, but it was important for me to tell the whole story,” she said. “Doing a PhD afforded me that opportunity, with my defence being the experience that brought everything together.”While she has started to think about her next big adventure outside of academia, Cline enjoyed spending Wednesday celebrating with her family.“My parents have been absolutely supportive of me throughout this whole experience. Brock has been such a big part of our lives, there was even a time when my younger sister, Michelle Cline (BA ’12) and I were both completing degrees here.”Amongst the celebrations, Cline still finds herself missing one important person.“My grandpa passed away just as I started my PhD and so he didn’t get to see all of this. He instilled in me the importance of education by talking to me about success from a very young age,” she said. “He was such an important influence that I dedicated my thesis to him.”Throughout her PhD, Cline was the recipient of the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, as well as several Brock awards that highlight both qualities of academic excellence and leadership, including the Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Award and the Barb Daly Excellence & Student Leadership Award.Cline was among six recipients of doctoral degrees awarded Wednesday by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. This is the largest number of PhD’s awarded in one ceremony in the history of the Faculty.The other awardees include:Paul Jurbula, PhD in the field of Social and Cultural Health StudiesAmanda Longo, PhD in the field of Health BiosciencesGregory McGarr, PhD in the field of Health BiosciencesHisham Omar Sharif, PhD in the field of Behavioural and Population HealthScott Veldhuizen, PhD in the field of Behavioural and Population HealthScott Veldhuizen, Amanda Longo, Lindsay Cline, and Gregory McGarr the newest PhDs in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.