01/21/2013 04:33 EST | Updated 03/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Merit Without Accolades

If the world were a perfect place, we'd all be fully recognized, rewarded and appreciated for our hard work -- and talent and perseverance would be the only way to get ahead. But in our fast-track world, does merit always mean success? That's what the MeriTALKracy initiative is all about. Inspired by the motto on the Upper Canada College school crest -- Palmam qui meruit ferat (let he who merited the palm bear it) -- we ask, who deserves it and how has a commitment to earning it shaped one's life? In a series reflecting on this question of merit, prominent UCC alumnae weigh in. We'd like to hear your thoughts too!

I went to Upper Canada College in Toronto for high school. The school's coat of arms bore the Latin phrase Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat, which translates to "Let him bear the palm who has deserved it." This was a living motto for me during my time at UCC and since. The privilege of attending a private school like UCC does not mean it's an automatic entitlement to success. In addition to a responsibility for improving the greater good of society as a result of the opportunities afforded through this school experience, success must be earned and deserved, thus "merited."

The dictionary defines "merit" in several ways. But they all include a reward, honour, praise or gratitude as recognition for some worthy or deserving deed(s). But the deed must be achieved prior to the recognition of merit. Too often in today's complex and troubled society, some people seek the merit before the deed. As the UCC motto says, "Let him bear the palm who has deserved it." And I would say, only to those who truly deserve it. In the perfect world, to me, real merit is from action without accolades; what you do when no one is watching.