Check out how undergrads of each year feel about wrapping up their first post-COVID restriction era university year.

Adriana Miranda — 1st Year Social Sciences 

While first-year social science student Adriana Miranda would describe her overall first-year experience as rewarding, she expressed how completing her first year has left her with hard-hitting life lessons she can always carry with her.  

Miranda feels that she truly came into learning how to confidently advocate for herself and her needs. She now understands that in university if she needs access to any available resources on campus, she must ask for it herself. This component of university taught Miranda that she must always be aware of her rights.  

Even if Miranda is currently enjoying wrapping up her second semester with new friends, as a racialized student she faced systemic barriers in her first semester when she was still relatively new at McMaster.  

“I never felt othered until I started attending McMaster. I saw many racialized students experience isolation and have difficulty making friends. Noticing this influenced how I viewed my classes, peers and professors. Thankfully, once I made friends everything got better,”

Adriana Miranda

In Miranda’s experience, she believes that McMaster can take a greater initiative when it comes to protecting and standing up for students experiencing sexual harassment and violence on campus. Even in departments dedicated to handling such issues such as the Human Rights and Dispute Resolution Program Miranda did not feel cared for or validated by the school.  

“After all that, my main takeaway is that it’s built on colonialism and patriarchy. I’m realizing that now, I’m not going to be as naïve and as trusting with the institution because I’m now aware of what people in charge perpetuate,” said Miranda.  

Going forward, Miranda will focus on finding spaces for racialized students like the Latin American Student Association and Women and Gender Equity Network where she can feel safer and more included.  

Elizabeth Rylaarsdam — 2nd Year Life Sciences - Sensory Motors System  

Now in her second year, Elizabeth Rylaarsdam had to adapt her first year in the life sciences program online. This year, she moved to Hamilton from Ottawa.  

“When everything was online, it still felt like school. However, when I moved away alone for the first time to a new city and transitioned to a hybrid [format], everything felt optional,”

Elizabeth Rylaarsdam

In this year’s hybrid academic model, Rylaarsdam had trouble staying motivated in her online courses as switching between online and in person repeatedly between courses made some classes feel more real for her than others. Rylaarsdam had to adapt her learning style many times in university due to the COVID approaches taken by McMaster along with many second-years and has been unable to establish a routine that works for her.  

Living alone combined with the physical demands caused by in-person learning made Rylaarsdam lessen the number of hours she worked to avoid falling behind academically. She reduced her working hours from 30 hours a week to 10 to 12 hours even if her living expenses increased.  

It was difficult for Rylaarsdam to find a core social group within a school setting as she observed others in her year have somehow formed friend groups already. Aside from hanging out with her hometown friends from high school friends who also attend McMaster, Rylaarsdam managed her mental health by joining the Hamilton Hornets Women’s Rugby Club.  

Playing rugby weekly allowed Rylaarsdam to stay in shape while being able to find a community that she regularly socializes with in a new city. 

“Despite the tumultuous learning curves of moving and finally starting in person university where I felt like I experienced much of the learning I was supposed to get in my first year in my second year, I am hopeful about starting fresh next semester after a restful summer now that I know what to expect,” explained Rylaarsdam.  

Jaclyn Holdsworth — 3rd year Arts and Sciences  

Jaclyn Holdsworth’s third-year experience in the arts and sciences was defined by the bonding she experienced with her cohort post lockdown. Holdsworth experienced connecting and making friendships in her first year within the community culture fostered by her program before enduring Zoom university until this semester.  

“After so much time in lockdown, everyone had more appreciation for the kind of social network and the relationships we wanted to have with others. We are a lot more willing to foster relationships and the quality of those relationships are a lot more authentic,”

Jaclyn Holdsworth

Experiencing the isolation of Zoom school was difficult for Holdsworth, however it caused her to become more willing to acknowledge the times when she is not feeling her best. To mitigate her mental health, Holdsworth stresses the importance of doing at least one small act of self-care every day, be it restocking snacks or going for a walk.  

Embracing and taking care of oneself even when times are tough allowed many third-years like Holdsworth to understand that better times await, and that you are in a much better position to be able to support other others if you start to take care of yourself as well. 

Upon tasting in-person life after a world-shattering event, and still with one year of university left, Holdsworth vows to make herself happy everyday instead of planning for possible contentment five years down the line. Trying not to take her undergraduate experience for granted anymore, Holdsworth encourages everybody to take the time to be present and practice gratitude every day.  


“I would prefer not another pandemic if you can arrange for that. Plan for tomorrow but don’t depend on it,” said Holdsworth. 

Claudia Yong — 4th year Kinesiology (Graduating) 

Working tirelessly on her kinesiology degree throughout her undergrad, Claudia Yong waves a bittersweet goodbye to her time as an undergrad student as she returned to classes in-person just in time to graduate. Yong still feels a little unfamiliar in her position as a fourth-year student given that she lost a year to COVID, and wonders if other graduating students are also feeling a sense of imposter syndrome.  

“The moment I realized I was graduating was when we were taking grad photos. When I put on the gown and sat in the chair for photos, it was surreal, and I could not believe it. The moment the camera went off I finally realized that I’m graduating,” said Yong. 

Fortunately, the return to classes this academic year allowed Yong to pursue the hands-on thesis work she always dreamt of doing and ignited a passion for research in her. Missing out on much of the experiential learning of her science degree in her third year, COVID greatly influenced Yong’s decision to pursue a masters to once again give herself the opportunity to explore and further expand on the research skills she fell in love with.  

With the end of her degree, Yong is continuing to learn not to compare herself and her journey with others, understanding that everybody has their own destined trajectory.  

Referencing the kindness of her kinesiology professors, Yong always encourages the importance of fostering meaningful connections for personal enrichment with faculty members, regardless of a desire for recommendation letters.  


“Many women including myself experience a lot of dismissiveness in healthcare, even from other female practitioners. I want to positively impact the healthcare system for women who might otherwise avoid treatment,”

Claudia Yong

 

By: Jenna Tziatis, Marketing Assistant, McMaster University Continuing Education

In today’s tough job market a degree alone may not be enough to get you the job or promotion that you’re looking for.  Employer expectations are higher and are expecting more than the knowledge that comes with a degree. They are also scrutinizing candidates based on their enhanced skill-sets and experience to ensure they are hiring someone who will fit and integrate into their business and culture with the least disruption.

Savvy students are realizing this trend and responding by upskilling themselves to ensure that they stand out in the employment crowd and that their resume rises to the top of the pile.  If you’re thinking about getting ahead, McMaster Continuing Education offers a variety of learning options from diplomas and certificates to micro learning options. Whether your focus is in the field of business, health or professional development, there are many to choose from:

To make it easier for Mac students, McMaster Continuing Education offers a faster route to get you ahead with Degree + Diploma.  This opportunity allows you to earn a diploma or certificate while you work toward your degree.  You can use your elective credits in your current program of study toward a diploma or certificate with Continuing Education, allowing you to gain your qualifications faster. This opportunity is gaining popularity among Mac students and can be easily set up by contacting your Academic Advisor.    

If you’re not ready to jump straight into getting a diploma or certificate you can always try one of McMaster Continuing Education professional development courses or attend our upcoming free Business Entrepreneur Series micro learning session that is running in spring.  It’s a great way to gain valuable and recognized skills in a condensed learning format.  To attend this series you can sign up at mcmastercce.ca/events/free-business-entrepreneurship-series

Regardless of what you decide, by recognizing the demands of today’s job market and being proactive to acquire the skills that businesses are looking for will make you more visible and appealing to employers.  Continuing Education will give you that competitive edge to get ahead and land that job you’re looking for.

To learn more about these valuable learning options visit www.mcmastercce.ca

 

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 Photo by Kyle West

By: Rida Pasha

Whether it’s the real world being brought into the classroom by a professor, or the ease in explanation provided by a teaching assistant, there is no doubt that a good learning experience is a product of the time and energy of professors and TAs.

However, these educators are often overlooked and underappreciated for their efforts to bring life to course content. It’s time we become more active in acknowledging our professors and TAs.

The 2019 Teaching Awards Ceremony, an event run by a subcommittee of McMaster Students Union Macademics, was held on March 15, presenting nominated professors and TAs with awards for their excellence in teaching.

As someone involved in organizing and attending the event, a common remark made by the winners was that the greatest compliment they could receive was hearing appreciation from their students.

Although we generally view professors and TAs to be confident people in positions of authority, it was interesting that many of them discussed how even though it’s their job to lecture or run tutorials, they still feel a sense of nervousness before the start of each class.

Though instructors are strongly educated and qualified, it’s reassuring for them to hear that they’re doing a good job from their students.

Let’s take the time to compliment instructors that incorporate memes into their presentations, relate class material to our generation, take feedback seriously and actually make course improvements based off of them.

It’s easy to take their efforts for granted, but if you really enjoyed a class, let your instructor know after class or send them an email with follow-up questions.

Trying to be actively engaged in class is a great way to show instructors that what they’re saying is interesting. Although three-hour lectures can start to drag on, it’s great to ask questions or give your professor a nod of understanding when they look in your direction.

With course evaluations now open, spare a few minutes to describe what you like about your classes so far, and provide suggestions if you have any.

Not only is this an opportunity to give your input, it’s also a great way for professors to cater their class to their students’ needs, something many professors genuinely want to do.

When it’s Teaching Award nomination season, make sure you nominate professors and TAs that are doing a great job. The process takes no more than five minutes and can make all the difference for the educators you’re nominating.

Besides the fact that appreciating your teachers is a kind gesture, it’s also important to remember that beyond the course they are teaching, professors and TAs have industry knowledge and professional experience that could benefit you.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about the field they’re in, getting advice about graduate school or acquiring volunteer opportunities, it’s not a bad idea to start building a relationship with your instructors by showing them how they’re making your learning experience better.

Of course, be genuine and mean what you say, but recognize that sharing your thoughts and opinions about a class can result in a really great professional relationship.

There are classes you will love and others you will hate. But amongst the many that are boring, annoying and difficult, we all have at least one class that we look forward to attending, even on a rough day.

As students, let’s take the time to show our appreciation for our beloved educators that make a positive difference in our lives.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Drew Simpson

The Division of Labour exhibit portrays sustainable ways of creating art while also looking at the difficulties of creating a sustainable art career. Housed in the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre’s main gallery space until April 20 and accompanied by a panel discussion, Division of Labour warns of the scarcity of resources, labour rights and living wages of artists.

Division of Labour also serves as an educational tool to communicate and start discourse around the issues regarding sustainability. The Socio-Economic Status of Artists in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area discussion, which was facilitated by Divisions of Labour curator, Suzanne Carte, and included panelists Sally Lee, Michael Maranda and Angela Orasch, encouraged artists to be vocal and seek action.

“People want to be around artists, but they really don’t. If they were living in the reality that a lot of artists are living in, it would not be favourable. What they want is the pseudo creative lifestyle. They want to be around beautiful things and smart people, but they don’t really want to be assisting with making sure artists are making a living wage and that artists are being supported financially,” explained Carte.

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For emerging artists, this exhibits presents a valuable learning experience as it informs them of community issues. This topic is particularly important since emerging artists are often asked to work for free, often under a pretense that the work will add to their portfolios or lead to exposure. However, Carte argues that asking artists to work for free devalues the work they do.  

“Because you are emerging, and because you’re new to the practice does not mean that any institution, organization or individual business, whatever it might be, can take advantage of you and use it as exposure… it’s not about gaining experience — I can gain experience on the job. I can gain experience while being compensated for what I do,” explained Carte.

While Carte encourages individuals to stand up for themselves, she understands that many artists may not be in a position to be able to reject sparse opportunities. She, alongside the panelists at the discussions, further discussed ways emerging and established artists can fight for their rights.

Lee gave an overview of organizations and advocacy groups that focus on bettering labour and housing situations and are making communities aware of gentrification and the living experiences of artists in Hamilton and Toronto.

Maranda added that lobbying for bigger grants or funding is not enough. The community also needs to be advocating for the improvement of artists’ economic status through establishing a basic or minimum hourly wage, affordable rent and transportation.

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Recently, Maranda was a quantitative researcher for the Waging Culture survey. The survey investigated home ownership in Hamilton compared to Toronto. Maranda concluded that Hamilton artists are less reliant on the private market and contribute more to the public art community.  

The survey also suggested an artist migration from Toronto to Hamilton due to Hamilton’s lower rent and higher artist home ownership. This leads to a domino effect as real estate agents and developers follow the migration and aid gentrification.

Orasch stated that real estate agents and developers have secretly attended similar panel discussions. The panelists speculated they do so to learn how to market housing to artists. However, the overall sentiment was that they crossed into an artist-designated space to further exploit artists.

“Developers are taking advantage of the language that we have been able to construct for ourselves, to be able to be attractive to other artists or other individuals who feel as though they want an “artsy” experience out of life,” explained Carte.

Lee emphasized how all these surveys and discussions need to reach key decision makers. The Division of Labour exhibit and the panelists at the discussion have repeatedly stressed that talk is merely educational, the true goal is action and change.  

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Rida Pasha

It is unsurprising that there is an increase in mental health issues among university students, especially here at McMaster University. Whether it is stress, relationships, family or work, there are numerous factors that can contribute to developing mental health issues.  

While professional help is encouraged, such as therapy or counselling, these services can be very expensive for the average student.

Though McMaster prides itself on the mental health resources it provides, such as those at the Student Wellness Centre, it is commonly known that the university has much room for improvement.

One of the ongoing concerns at the SWC is the amount of time it takes to actually see a counsellor.

The lack of counsellors present at McMaster has been an issue for a while and though various students have advocated for the SWC to hire more counsellors in order to meet the demand, it is important that any counsellors hired reflect the student population at McMaster.

The university is home to various groups of people that come from diverse backgrounds and communities. Not only is it important for students to see more representation at the SWC, it is also important to acknowledge that many students feel more comfortable seeking help from counsellors that they can relate to.

For a university that is home to thousands of students of colour and members of the LGBTQA2S+ community, it is essential that the SWC hire more counsellors that are able to relate and provide a sense of understanding to these students’ struggles.

As someone who is an Indian immigrant that grew up in Canada, I personally would feel more prompted to seek counselling if I knew there were Asian professionals that had a similar background to mine.

I would feel more encouraged to discuss details of my life such as my culture and heritage, which is something that my counsellor could likely relate to without misunderstanding.

Additionally, as it can be difficult for international students to adjust to Canadian culture, they may wish to seek counselling. As it stands, there are not many services specified for international students concerning mental health and wellness.

If the SWC were to hire more counsellors aimed at improving the mental health of these international students, more students may be inclined to use their services to improve their mental health and overall experience at McMaster.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 34 per cent of Ontario high school students have indicated psychological distress on a moderate to serious level and these levels are only bound to increase during university.

Though McMaster has attempted to provide services aimed at improving mental health and wellness, it is time the university took active change.

It is vital that McMaster acts to not only increase the number of counsellors, but also to increase the diversity of counsellors available for the numerous groups of students who call McMaster home.

 

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Shloka Jetha is a woman who has always been on the move. After growing up in seven countries, the 23-year old has finally settled in Toronto and is pursuing her dream of working with at-risk youth. Part of what appealed to her about the new Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is that it’s online, which means she can set her own schedule and study on-the-go when she’s away from home.

But of course the biggest draw is the way Jetha feels the program will complement and expand upon what she learned in her McMaster degree in sociology, as well as what she is currently learning in a Child and Youth Care program at another school. With the goal of someday working in a clinical setting like the Sick Kids Centre for Brain and Mental Health, Jetha believes the more practical information she has about addiction and mental health, the better.

“I’m learning a lot in my current Child and Youth program,” Jetha enthuses, “but for me there is a bit of a knowledge gap that the McMaster Professional Addiction Studies program will help to close. It’s an incredibly complex field, every situation is new, and you need to be able read between the lines and understand the difference between what a troubled kid is saying and what’s actually going on in their life.”

Jetha believes that having the rich background knowledge the Professional Addiction Studies program will provide, and being able to link that information to her work in the field, will help her excel faster. Most importantly, she feels it will make her better and more effective at helping and healing kids in crisis.

“I’m specifically looking forward to gaining more knowledge about pharmacology, but also about other things as it’s difficult to learn on the job,” Jetha says. “I can learn a tremendous amount from the kids I work with, and that’s invaluable experience, but coming to them with a deeper knowledge base will allow me to talk with them about drugs and alcohol in a way I otherwise couldn’t.”

Jetha has been fortunate not to be personally touched by addiction, but has lost friends and people in her community from overdose. She is also familiar with the impact of this complex issue through the volunteer work she has done.

Even though this is an incredibly demanding career path, it’s one Jetha is proud and honoured to walk. She feels the good outweighs the bad and is determined to continue learning and helping as much as she can. The Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is uniquely designed to help her achieve that goal.

Applications for Spring term are open until April 29, 2019. Learn more at mcmastercce.ca/addiction-studies-program

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Maryanne Oketch

One of the reasons I chose to enrol at McMaster University was for the diversity that the school claimed to offer. Coming from a predominantly white secondary school, I was excited to attend a new school. I was hopeful that I would make connections within my program and maybe gain a support system consisting of people that could relate to the experience of being Black in academia.

When I entered the integrated science program in 2016, I was disheartened to realize that in my year of entry, I was the only student in my program that was Black, alongside two other individuals with mixed backgrounds. Within the week, this dropped to two, as one person switched out. Within the month, it then became clear that the two of us were not just the only Black students in our year, but in the whole four-year program.

This lack of Black peers created a feeling that I had to be the best of the best, and when I couldn’t reach that goal, I would withdraw rather than reaching out. This caused damage to my grades, reputation and relationships with my peers.  

It is a well-known fact that there is a disparity between the Black population and our representation in higher education. This gap can be seen more in supplementary-based programs that McMaster offers, and my experience unfortunately is not an isolated one.

Multiple students from different programs stated that the lack of Black students in their programs made them feel like there were few people who could relate to the struggles that come with being Black.

There was also another complexity that I did not consider — the fact that there are more Black women in academia than Black men. One health sciences student, upon realizing that they were the only Black man in their whole year, experienced feelings of isolation.

In addition, a justice, political philosophy and law student was the only Black man in their program, and though he is friends with Black women, he notes that it is not fully the same.  

Regrettably, the issues that stem from the lack of diversity do not just have interpersonal effects, but also affect the learning experience. A student in the arts and science program said that there were times when a professor or student would ask a question that pertained to race, and the question would seem pointed at them, the only Black student in their year.

This student can also recall a moment when a professor made a comment about how some students may be used to hearing racist jokes, and then locked eyes with them, creating an uncomfortable situation.

Another former arts and science student had a class where a classmate attempted to defend slavery, and a professor who taught a class about oppression but refused to use the term “racism”. The student states that they never felt challenged by the program, and felt that they had to do the challenging rather than their instructors. This was due, they say, to the structure and instruction of the program being catered to their affluent white peers and not to them.

The catering of programs does not seem limited to just arts and science but can also be seen in McMaster Engineering Society programs. A student within the program switched out after one semester due to the lack of actual inquiry in the program, but a focus on the marks received.

When a peer in their program stated that "the disadvantaged [in Hamilton] aren't doing enough for the more privileged to help them," the professor did not immediately shut down this false and insensitive statement, but instead was complacent. In addition, the structure of the program encouraged students to repeat the same statistics because that is what is needed for a good grade, and not because the students wished to learn more about societal issues.

If multiple Black students in different years and different programs are saying the same thing, there needs to be some sort of change to support these students when they are in the program. I am not suggesting these programs change their selection process, because this lack of diversity is a systemic issue, and I do not have the knowledge to provide suitable solutions to help mitigate the effects.

Regardless, if McMaster strives for diversity and does not have the necessary structure to support the diverse students that they already have, then their efforts are just a baseless claim to obtain more money from a diverse group of students.

 

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Photo C/O Black Aspiring Physicians of McMaster

On Feb. 2, Sonia Igboanugo, a fourth-year McMaster biomedical discovery and commercialization student and co-founder of Black Aspiring Physicians of McMaster, received the Lincoln Alexander scholarship at the John C. Holland awards, which celebrates African-Canadian achievement in Hamilton.

Igboanugo and McMaster grad student Kayonne Christy launched BAP-MAC during the 2016-2017 school year to support Black McMaster students striving to become physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Igboanugo was inspired to create the club following her attendance at a University of Toronto summer mentorship program geared towards Indigenous and Black students interested in health sciences.  

“I felt like that program changed my life in terms of inspiring me in what I thought I could do and what my capacity was as a potential health care professional,” Igboanugo said. “I felt very empowered and I felt very interested in this in bringing the same experience to McMaster.”

Since then, BAP-MAC has steadily grown. Currently, the club has over 100 members, proving a variety of resources to its members.

As part of the BAP-MAC mentorship program, younger students are paired with a mentor who provides academic and career guidance.

Throughout the year, BAP-MAC also arms students with information about research opportunities and hosts workshops and talks led by healthcare professionals.

At its core, however, BAP-Mac simply serves as a community for Black students on campus.

“For me, the biggest part has been connecting with older students who can help me navigate through university,” said first-year kinesiology student Ida Olaye, who aspires to go to medical school. “BAP-MAC gives you that support group, to know that you’re not alone, that there are a lot of people trying to pursue the same dream that you are pursuing and it is very doable.”

This past year, BAP-MAC received a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The grant has allowed BAP-MAC to host a conference for the first time. The event is scheduled for this upcoming May.

The grant also allows the club to expand its vision to empower Black youth on a larger scale.

“Because we have a pretty good campus presence, I would say, but the goal was to address the issue of lack of diversity on a more systemic front,” Igboanugo said.

Part of that is a new initiative aimed at incorporating high school students into the BAP-MAC program by connecting them to undergraduate student mentors.

Second-year human behaviour student Simi Olapade, who is also the associate director of multimedia for BAP-MAC, sees a lot of value in the initiative.  

“Reaching out to those high school students is an opportunity that I even wished I had to be honest. Seeing someone like you in a place where you want to be helps so much in terms of making you focus more on achieving that goal, making you more goal-oriented and making you more focused,” Olapade said.

Reflecting on the award she recently received, Igboanugo says the work she does as part of BAP-MAC only reflects how others have helped her.

“It was very humbling to actually be recognized for the work because it is the greatest thing or greatest privilege I have to always serve my community or use my strength to better my community and the people around me,” Igboanugo said.

Students wishing to get involved with BAP-MAC can learn more about the group’s initiatives on BAP-MAC’s Facebook page.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Nyakoar Wuol

The Black experience at McMaster University is not monolithic. I can and will only be speaking in regard to my experience as a Black woman at McMaster.

Being a political science student, I often find myself being the only Black woman or Black person in a tutorial or sometimes even an entire lecture hall.

Within the political science courses, discussions on race, intersectionality and different waves of feminism do not go as in-depth as I would expect them to. After listening to the opinions of white students in these tutorials and their views, it makes sense why these discussions are so limited.

Discussion on race can only go so far if individuals are not sure what to add to the discussion or do not know enough to engage. In tutorials, I feel that when certain topics arise that I find interesting or am knowledgeable of, my opinion is not understood in the way I want.

A perfect example of this would be in my recent tutorial. The tutorial was set up as a debate with around five of us sitting at the front table. We were meant to briefly discuss the key elements of our paper, then answer any questions or rebuttals. For the sake of context, my paper was speaking about the result of Apartheid and its impact on Black South Africans, namely their struggle to be financially independent.

The white man who made the rebuttal made statements along the lines of, “why can’t they pick themselves up by their bootstraps? why don’t they just buy land or a farm? you don’t need a post-secondary education to make money”. All the statements he made would have been answered had he listened to the points I initially made.

I responded by stating that there are systemic barriers in place which limits Black South Africans from attaining wealth or having any form of mobility in their social class. In the wise words of W. E. B. Du Bois, “a system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”

And yet after stating that, he was still not satisfied with my answer. He responded in a condescending tone but before I could defend my position, the teaching assistant moved the conversation to the next topic.

What I found most astounding was that this student was willing to stand in his ignorance than to believe that there are systemic barriers in place against Black folks not only in South Africa, but around the globe.

Another thing I noticed mainly in my sociology class and at a workshop I attended was that whenever there was a presence of Black folks, there was an underlying element of censoring from the white students. It seemed like they would mainly stick to saying socially-acceptable answers.

I feel that in order for anyone to learn they should not hinder themselves. White students seem to have this fear that if they say something that is not “acceptable”, then they will be vilified and have their opinion disregarded.

But choosing to only say what one thinks is acceptable does not result in any form of growth. If you fear that your true opinion or view is problematic, then perhaps ask yourself why that is?

Essentially, I feel that as a Black woman at McMaster there is much more that is needed to be done within academic spaces. This is mainly in regards to the limited discussions on race, and the lack of representation within the institution.

I, and many other Black students reading this, may feel that we are given the unasked role of being an educator of all things Black to white people. They may very well have certain questions or are limited in their knowledge on the Black experience.  

However, it is not Black students’ job to inform and educate. As a great friend of mine said, “Google is free and it’s a great research tool.”

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Youssef El-Sayes

Choosing a degree and career path is not an easy task. Students pursuing a degree in science have a wide variety of available career options. These range from positions in research, industry, medicine, illustration and so much more. It almost seems like the possibilities are endless.

But how does one truly understand their goals without experiencing their options? Many professionals end up with a job that they thought would interest them but eventually learn otherwise.

This issue has become so commonplace that institutions like McMaster University have developed strategies to help students gain a variety of experiences outside of their chosen undergraduate program. A great example are the interdisciplinary experience courses, offered by the school of interdisciplinary science.

For a full credit, students can choose from a wide array of IE courses that cover topics such as three-dimensional printing, visiting Kentucky for a caving fieldtrip or hiking Algonquin park while learning about Canadian history, geography and literature.

IE courses serve the purpose of introducing students to a variety of disciplines that will help broaden their perspectives and opinions towards science. By providing students with active learning opportunities, they can develop a personal connection and a deep motivation for the subject.

The idea of active learning has been studied for decades. In essence, active learning requires students to be engaged with the delivered content while critically thinking about the activities they are working on.

Current research suggests that fostering engagement in class activities is more likely to improve student learning compared to simply spending extra time on a topic. This is why IE courses available at McMaster University consist of short workshops, field trips or tutorials that keep students motivated and prove that learning does not need to be time consuming.

These experiences are especially rewarding for students because they earn a credit for their work. The results of IE courses are also long-lasting. For example, upon completion of IE courses, many students often undertake related volunteer positions and internships, in order to put what they have learned into practice.

Aside from personal growth, IE courses also provide a multitude of professional benefits. Due to the small class sizes, students can engage in one-on-one interactions with instructors or guest speakers and build valuable networking skills.

These experiences also set students apart by giving them something distinct and unique to include on a resume. Overall, IE courses allow students to build on their academic, personal and professional qualities and become multi-faceted individuals.

McMaster University has always led the path for innovative teaching and learning, and offering IE courses is no exception. Students should always challenge themselves to step outside of their comfort zone in order to find their real interests and ambitions. By doing so, students can become professionals in their fields that truly love what they do.

It is clear that experiential and active learning opportunities are able to foster skilled and competent individuals who are willing to create a brighter future, and this is exactly what McMaster has been striving to do. So the next time you are enroling for courses, consider taking an IE class.

 

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