We’re incredibly proud of the more than 2,200 people who earned the privilege of walking across the stage at the university’s Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 21, 22 and 23 at the Winspear Centre, including 520 from the Faculty of Arts and Science. We’re thrilled to be able to tell some of their stories.

Here, future counsellors, filmmakers, doctors, researchers, mathematicians, computer scientists and archaeologists (also known as the Class of 2022 graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science), look back on their time at MacEwan and forward to their bright futures. 

Sara Bruno

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Getting to know my professors was one of the defining features of my time at MacEwan. Through staying after class and going to office hours, I realized that I was meant to be a clinical counsellor, that I was in the right field and that I was intellectually capable of making my dreams come true. 

I am passionate about both psychology and sociology. I love learning about the unspoken patterns of humanity and the systems we have created. I feel that many things happen right before our eyes yet are often hidden or hard to see. My degree guided me to unpack these curiosities. 

But I’m taking away more than a degree from MacEwan. Through connecting with peers and being involved in Edmonton’s bustling art scene, I met a lot of amazing people. I made friends with an incredible and kind group of intellectuals, and one of them eventually became my best friend and partner. 

I am currently pursuing my Master's of Counselling at CityU in Vancouver. I am forever grateful to be already starting my next step and looking forward to starting my career soon.

Amanda Dubrule

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. While working as a welding apprentice, I began a degree in education. But early in that degree, I found myself in an introduction to philosophy class, and fell in love with philosophy. It enabled me to make sense of my world and myself and gave me the tools to contend with real social problems.

My family used to (and still does) make fun of me because of how many questions I ask. Philosophy lets me (and encourages me) to keep asking those questions. Especially now, when we see a resurgence of far-right, white nationalism and transphobia, it is incredibly important to examine and re-examine the prejudices we take for granted. 

Toward the end of my degree, I presented a paper on gender and habit at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. That experience made me realize that research was not only something that I could continue but something that I really wanted to keep doing. So I started speaking to faculty at different universities, and this September, I’ll be starting my PhD in Philosophy at the University of Oregon. I hope to continue to ask questions about queer and trans ways of being and how this relates to aesthetics, politics and ethics. After that? Who knows! I’m just as curious as anyone to see where it takes me.

Hannah Gibb

Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences
Governor General’s Silver Medal

It’s hard, but if I had to choose a single stand-out moment of my time at MacEwan, it would have to be when we were able to beat the U of A women’s basketball team for the first time in program history. That game was special because everyone was doing their part, and it really showcased our growth over the years. Playing basketball, representing MacEwan and seeing our team grow on and off the court have been incredible. I’m so lucky to have been on a team where I was able to build strong relationships and friendships. 

But the relationships I built weren’t just on the court. My professors are the one reason that I was able to excel. With basketball, I sometimes had to miss class, but the profs I was lucky enough to be taught by were so willing to help. They put in extra time to catch me up on the material and answer my questions. They were clear in what they expected, but they also helped me meet those expectations. 

I have so many good memories of my time at MacEwan. I really enjoy learning and loved getting to take classes in different disciplines so I could expand my range of knowledge. You can do well in school and have fun – it really is all about balance. 

What’s next for me? I hope to be able to attend medical school in the near future and specialize in pediatrics.

Zhushen Jiang

Bachelor of Science, Mathematics

At the beginning of my university life, I was confused about the decision of my major and minor. I was always thinking about the best subject for finding a job in the future. However, life is unpredictable, and plans can't always keep up with changes. After listening to many different suggestions and thinking about my situation, I chose math as my major. It was the subject I am most interested in and challenges me the most. 

The last two years of university life were a challenge for me. When the online teaching method started, I felt that I was having a hard time in my studies – it was difficult to ask math questions the way you would when they were written down on paper.  

But at the same time, I became a grader and marked different courses' assignments, which led me to study harder to make sure I could do a great job. Because of this, I still got an A- in the most difficult course for me, geometry. 

Jessica Lallana

Bachelor of Science, Psychology

When I came to MacEwan, I was at a bit of a loss with planning how the next few years would go. With assistance from academic advisors, self-reflection and a leap of faith, I applied to the psychology program (with a minor in sociology). It turned out to be a great decision. 

Towards the end of my degree, I found out that I had made it to the top 15 per cent of my program. I was incredibly proud of this achievement, but I was still searching for something bigger – a purpose, an intention, a sign to point me in the right direction after university. 

I found all those things I needed (and more) when I joined the MacEwan Anti-Violence Education Network (MAVEN) peer education team. It ignited my passion for supporting folks impacted by sexual violence and providing education on the important topic. I also met the most amazing people who shared the same passion and determination to create a world without sexual violence. I learned that you could empower and support others while leading with kindness, compassion and empathy. The experience has made my time at MacEwan incredibly valuable. 

Amanda Robinson

Bachelor of Arts, Honours Anthropology

Getting up the nerve to go to university was a big moment for me. Growing up, a few teachers told me that I was unteachable and would never amount to anything. I struggled to learn in certain areas, and, unfortunately, I took their words to heart. After being a hairstylist for 12 years, I decided to prove to myself that I am more than capable of pursuing my dreams.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in the whos, whats and whys of history. I believe diversity is beautiful and am driven by an eagerness to learn about different people, places, cultures and beliefs. 

My honours thesis focused on women in the Viking Age. I discussed women’s agency and how textile production made them central to the economy. Cloth was not only important to daily life; it was integral to trade and travel and was even a form of currency (vađmál or homespun cloth). My intent is to combat androcentric assumptions and narratives that women lived within a private sphere with little to no agency within a patriarchal world. While women inhabited a domestic space, I argue that their roles are far more public than initially portrayed. 

I plan to take a year off before applying to grad school and hope to get some hands-on experience in the field before taking a master’s in archaeology overseas. 

Pawandeep Kaur Sran

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science

In 2016, I came to Canada as an international student from India. I had been majoring in math – I love calculus and algebra – but when I took computer science, I found that subject even more interesting. 

While I was taking a computer security class, our group participated in the National Cyber League (NCL) competition and scored in the top 100 among thousands of competitors. It was a great practical experience in security.

I love learning different programming languages and algorithms, but I haven't decided what field of computer science I want to go into yet. I am leaning toward software engineering, but I am still exploring before starting my career. I am currently doing a PC Support technician certification to understand computer hardware better, and I plan to be a software engineer, systems analyst or IT analyst.

Megan Steiner

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

My route to graduation has been long and sometimes arduous. When I initially enrolled in 2014, I was already a mature student and took several years off after completing my third year to work, get married and travel. I decided to return to MacEwan during the pandemic. It was time to show myself that I could complete my degree. Accomplishing that feels fantastic. 

But I was very shy when I first came to MacEwan and struggled with many bouts of anxiety and self-doubt over the years. I was fortunate that Wellness and Psychological Services were there for me. They helped me find the self-confidence I needed to keep going. 

And joining a new initiative called University Students Offering Leadership for Violence Elimination (U-SOLVE) as a minute-taker during my first year allowed me to keep building that confidence and meeting new people. In 2015/16, I became U-SOLVE’s first student vice co-chair. Over the years, I’ve seen how dedicated MacEwan is to eliminating sexual violence and I’ve been so glad to be a part of that. 

Jessica Touznik

Bachelor of Science, Honours Psychology
Dean’s Medal

When my parents came to Canada from Ukraine, they didn’t know English and had no money, family or transferable education. What they did have was a newborn and a whole lot of courage. We lived under the poverty line, but I never lacked in love. They learned English, re-did high school and went to college – all while working full time. They are why I believed that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve and learn anything. 

I chose psychology because I had a lot of questions about the human experience. I am interested in finding ways to heal people as a whole. I often wonder about the existence or effects of a “spiritual wholeness” and its impact on health and behaviour. For instance, if spiritual wholeness is vital to Indigenous and other groups of people, are others neglecting that side of their humanity? In the future, I am interested in learning more about this way of thinking and how it affects our health and world within the boundaries of scientific measures.

Getting a degree means something, but facts alone won’t benefit humanity. I once heard someone say that the ethics of technology isn’t evolving as fast as technology itself. I think that’s true. I hope the next generation of scientists will help bridge this gap. I hope we become ethical, mature, humble and kind beings. I hope we make progress, but I also hope we notice if we’ve been progressing in the wrong direction.

Denanh Tran

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry

I was hooked from the first time I entered the research lab in my second year. I loved being in that space and using my knowledge of theory to combine chemicals and create different products. I was so intrigued that I even used my free time to perform experiments and learn outside of the curriculum. It was so much fun. 

But it took me a while to figure that out. My best advice to other students is to talk to your professors earlier than I did. I never realized that doing research and performing experiments was an option until I spoke with my chemistry professor.

I love chemistry, but now that I’ve finished my degree, I plan to try out other fields I’ve always been interested in. I don’t want to have regrets, so I might as well try out as many things as I can while I’m young. I know I can always lean on my degree.

So I’m off to Toronto in the fall, where I’ve been accepted to the Toronto Film School.

Elaine Tran

Bachelor of Arts, Honours Sociology
President’s Medal for Academic Excellence and Student Leadership

When I applied for early admission at MacEwan’s Open House and was accepted, I called my dad. I was on the verge of tears because it meant something special for me to be the first in my immediate family to attend a post-secondary institution. My dad has always been my greatest inspiration. He was 20 when he arrived in Canada after the war in Vietnam – just two years younger than I am now. I often compare his experience to my own. 

My original plan was to pursue social work, but I enjoyed sociology so much that I chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts. I have always asked many “why” questions, and sociology allowed me to take a step back to look at the bigger picture or through a wider lens and find answers.

But that first year of university was difficult. Most of my friends chose different schools, so I felt very isolated and alone. I wanted to meet new people and make friendships – the kind you see in movies about university – so I decided to join a student group. Back then, the Vietnamese students' group only had three members, including me, but we worked hard planning and facilitating events to connect domestic and international students. I built friendships, learned about my culture and discovered the history and legacy of student alliances created by the first Vietnamese refugees all over the world. 

Once I found my niche, I continued getting more involved on campus with the Students’ Association of MacEwan University’s (SAMU’s) volunteer programs and in the Office of Human Rights, Diversity, and Equity’s first cohort of Champions of Diversity and Equity (C.O.D.E.) training. And those experiences led to more – working as an international program guide for a group of students from Mexico, as a peer health educator and for three years as a tutor in the Writing Centre. 

I experienced so much personal and professional growth there. When I was taking SOCI 271: Introduction to the Family, we had to do a book review and only a select few would be published. I spoke with one of my supervisors about my approach and she was so excited she bought the book I was reviewing so she could read it. When I received 100 per cent on that assignment, I rushed to the centre to let everyone know. I remember all of us jumping for joy in our small office. I felt so empowered, happy and supported. 

The culmination of my many experiences as a student – including experiencing loneliness and isolation in my first year and needing support – made me want to advocate for other students, empower them and enhance their experience. So over the next year, I will continue my term as vice-president of Student Life at SAMU.

After that, I plan to continue with graduate studies in social work – becoming a registered social worker has been my goal since high school – but now my plan is to work with older adults. I want to be able to advocate for better health and well-being for older adults, including my dad.

Christine Zolondek

Bachelor of Arts, Honours Sociology

My honours project investigated how the pandemic impacted working mothers' lives – how they navigated challenges such as homeschooling and remote work. The countless hours I put into this project turned out to be well worth it. I received this year's Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award in Sociology. My paper will be featured in the Canadian Journal of Family and Youth student issue, and I presented my thesis at an international virtual mothering conference. Being one of only a few students attending with professors and professionals in their fields is definitely a moment that I will never forget!

But when I applied to MacEwan, I had no idea what I wanted to study. I took a Sociology 100 class, not thinking I would like it at all, but I fell in love. Discovering the subdiscipline of feminist sociology deepened my interest in and passion for social issues, especially those related to gender. 

It was daunting at first, but getting involved and taking the nerve-wracking step of pressing “send” on that volunteer application can lead to meeting amazing people and making awesome memories. As a MAVEN Peer Educator and a C.O.D.E (Champion of Diversity and Equity) Ambassador, I learned so much and met such great people. 

I hope to go on to address, in some way, the inequalities women and girls face every single day. Whether that turns out to be in policy-making, non-profit work or in social services is still to be determined. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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