Whether their futures are in history, social justice, mathematics or biology, we know our grads are primed to achieve great things. We asked some of the Arts and Science Class of 2016 about their most memorable moments at MacEwan University, points of pride and future plans. Here’s what they said.
Bachelor of Science, Mathematics
I’m not quick to judge, and I have math to thank for that. So often you think one thing in mathematics is true—your intuition tells you it must be—and then the theory says it’s not. You can rigorously and absolutely prove the thing you thought was true isn’t, so you need to look at things from a different perspective or learn more. That’s incredibly humbling. And it’s changed how I live my life. How can I judge or get angry at something I don’t completely understand?
Lots of students think of math as something they need to get out of the way, but I’d love for people to look at it differently. Math lets you explore places where no one has been before—with only a pencil and paper, you can discover amazing things and never leave your desk. You just need to know where to look.
I’ve had some incredible opportunities at MacEwan—I’ve helped students, worked as a research assistant and even have my name on an academic paper. I’m taking a break, but I’ll apply to graduate school in the fall, either in mathematics or computer science. I love helping people understand things, so who knows? Maybe I’ll find myself at the front of a classroom one day.
I had my daughter when I was 18. It changed my life and made me realize that I needed to do something better for myself. I never planned to go to university, so I feel like graduating—especially as a single parent—is a huge achievement in and of itself.
I originally thought I wanted to go into social work, but I took one psychology course and I was hooked. I’m fascinated by forensic psychology, and I have this morbid curiosity about the darker side of the things people do. Psychopathy is interesting because its characteristics are extreme, but they’re also things that we all share to a lesser degree—things like impulsivity and irresponsibility.
My honours thesis looked at psychopathy and risky behaviour. It was a long and complex study with several findings—I don’t think I could even guess how many hours I’ve spent on it—but I felt really lucky to be able to work on something I’m so passionate about.
I feel like I’ve grown so much in the last five years—and so has my daughter. She’s seven years old now, and will be watching me cross the stage at convocation.
Bachelor of Science, Physical Sciences
I’m from Inuvik, a really small, tightly knit community in the Northwest Territories near the Arctic Ocean, and I’m so excited that all of my family is going to be at my convocation ceremony.
My first semester at MacEwan was in the winter, so I went from 24-hour darkness into the daylight. The transition was tough—leaving my family behind and coming to such a big place—but my mom was so supportive and really pushed me to come. There’s a real community feel at MacEwan, and that helped too.
I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school, so I knew exactly what I wanted to study in university. For me, chemistry isn’t just about formulas and working in the lab—it’s also about making a difference in people’s lives. That’s why I want to go on and study pharmacy.
My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when I was 13, and I’ve seen firsthand how important pharmacists are in small communities. The care they provide and the work they do to help people stay healthy or get better is really inspiring. Pharmacy is a whole other degree—another four years of university, but I’d love to be able to do it.
Whatever I end up doing, I eventually want to go back to the Northwest Territories. There are a lot of opportunities here, but I know I’ll be able to make a bigger difference there.
Bachelor of Arts, English Honours
I’m a massage therapist turned writer. I came to MacEwan for a second time in 2012 after finishing the Massage Therapy program and working for a year. I thought I would get a Bachelor of Science and go into physiotherapy, but at the end of my first year I took the Introduction to Literature course and that changed everything. Midway through my second year, I was an English major and had decided to do the honours program.
I’m a bit of a science fiction nerd and I’m really interested in the post-modernist period, so I looked at how both grapple with spirituality and religion. They seem to ostensibly tear down anything that could be considered God or spiritual, but doing that actually leaves space for the possibility of a future absolute that we can’t recognize because it transcends human understanding and comprehension.
I’m proud of that work, but I think what I’m most proud of is more abstract than a single project or moment—having found something I’m passionate about and seeing how far my writing has come creatively and academically since my first year.
In the massage program, I was such a terrible writer that I failed a course because I didn’t use proper citations and had to retake the class on Saturdays for an entire semester. It was awful, but it’s amazing to think how much more effortless writing seems now. And that next year I’ll be at the University of Victoria studying for my Master’s in English Literature.
Philosophy is a mystery to most people. I’m always having to explain what I’m going to do with my degree because people seem to think you should have a set career path—this degree should lead to that job. Even I was panicking for a little while, until I realized that employers want people who can make decisions, work independently, think quickly and write well. Those are some of the things I’m taking with me.
I’ve been working in marketing for a while now, and I love that I’m able to draw on skills and experiences from my degree. You have to be very clear in what you say, communicate clearly and efficiently, and work on a timeline—or many timelines.
Philosophy is almost a way of life for me now. It teaches you how to live in and engage with the people and the world around you—and it makes you appreciate things in a different way.
I used to be very shy and always answered every question with the shortest answer possible. Philosophy made me more comfortable speaking about anything, whether it’s personal, academic or intellectual. But it wasn’t just philosophy as a discipline that helped me become more confident—it was the community within the department, especially the professors and other students. There was always opportunity to have discussion, both within and outside of classes.
It also allowed me to be okay with making mistakes. It’s okay if you don’t know everything—nobody can.
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science Honours
Getting into the political science honours program was pretty much the best day of my life, so far. My honours thesis looked at gold mining companies and ended up being 17,000 words—more than I’ve ever written.
I got three offers for grad school, and I’m going to the University of Waterloo on a full scholarship. Making sure I was prepared for that meant I needed to get comfortable with speaking up. I had always done the readings, but I was super shy and never raised my hand in class—when I did have to speak I turned bright red and it was really embarrassing.
In my third year, I started getting more involved. I was in the United Nations Club and travelled to New York twice. It was a great opportunity to step out of my shell, interact with new people and come up with resolutions to current problems.
In my last year at MacEwan, I started putting myself out there more and getting more involved in class discussions. It was good practice for grad school where all the classes are seminars, and stepping out of my comfort zone made me feel like I was learning even more.
Bachelor of Arts, History
I’ve never really understood why people say history is boring—so much of it is essentially storytelling. Most people seem more than happy to listen to what an acquaintance was up to on the weekend, but less interested in hearing about the often incredible stories that have shaped our world and perspectives.
History is something I’ve always liked, but getting a degree in it was pretty complicated for me. In my first attempt at university, my grades for the year were a scattershot of As and Fs. I took some time away from university, during which I developed some much needed perspective and self-knowledge, before eventually returning to study at MacEwan.
I knew I needed to get good grades so I could keep as many doors open as possible. This time, my grades were a lot different—I also gained a lot of self-confidence and met some very interesting and committed people and professors. In the fall, I’m going to law school at the University of Victoria. I’ve lived in Alberta all of my life, so I’m looking forward to studying law and living by the ocean.
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Honours President's Medal for Academic Excellence and Student Leadership
Research is something I would do for free—I love it that much—but it if you told me that in my first year, I would not have believed you.
Over the past year, many amazing things have happened—presenting my research at national conferences and at Student Research Week, being a teaching assistant, doing a clinical placement at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, and helping my peers in the Department of Psychology as a research assistant. Yet, despite these accomplishments, the moment I am most proud of was being accepted to the Honours Psychology program. At that time, I seriously doubted my ability to complete the program; now that I’m finished, I realize I had it in me all along.
During my degree at MacEwan, I have discovered my passion for the pursuit of knowledge. I love being able to give back to my peers as a research and teaching assistant—removing barriers and burdens where possible, especially in areas where I had struggled myself, brought me great joy.
I was provided an opportunity to give an 80-minute lecture on positive psychology to introductory psychology students. That experience completely changed the trajectory of my life, leading me to realize my passion for teaching. I hope to one day obtain my PhD in Experimental Social Psychology and try to give back some of what has been given to me during my time at MacEwan.
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science Honours
How did I decide to study political science? It’s actually kind of a funny story. I had a diploma in information technology and had been working in the field for a few years, but I didn’t feel challenged enough. I thought I might want to work for CSIS, but I knew I needed a degree for that and I thought political science was interesting and relevant, so I went from there.
On the first day of my very first political science class, the prof said that a lot of poli-sci students want to go into law. I hadn’t even realized that was an option, so I left the class and looked up what it took to go to law school. Basically it was really good grades and a good LSAT mark, so I knew I was going to spend the next few years working hard. I did, and I’m going to law school at the University of Alberta this fall.
My honours thesis looked at the political learnings of Canadian Supreme Court justices and attempted to validate whether those leanings showed in their actual judgments. I’m fascinated by the minutiae in bills and legislation, and the idea that so many different interpretations can come from a static text—every single word matters.
Bachelor of Arts, Economics
I’m a big film nerd, so I was really happy that I was able to blend that interest with my final independent research project in Economics looking at the provincial grant for film production. It was a good lesson that you don’t always have to sacrifice one interest to study another.
That inspired me, and it also affected the jobs I want to apply for. I just wrote the LSAT and definitely want to go on to grad school, but I want to work for a couple of years and see if I can succeed in a different environment before going back to university.
I’m happy with my academic performance throughout my degree, but at the end of it all I think I’m happiest with the network of people I’ve built—the friends, peers and profs that I’ve learned from and will continue to keep in touch with.
Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences
A lot of times, people think that the sciences are mostly memorization, but my science degree gave me much more than that. It taught me how to think, how to learn, to be critical and to take the knowledge I have and extrapolate it to new subjects. Now when I’m facing a new problem, I just apply my understanding of problem solving instead of trying to apply something I’ve memorized.
I’ve been an ambassador, been involved in research and done so many different things at MacEwan.
I never expected to go to Washington, D.C. My wife once said to me that she would love to go because she grew up in Washington State and always wanted to visit the capital. So when I saw a poster on the wall for an internship at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., I applied for it. I was the only undergrad working among graduate and doctoral students, and spent my internship working in an animal genetics lab at the National Zoo.
I realized I could have had the same opportunity at another university, but I think the work I did at MacEwan and the relationships I’ve made here are what actually what allowed me to end up going.
MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the more than 2,200 members of the Class of 2016. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.
Watch this very special message from the Faculty of Arts and Science:
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.