Meet the Class: Faculty of Arts and Science

July 13, 2021 | Science, Society, Arts & Culture

From genetics and social justice to psychology, law and education, the paths our Faculty of Arts and Science grads are on are sure to lead them to some interesting places. We can’t wait to see where they’ll go.

Zena Dakour, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology/English


My biggest challenge? Commas. I could not figure out how to use my commas properly. But learning to write better essays has helped me to be able to communicate better in all aspects of my life.

I feel like I have been talking in rambly, rushed, information-packed sentences my whole life because I was worried about wasting people’s time. My writing, with its abundance of comma splices, was the same. Learning to slow down and clearly explain my reasoning in my writing has influenced my social skills as well. The anxiety can still weigh me down, but I am not afraid to use a period once in a while to end a sentence. You can always pick up where you left off after the break and drive the point home.

I have always been interested in stories, the details and motivation that lead to an event. I think that contributed to my attraction to both English and psychology. The main difference between the two is temporal displacement. In English, we wonder at and analyze the author's life from the thoughts they share publicly through their works. In psychology, the focus of our attention is on the person before us in the moment. That is not to say that the two subjects are parallel; in fact, that is where the similarities stop. But I see people laughing or struggling in small everyday ways, and I wonder why they feel the way they do.

I plan to continue my education in psychology through grad school, but first I will volunteer or work in the field in any capacity I can manage to find. Eventually, I think I will specialize in working with at-risk children and youth, a group of people in our society with so much to gain from the extra care and support.

Jolie Hamel, Bachelor of Science, Honours Biological Sciences

Dean’s Medal Recipient


 For the longest time, I wanted to go into aerospace engineering. I loved planes and understanding how they worked. Then I hit Grade 10 science, and learned that I was terrible at physics. But later that year, I was introduced to the basics of genetics and to bacteria, and I was hooked.

I knew I was interested in research, so getting into the honours program was a big moment for me. Next, I’ll be starting my master's degree in biochemistry at the University of Toronto. I hope to build a career in research, focusing on studying the CRISPR-Cas system in bacteria in particular. I first learned about CRISPR (which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) in my second year at MacEwan. It’s a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of organisms like bacteria that act as an adaptive immune system against viruses – something previously only thought to exist in mammals.

I'm mostly interested in understanding the basic science of how CRISPR-Cas works, which has applications in gene editing to treat genetic disorders. 

Amanda Jelley, Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology


I had always felt out of place in school and never intended on getting a university degree. After high school, I promised my parents I would try a year of university but was sure it would just confirm that education wasn't for me. But I stumbled upon anthropology and criminology in my first year and, to my shock, fell in love with social sciences. For the first time, I had found something that I was passionate about – trying to end gendered violence. Like many other people, I have been affected by violence and it has made me determined to try to prevent it and support others who are affected by it in any way that I can.

Even though I was enjoying my classes, I felt disconnected from the university community until I took a leap and joined a campus volunteer group. I was incredibly nervous for my first day of training with the MAVEN peer education team. I didn’t know anyone, but as the training went on, I slowly realized that I’d found my people – people across faculties and with different life experiences who shared my passions, had similar goals, and accepted and supported me.

Thinking back on all of the memories, experiences and opportunities that this group has given me, I can't imagine how I would have achieved most of what I have in the past few years without it. Being part of MAVEN allowed me to funnel the passion I had for the topics I was learning about in my classes into real-world actions, and made me feel less like someone passing through the university and more like someone who was actively shaping it.

Sunpreet Johal, Bachelor of Science, Psychology


I got to lead many student-focused events during Black History Month, EDI Week and World Human Rights Day as a senior volunteer with C.O.D.E. (Champions of Diversity and Equity), but the one that stands out most for me was Turban, Eh!, a turban understanding and awareness event we hosted in 2019.

It was great to see students and faculty members participating in the event and getting a Turban tie by one of our volunteers. Sharing my Sikh culture with my fellow MacEwan students and faculty members, and educating the MacEwan community on what the turban is and its significance allowed me to take one step further toward my goal of making MacEwan a more inclusive and diverse space for everyone, with a culture free from discrimination.

Tadiwa Nemutambwe, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology


Ever since I was young, I wanted to do something that would enable me to help others. I have always been fascinated by the brain, human behaviour and why people do what we do. I was originally going to pursue a degree in business, but after taking a few psychology courses, I knew this was my path. I had never said it out loud, but once I was in my third year, I knew that I was on my way to one day becoming a counselling psychologist.

It took me a while to realize just how many opportunities come about through being at university. I didn’t really tune in during my first few years, so I missed out on a few things, but it wasn’t too late. I got the opportunity to become a teaching assistant, to join the Peer Health Education Team, to take more interesting psychology classes and even make it onto the Dean’s List.

My experience at MacEwan opened my eyes to wonderful opportunities and helped me realize that it’s never too late to do more for yourself and your community. Right now, I’m getting everything ready to apply to grad schools for a master of counselling program. I am also working full-time and learning how to achieve a work-life balance, preparing for grad school and continuing to volunteer – all while taking the time for self-care and many walks in the river valley.

Maryam Saeed, Bachelor of Science, Mathematical Sciences


As the eldest child in my family, I wasn’t sure what university life would be like. I started as a business student, but when I took my first statistics and mathematics course, I wanted to play more with numbers. I decided to take a mathematical science major and a business studies minor. But I never wanted to limit myself and wanted to explore as many courses as I could, so I studied statistics, mathematics, physics, accounting, finance, economics, computer science and philosophy.

In my third year, we faced a financial crisis in the family, so I took on any job opportunity I could to fill the gap. I wanted to quit school so many times, but what pushed me was my family. My mom and dad have provided us with everything, so I had to make them proud. I also wanted to be the best example for my siblings. I took that challenge and completed my degree while working four part-time jobs as a full-time student. I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my professors. They were always there for me throughout my degree, and I am very thankful to all of them.

Now I am preparing for actuarial exams, and hope to soon be working as an actuary. My simple advice for the students starting their journey at MacEwan University is don’t ever doubt yourself, because you don’t know what you are capable of.

Amy St. Amand, Bachelor of Arts, Honours English


Honestly, just graduating is a huge accomplishment for me. I took eight years off after high school and had a career in retail management. I knew that I wanted to go to university, but I never found the right program or time. In 2014, I was forced to go on long-term disability after I developed chronic pain as a complication to my disease, Takayasu’s Arteritis. I spent a year and a half on disability, not knowing if I’d ever be able to work again. After so much uncertainty, I made the decision to go back to school. I had no idea if I could even make it through a semester. But not only did I finish this degree, I got great grades, I was the president of a club, I made connections that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I’ve had a lot of challenges navigating post-secondary as someone with an invisible disability, but I am so proud of what I have accomplished.

People told me I’d make a great teacher, but I never gave it much thought — I assumed it would be boring and repetitive. But eventually, I came around to the idea of encouraging people to love literature and analysis the way my English teachers did when I was in school. I originally wanted to teach high school, but in the first year of university, I discovered that I belonged in academia. I’ve never felt so at home. I start the Master’s in English program at the University of Calgary in the fall and my goal is to be an English professor. I’ve still got a lot of school ahead of me, but one day I want to inspire the “English kids” of the future to love analyzing and writing as much as I do.

Alim Tharani, Bachelor of Arts, Criminology


After realizing that my minor in psychology wasn't for me, I was at a complete loss for what to do next. I spent countless hours planning, researching and stressing out before I found business law. When I woke up one morning and read the email confirming I was accepted into that minor, my life at MacEwan drastically changed. I have a newfound confidence in myself and my abilities – not only as a student, but as a member of the MacEwan community. Taking the time to sit down and figure out my true passions was a moment I am grateful for.

During my time at MacEwan, I published academic articles, worked at the Office of the University Registrar and even facilitated and hosted a virtual summit to address racism in hockey. Now, I will be pursuing my law degree in the United Kingdom. I want to work in a field where I can make a difference in people's lives, reinforce equal rights, environmental sustainability and international trade while also providing communities in need with a platform for their voices to be heard.



Meet the Class: Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications

Congratulations to these creators, thinkers, innovators, hard workers, music makers and entrepreneurs.

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