Why You Should Choose the University of Alberta: Immense Opportunities & a Community of Awe-Inspiring People
I’ve been extremely lucky to have the support of incredible instructors, lab members and classmates, who’ve made my undergraduate at the University of Alberta a wonderful adventure of learning and self-discovery.
There are incredible professors at the UofA who excel in teaching and genuinely care for their students’ well-being. There have been occasions when my friends and I show up to a professor’s office a few days before the midterm, with notes haphazardly pasted with a colorful array of sticky notes, each one indicating a question. Although some of our questions would be beyond the scope of the course, the prof would be extremely patient and clarify all of our questions, sometimes for nearly an hour.
This approachability can bring about fantastic opportunities. When searching for a supervisor for my literature review course, I was starstruck when a prominent clinician-scientist agreed to take me on. Just the thought of one-on-one learning about Parkinson’s Disease from an expert who’s authored over 200 papers on movement disorders and sits on a Nature publication editorial board – OH MY GOSH!!!
The Lab Members
Beyond the classroom, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a phenomenal lab brimming with mentors. At first, I thought I was only learning about the scientific process- from the neurophysiology background, to designing and running experiments to presenting information clearly and manuscript writing. My supervisor, the lab technician and the graduate students have been so patient with explaining concepts, answering my never-ending questions, helping out with experiments, and rescuing the ones that didn’t run smoothly.
At some point though, I realized that research is a microcosm for life. Experiments will fail; so, research, just as pursuing any goal in life, is a matter of resilience. You dust yourself off, trouble-shoot, learn from your mistakes and next time, you do better.
My supervisor has always encouraged me to seize opportunities for learning and growth. As a result, two years ago, I found myself doing an oral presentation to motor control experts at a conference in Jasper, and later that night, learning to chop wood. (This city girl has never come close to an axe before!) With the lab’s guidance, I’ve had opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined, such as co-authoring a paper and being selected as one of ten finalists from across Canada for the Sunnybrook Research Prize. These wonderfully supportive people at the Human Neurophysiology Lab have helped shape my career aspirations, nurtured my curiosity, and stoked a desire for lifelong learning and self-improvement.
There’s such a welcoming community of students here- the summer before university began, incredibly friendly students showed me around campus, helped me find my classes and showed me pedways (No freezing in -40!). Furthermore, they went through my schedule and gave me tips about scheduling labs, and which general courses to consider taking. With this guidance, my adjustment to university was smooth. As my undergrad progressed, senior students have always shared advice on which interesting electives to take, which courses to avoid; tidbits which have resulted in me learning about the ethics of organ donation in a philosophy class, and being captivated throughout a TED talk-like course on the future of technology and medicine.
Within my classes, I’ve met wonderful people who make breakneck cramming fun. Amidst the nerdy jokes and the ridiculous pneumonics to memorize obscure pieces of information, a heartwarming camaraderie has developed. We got each other’s backs, whether it’s answering each other’s questions the night before an exam, plotting elaborate surprises, or bringing each other gingerbread cookies, chocolates and other sweets to get through finals.
I’m lucky to have such inspirational peers at the UofA. Some of them have admirable time management skills (What do you mean you have time to bake a lemon loaf, go kick-boxing, teach piano, Netflix binge on Breaking Bad and still be ready to ace that exam?). Others are so well-travelled and offer unique, and often hilarious, perspectives that just dissolve your problems.
What really takes my breath away, though, is the impact that UofA students are making within the community. There are countless examples- UofA Compliments, a group that promotes mental wellness and has brightened the days of thousands of students; Speaking through Generations, a fledgling initiative that teaches seniors a new language for free; TeamUp Science, a group that promotes STEM and organizes a weekend-long science competition for high school students; the Icare Initiative, an organization that advocates for eye health and conducts eye screenings in inner city schools; the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation Initiative, a group that promotes digestive health awareness and empowers students to make better health choices. These are just a few of the many groups on campus that support worthy causes!
Being surrounded by all of these great initiatives is empowering; I’ve realized that big dreams and possibilities to make the community brighter are within reach. I’ve taken an enormous step towards becoming the best version of myself at the University of Alberta .
As the end of my undergraduate approaches, I’m grateful to all the amazing people at the UofA for the laughs we’ve shared, the encouragement especially after disappointments, the lessons you’ve taught me and most of all, your inspiring example. Thank you <3