In celebration of the University of Lethbridge’s 50th anniversary, the Faculty of Arts & Science offered a total of $50,000 in awards to first-year university students (new high school graduates). There were five awards, worth $10,000 each, given to qualifying students enrolled in a four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts & Science (BASc) program. The students were selected based on high school academic performance, financial need and uniqueness of personal circumstances. We caught up with all five students to see how their first semester has been, and how they have settled into university life.
Kathleen Gonzales (biological sciences) emigrated to Canada from the Philippines with her brother and father in 2007, and is working hard to become a role model for others who are overcoming hardships. She joined the Global Citizenship Cohort (GCC) and is thankful for the social environment and the community outreach opportunities. Next year, Gonzales and a group of cohort students are planning to organize a community fundraiser for Lethbridge’s Youth Crisis Centre.
“This semester, I have grown as a person and have opened my mind to the world around me. Despite having a major in biology, I have been learning about social issues occurring globally and locally and how they may impact society; analyzing how such issues could have resulted, and what factors should be considered when attempting to create a solution. Winning this award has motivated me to do my best and persevere through the tough times of transitioning from high school, while supporting my wish to create a difference in the world,” explains Gonzales.
Alexis Kelly (English & psychology) is also part of the GCC, and has settled into campus life as a UHall resident and co-founder of the Freedom Writers Poetry Club. She has embraced several opportunities to get involved with the campus community such as volunteering at Career Fair and finding employment at the university library. Though she is uncertain where her degree will take her, Kelly is taking advantage of exploring areas beyond her major.
“I've always been the kind of person interested in lots of things as opposed to just one, and being able to explore more options for my major without falling behind in the one I am currently working on is a lovely opportunity,” she says. “If you're unsure of what you want to do it's a great institution because you can use courses towards your liberal education requirement. The professors love what they do, and they are open to helping students.”
For Makayla Lubbers (general social sciences), receiving the award was a sign of inspiration and encouragement, helping her to discover what she was supposed to do and where she was supposed to be. After graduating from high school, she spent the summer volunteering at an orphanage in Thailand where she says her life changed direction. Although she is an artist at heart, experiencing the struggles of impoverished children in a third-world country inspired her to pursue a degree in social sciences.
“I want to do something that will make a difference in the world. The U of L's extensive social science classes and the co-op program will help me develop the skills and gain the experience I need to make that happen,” she says.
So far, Lubbers is enjoying her time on campus, participating in several clubs as well as the Co-operative Education program.
Walker English (kinesiology) chose the U of L because of its close location to his home in Fort Macleod, and has settled into campus life well despite the struggle of moving away from home for the first time. In high school, he was a role model to young FNMI students and excelled at learning Blackfoot, which helped him connect with his culture through language. On campus, he is a part of the FNMI club, and appreciates the strong sense of community at the U of L.
“I plan to become a physiotherapist with my degree but that may change as time goes on. My U of L education will help me open more doors and opportunities so that I can become a successful individual in the future,” says English.
Lesleigh Siemens (psychology) is the first in her family in three generations to attend university. She was inspired by personal experiences to become a lawyer, and plans to go to law school after completing her undergraduate degree in psychology. A major challenge for Siemens has been navigating her post-secondary education without the advice or guidance from family members, since they never attended university. However, she has had some great experiences on campus and shares her advice for future students.
“My advice would be to look at the planner provided and make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare! It's a much different experience than high school, so make sure to take all the help and tools provided, and use them,” she says. “The U of L has a lot of people willing to help if you don't quite understand what courses to take, where to start with applying, etc. As long as you're willing to ask for help, the experience can become a lot less stressful.”
Dr. Jackie Rice (associate dean, Faculty of Arts & Science) acknowledges that the U of L came into existence because of strong community support.
“We wanted to recognize the University of Lethbridge’s first 50 years by contributing back to students who represent the diversity and strength in our community,” she says. “Students like these, from diverse backgrounds and with unique experiences, are our future, and we want to encourage them to build their knowledge and experience. These are the people who will give back to their community; we see that in the backgrounds and motivations that they bring to us. The liberal education philosophy that we offer provides a broad perspective and critical thinking skills, along with depth of knowledge in a specific area, and this is what the leaders of tomorrow will need. I like to think of the UL50 Golden Jubilee Awards as our investment in the future and in the next 50 years of the University of Lethbridge, as we educate tomorrow’s leaders.”
There are many valuable opportunities for students to seek advice or assistance at any point in their university career. For more information on all of the services available, click here.