Science and Tech at VIU

Tassel time

Author: Caileigh Broatch with The Nav VIU Student Press

Q&A with graduating VIU students

We’re at the end of another semester. For some, this means escaping into the summer months before returning in the fall, for others it means sun-filled days spent indoors … still on campus. But for close to 500 students, that the day is soon approaching when they will file down the aisle, with tassels bouncing, towards the convocation stage. Brimming with smiles, tears and memories of long days and longer nights.

There will be speeches by valedictorians and program chairs. Audiences filled with parents who still remember the first day of Kindergarten (and inevitably remark on how it feels like it was just “yesterday”). The promise of new chapters and new beginnings.

This commencement season, The Nav would like to highlight a few of VIU’s amazing graduates. These six students are only a handful of the hundreds who have put countless hours into their degrees, who have volunteered, researched and hosted clubs and events, who, once upon a time, attended their first ever Rock VIU. We are proud of every one and hope you enjoy reading more about these students who helped shape our university.

 

Sabrina Wong

Anthropology

Chair of the Anthropology Student Club

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

I definitely thrive in smaller classes and enjoyed getting to know my professors. Speaking with friends that attend larger schools, I realized quickly that they don’t get the one-on-one education that I have received over the last four years.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

My favourite spot on campus is the picnic table outside of Building 356 near the gardens. Whenever the weather is nice, there is no place I would rather be on campus.

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

My favourite classes to take were social anthropology and biological anthropology classes. It is hard to pick a favourite. My absolute favourite classes were during my field school in Macedonia. Being allowed to be fully immersed in a place you are learning about makes it so much better. Real hands-on experience is how I learn best and being there and talking to the people was an incredible experience.

 

What classes should one stay away from?

Stay away from any classes that don’t interest you. Getting stuck in a class that you don’t like is not going to aid you in your studies. It can be difficult when certain classes are required, but there are so many options. Look at directed studies, field schools, and talk to the chair of your department to see if you can get classes to cover the required ones.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

Coming straight from high school into university, I have not experienced what it is like [to] not be in school. I am considering taking a year off and applying to graduate school. There are so many options after graduating from anthropology [that] it will be very difficult to choose what discipline.

 

Alasdair Robertson 

Digital Media/Creative Writing and Journalism student

VIU awards scholarships for academic excellence, Inaugural speaker in the Portfolio Reading Series

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

VIU was a fantastic place to learn. I had some wonderful teachers and fellow students. I was blessed and inspired to be surrounded by such talent. As a mature student, I was delighted to discover that I was free to be as immature as the rest of them.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

I like the pub for unwinding. The armchair by the big window on the top floor of the library for study. And, the little wooden cabin at the top of the stairs, and the natural history museum outside of it that opens two hours a week, sometimes. (They feel like secret destinations for a privileged few.)

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

I love classes where I get the freedom to create, [and] lectures that inspire original thought, but mostly I prefer easy classes that give me good grades.

 

What classes should one stay away from?

Hard classes that have lots of exams or classes that involve being involved in group work with a group that are disinterested, elusive and a logistical nightmare to coordinate with.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

I hope to find a job in the local workplace that involves utilizing my degree, and makes me excited to go to work. I also wish to maintain some of the relationships I have formed at VIU… and finish some of the projects I have begun. Publishing my first novel would be a dream come true.

 

Peggy Hillyer

Bachelor of Science in Nursing student

Valedictorian of the pinning ceremony for the BSN program

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

Having a local university was part of my decision to go back to school. I am an older student and have kids, a husband and have roots here. If I’d have had to move, I would not have been able to gain my degree in nursing. I am very grateful to VIU.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

I spent most of my university life and classes in Building 180. When the new Building 210 opened I was kind of sad and nostalgic. Don’t get me wrong, Building 210 is nice. So, every now and then my friends and I would go back to the comfort of familiarity and study in our little room on the third floor of Building 180.

I would often go up the hill and check out the koi pond. It is nice and relaxing in that small space of nature. During stressful weeks and exams, the little moment of silence and break of nature in that spot is amazing.

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

My favourite classes were the hands-on lab classes that nurses take. The lab room is set up kind of like a hospital and we would practice skills with the mannequins. We had a lot of fun and laughing in that class.

 

What classes should one stay away from?

As a student in the nursing program, everything was well laid out for me. I had to take what was required so I don’t know what to avoid. I would, however, offer advice to people entering the BSN program; if possible, get your A&P and English out of the way before starting the program. You will thank yourself later.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

Onto Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. I was offered a job there and am excited to start my career so soon after graduating. I hope to move on in my education in the next five years to become a nurse practitioner.

 

Emma Burnard 

Tourism Management student

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

I transferred to VIU from another school in Alberta and enjoyed my experience at VIU way more than the other school I attended. I feel like I learned more from the VIU program and enjoyed my cohort, professors and courses more.

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

Law for Tourism Managers – I love law, issues and trends in professional practice, as you get to talk about topics that actually interest the class, and financial management in tourism (purely because Laurie Dean is the best prof for financial management courses.)

 

What classes should one stay away from?

Economics… I only had to take it because it was required in the old program, apparently; in the new Tourism Management program it is no longer required, but you can take it as an elective. 10/10 do not recommend.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

I am heading down to the state of Montana in America to work for the Government of Alberta at the Travel Alberta Visitor Centre in West Glacier as the site supervisor.

 

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Take at least one random elective that is fun and interesting to you. This definitely helps when you have a semester of classes you have to take but may not be the most interesting or fun. It will give you something to look forward to.

 

Megan Wolfe 

Creative Writing and Journalism/English student

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

VIU was more so pivotal in my education. I came here from the flat lands (a.k.a, Alberta) not really knowing where Nanaimo was, but I had a few friends who had been students here/lived in Nanaimo, so I decided to shoot my shot and go for it. I’m so thankful that I did. I have a different career path leaving than I did when I came in, I’ve grown so much over these last few years; in my faith, as a person, as well as my understanding of the world, and it started with the people that I met on campus.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

My favourite spot is the HUB, the space just below The View Gallery. I’m there pretty much every day. It’s a great space where you can hang out with your friends, but also get some work done too. Plus, the view isn’t half bad either.

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

My favourite classes were the ones where I got to incorporate some of the things I’m hella nerdy about into what I was studying. Throughout my degree, I did three papers on Harry Potter and even got to take a Firefly course. Also, anything with Susan Juby. I love the way that she challenges her students to grow and improve while also highlighting their strengths. Those classes really helped me shape my writing and figure out what style suits me best.

 

What classes should one stay away from?

Honestly, I took a Marie Kondo approach to my classes. If the subject didn’t spark joy, I didn’t take it. I avoided taking classes that jeopardized my mental health because there isn’t anything that’s worth doing that. I’ve always been able to find another course that was better suited to me to fulfill a requirement.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

Oh man, if this isn’t a question I ask myself daily. Yikes. For me, I’m taking a break from school, kind of. I’m taking an online course from the University of British Columbia in October because, well, why not? It’s also to get some time to save for my master’s degree. I’m not sure which one I’m going for first. I’m looking at either a Master in Creative Writing from somewhere in the UK, or a Master in Linguistics, but I’m definitely going for both of them.

 

Braedan Zimmer 

Liberal Studies student

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

I leave VIU a much more reflective person than when I first arrived. This has been due largely to the Liberal Studies program. It’s a place to examine ideas and challenge them. When encountering an argument they disagree with, a student of the LBST program is tasked with constructing the most generous interpretation they can generate. Conversely, when they find themselves naturally agreeing with a certain thinker’s argument, they are tasked with constructing the strongest possible counter-argument to test the validity of their beliefs.

I have nearly no criticism of VIU. Many of the professors I encountered were awesome – their efforts extremely conducive to quality thought – and their class content was well-curated. If I had to make a criticism of my experience it would be that a staggering proportion (a majority, even) of my fellow students lacked a passion for learning. Wake up, people. Your degree isn’t just a piece of paper. Higher education is an incredible opportunity and it is a grave mistake to take it for granted. Do the readings.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

For eating (on a nice day), I like the upstairs balcony of the main cafeteria. Take the stairs by the main row of vending machines and hang a left when you reach the top. Enjoy the view.

For studying, I prefer the top floor of the library. There’s a rarely used silent study as well as a lightly used computer lab.

My favourite bathroom is located underneath the indoor stairs that lead from the bookstore to the library. There’s a hall in which one can find very lightly used, and rarely occupied, set of bathrooms.

 

What classes should one stay away from?

I’m hesitant to be prescriptive in that way. However, I will give some advice on the subject. Don’t indiscriminately trust your friends when they tell you to avoid certain classes, or professors for that matter, unless they give explicit reasons for their opinions: unjust treatment of students, for example, or passionless lectures. Try different kinds of classes in different programs and find what you like. Not what is the least work – what you like. Be honest with yourself about that. There’s nothing better than putting in a load of work for a class that you find rewarding.

 

After graduation, what’s next?

I’m going to attempt to hold on to the positive influences I was exposed to during my time at VIU, and I’m also going to try to avoid falling in with peer groups that don’t share my values. I’ve noticed that few things are more detrimental to developing the kind of character I desire than surrounding myself with people who want something from life that dramatically opposes what I want.

 

Evan Madge

Biology student

 

Was VIU beneficial to your education?

I think what VIU provided was essential for my success. I picked up a lot of bad habits in high school and was able to shed them after first year without too much pain. Physically at least –the GPA still remembers, unfortunately.

 

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

Wherever my friends are. I am a social studier, sometimes to my own detriment. With that, my favourite place is the library. It is so easy to make friends. If you have sat at a table with someone once and made eye contact, you guys are friends now. Feel free to share your innermost demons with them. They got you. Actually, it might be Stockholm syndrome, since I’ve spent the majority of the last four years there.

 

What classes were your favourite to take?

The ones that hurt me the most. Some of my fondest memories at VIU include yelling information at my friends in the middle of the night until we understood what the hell was going on. I mean, I still don’t, but at least I know what I don’t know. I definitely get some satisfaction thinking back about the hardest classes I took. Remembering those highs after everything clicked, followed by feeling like a genius. The soul-crushing moment when you find out you were completely wrong. You definitely grow from the perseverance. Wait, this one might be Stockholm syndrome too.

After graduation, what’s next?

Applying to medical schools until I accept that I am not good enough. God, I hope UBC lets me in. Until I come to that realization, I’ll be doing some EMT courses and (hopefully) the paramedic program with one of my best friends. Special thanks to Erin McDonagh for giving me a place to stay.  

*reprinted with permission from The Nav VIU Student Press

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