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Honouring the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6 memorial
A permanent memorial installation in Beamish-Munro Hall, designed by Haley Adams, features a white rose petal for each of the 14 victims of the Dec. 6 massacre. (University Communications)

Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, is a day to remember not only the horrors that occurred at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, but the violence and inequities that continue today.

On that day, Canadians pause to reflect on the murder of 14 women, the majority being engineering students. It is day to remember the victims and think about the effects that gender-based violence has had – and continues to have – on our society.

Each year, the Queen’s community, led by the Engineering Society and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science commemorates this day by hosting a memorial ceremony and other events that highlight the importance of opening doors, and keeping them open, for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and beyond.

“We need to remember the terrible events of December 6. It is especially important for the engineering community to reflect on that loss, and to strengthen our resolve to welcome more women into the profession and encourage and support them throughout their careers,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “As a society we still have much work to do in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion, so this is a meaningful day for everyone at Queen’s. I encourage people from across the university to join us in reflecting on this day’s significance.”

During the memorial ceremony, being held Monday, Dec. 6, 1-2 p.m. at the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall, 14 current Queen’s Engineering students hold a rose and light a candle while they introduce each of the 14 women and express their views on why it is important to remember them. It is a powerful, solemn time of remembrance.

This year’s event will also be livestreamed.

In 2020, a permanent memorial installation was unveiled after Dean Deluzio and the Engineering Society sent out a call for designs a year earlier to mark the 30th anniversary of the killings.

The design chosen was created by Haley Adams, a civil engineering student. The centrepiece of the memorial is a white rose, which is surrounded by fourteen petals, symbolizing each of the women who lost their lives that day.

“The petals drift along the wall, representing the idea that although we move forward, their memories are with us,” Adams explained as the memorial was unveiled. “It is my hope that this memorial can act as a gentle reminder to this generation of engineers that diversity in the profession is our strength. Only when the engineering community reflects the society we serve can we best design for the needs of our communities.”

Application period now open for Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowships

Partnership between Mastercard Foundation and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) empowers thousands of African students to start or continue scalable businesses.

Eniafe Enianu
Through the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students program, Eniafe Enianu received support in starting up Wako Farming, which aims to help vulnerable and poor farmers in Africa by providing the needed resources to promote their business and living standard.

The Mastercard Foundation and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) have announced a partnership offering free virtual entrepreneurship training, and an opportunity to receive startup funding to more than 1,000 students through the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students at Queen’s University.

The program launched in September 2020. It provides students and recent graduates from African universities within the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program with the opportunity to apply to a free virtual entrepreneurship training program delivered by Queen’s University’s DDQIC Program. Through this program, award-winning faculty and some of the best innovators, policymakers, and business strategists collaborate to support students to become Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellows. During the 2020-2021 Academic year, 1,252 students participated, and more than 60 percent of the cohort were women, recognizing the additional barriers women face when starting a business or seeking employment in Africa.

“The launch of the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students last year was a proud moment,” says Jim Leech. “Seeing bright African students take advantage of this entrepreneurial training to initiate, strengthen, and bring their business goals to life is exciting and augurs well for Africa’s future. I look forward to seeing the new waves of talent come in with this year's applicants.”

Prospective fellows receive access to a curated list of online entrepreneurship courses developed at DDQIC and work through the Disciplined Entrepreneurship Framework developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The fellowship is designed to address unemployment among post-secondary graduates by equipping thousands of students and recent graduates with sufficient entrepreneurial training to initiate and continue to grow their businesses.

Titose Chembezi of the University of Cape Town was a $5,000 winner at the DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition and said the pitch experience provided her with a boost of confidence.

“It was the first time my team and I got to compete with ventures from Canada and won a prize. It taught me to move past the stigma that startups from the African continent may not be competent enough compared to the West and it also gave me the courage to see the world as my oasis,” Chembezi says.

The Mastercard Foundation created these fellowships through an endowed donation to Queen’s University in honour of Jim Leech, former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mastercard Foundation and Chancellor Emeritus of Queen’s University (14th Chancellor). In 2014, Leech was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions as an innovator in pension management, for his writings about retirement funding, and for his community involvement.

The applications for the upcoming academic year close on Dec. 10, 2021.

Learn more about the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship and complete an application today.

For application inquiries, contact:
Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre
Megan Sieroka
Program Coordinator at the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students

Queen’s remembers Professor Jon Pharoah

Jon Pharoah
Jon Pharoah

The Queen’s community is remembering Jon Pharoah, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, who died Friday, Nov. 19.

Dr. Pharoah arrived at Queen’s in 2002, shortly after earning his PhD from the University of Victoria. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo.

“Jon was a friend and colleague to many faculty, staff, and students,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “Jon was a person with big ideas and my conversations with him left me inspired to think about what could be. I will miss Jon’s optimism and enthusiasm that served to inspire his colleagues and so many of his former students.”

His areas of study included hydrogen energy systems, carbon dioxide re-use, computational fluid dynamics, energy from salinity differences and membrane separation / water purification.

Dr. Pharoah was one of the founding members of the Queen’s-RMC Fuel Cell Research Centre (FCRC). His early research on computational modelling of the porous materials used in fuel cells made a major contribution to the improvement of fuel cell performance and also brought international recognition to FCRC.

“Jon’s initial work evolved and expanded to hydrogen energy-related technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which was the underlying motivation behind so much of his work,” says Brant Peppley, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering who worked with Dr. Pharoah as part of FCRC. “He was a champion for battling climate-change and inspired his graduate and undergraduate students to recognize the importance of this issue.”

Dr. Pharoah had a lasting positive effect on his colleagues in his department, Queen’s Engineering, and across the university and cared deeply about climate change, sustainable energy systems and teaching.

“Jon was an outgoing and friendly person who loved a good debate, particularly in areas he felt very passionate about, such as climate change and sustainable energy systems. It’s worth noting that Jon was sounding alarms about climate change long before the recent, heightened interest in the topic, as evidenced by a thought-provoking TEDxQueensU talk he gave in January 2014,” says Keith Pilkey, Head of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Jon was also passionate about teaching. He often supplemented course materials with discussions on timely topics, and he always prioritized his students’ overall learning experience. Jon will be greatly missed by all who had the fortune of working with him and learning from him.”

A Celebration of Life for family and friends will be held Saturday, Dec. 4 from 10 am-noon at the Outdoor Centre of Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area. An outdoor tribute will commence at 11 am.

Supports are available through the Employee Family Assistance Program, which provides 24-hour support at 1-877-789-7572. The Office of Faith and Spiritual Life can also provide faith-based supports as applicable. Good2Talk (for 24/7 confidential support, call 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868) or EmpowerMe (24/7 confidential counselling by phone and online at 1-844-741-6389) are also available for support and resources.

For the Record – Dec. 2, 2021

For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

Submit For the Record information for posting to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.

Selection Committee – Head, Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr. Brian Amsden’s term as Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering ends June 30, 2022. In accordance with Article 41 of the Collective Agreement between Queen’s University Faculty Association and Queen’s University, a selection committee has been formed to assist Provost and Vice Principal (Academic) Mark Green, in the selection of a Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The membership of the committee is as follows:

Elected Members:

  • Michael Cunningham, Professor
  • Martin Guay, Professor
  • Jim McLellan, Professor
  • Louise Meunier, Assistant Professor
  • Laura Wells, Assistant Professor
  • Scott Yam, Cognate Faculty
  • Lynn O’Malley, Department Manager
  • Nick Neokleous, Undergraduate student
  • Brianna Bradley, Graduate Student
  • Tara MacDonald, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies.
  • Kevin J. Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Jacqueline Hill, Staffing Officer, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

Members of the university community are invited to comment on the present state and future prospects of the Department of Chemical Engineering and to submit names of possible candidates for the headship to Kevin J. Deluzio, Dean (Chair), c/o Jacqueline Hill, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science by Jan. 14, 2022.  All letters will be reviewed by the selection committee and will become a part of the record of decision making.

From Input to Action: Your Voice Matters

Queen’s shares in-depth Student Experiences Survey report on equity, diversity, inclusion, and sexual violence on campus, and commits to actions.

Illustration from report's front cover.

In early 2021, Queen’s launched its first-ever campus climate survey, the Student Experiences Survey (SES), to better understand systemic racism, exclusionary and discriminatory behaviours, and sexual violence on campus — an important step taken in support of the university’s Declaration of commitment to address systemic racism and other important safety initiatives. 

Working alongside students, the project team garnered responses from more than 5,400 students; responses that will inform both refined and new approaches to anti-racism and anti-violence activities.

Today, Queen’s shares its detailed analysis of the results in a report entitled From Input to Action: Your Voice Matters. It includes insight into survey results and themes, and the lived experiences of Queen’s students, as well as an overview of available campus initiatives, supports, and resources aimed at advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and safety. These results establish benchmarks against which to measure ongoing progress.

“This important input from our students confirms there are pressing issues relating to oppression, violence, and exclusion, that we must continue to address,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion). “Although we have taken many important steps forward, the results give voice to what our students are experiencing and reinforce that we must work together and do much more. The university is deeply committed to confronting these hard truths, listening to our students’ voices, and taking meaningful action so we can make crucial progress toward a safer, more welcoming, and inclusive campus.”

Campus community members are encouraged to review the findings and engage with their colleagues and the SES project team to devise and respond in meaningful and sustainable ways. A new Student Engagement and Inclusion Coordinator position has been created to facilitate student-led discussions, working alongside the longstanding Student Advisory Group and student leaders and groups to solicit feedback on the results and next steps. 

The Department of Student Affairs’ inaugural Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor in the Yellow House Centre for Student Equity and Inclusion will also contribute to the work. The role was created apart from the SES project but is aligned in its mandate to lead and support a range of equity, diversity, and inclusion work across the university.

“As a non-white student, I had a deep emotional response to survey findings that showed many students feel the need to hide some aspects of their identity to fit in, and that many are unaware of available policies, procedures, and supports available to students who face racism or sexual violence,” says Husna Ghanizada, a third-year student who is part of the SES Student Advisory Group, as well as a Gender-Based Violence Awareness & Bystander Intervention Education Outreach and Operations Student Coordinator. “I have had the honour of working with a dedicated group of staff and students who unequivocally care about student experiences, and I am hopeful that the insights from the Student Experiences Survey will inspire greater inclusivity, equity for all members of the community, as well as make Queen’s a safer space.”

Faculty and staff groups will also review the results and are being tasked with identify existing and new actions that can contribute to an improved campus climate — work that will be co-facilitated by Deans and the SES project team.

“The work to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion is foundational to everything that we do as a university,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The institutional values articulated in the new Queen’s Strategy inform our collective expectations for these efforts, and the Student Experiences Survey and related activities will help us realize them. Of course, transforming the culture of an institution takes time and the engagement of every unit, department, and member of the campus community. Change will be iterative, but it will be achieved.”

Read 2021 SES Report, From Input to Action: Your Voice Matters, in full. Students are urged to review its findings and to get involved with upcoming engagement opportunities starting in January.

Readers should be aware that this report reviews Queen’s students’ experiences and perceptions of campus safety, incidents of exclusion, harassment, racism, and sexual violence — all of which are difficult topics. If you feel overwhelmed at any point while reading this document or reflecting on the topics of this report, pay attention to your needs. There are resources to support you.

Supports for students during exam season

The end of the term can be busy and stressful for many students, especially for those with exams and major assignments.

Units across Student Affairs have organized several events and programming to help students to stay healthy and feel prepared.

Earlier this week, Student Community Relations led a Check-in/Treat Yourself outreach on West Campus and in near-campus neighbourhoods, reaching more than 1,000 students. Staff and peers handed out hot chocolate and apple cider, as well as bags of treats and resource cards covering academic skills and writing, self-care, tips for health and wellbeing, support services, and upcoming events.

Student Academic Success Services (SASS), in partnership with Residence Life, ran a successful all-day study event called Get It Done in Ban Righ Dining Hall on Nov. 28, as well as workshops on essay writing, multiple choice exams, and several course-specific sessions.

“Exams are a turning point in the year for students; they signal the end of a term’s hard work,” says Mikayla Sebesta, Outreach and Peer Programs Coordinator for SASS. “The shift to studying for finals and exams can often be stressful for students, but SASS’s exam prep programming focuses on promoting strategies that will help students do their best.”

Over the course of the exam period, students can visit SASS in Stauffer library for continued exam prep workshops, or book an appointment for a one-on-one writing or academic skills support session.

Student Wellness Services (SWS) is also offering programming to promote health and wellbeing during this busy time. There are online resources, including how to manage test and exam anxiety, as well as a daily exam health challenge on SWS’s Be Well Instagram.

Students can join a SWS counsellor online each week to learn Mindful Moment techniques, and check out Health Promotion’s monthly CampusWELL online magazine to learn 5 steps for escaping procrastination and a 10-minute study break workout.

“While students may not have a lot of time to focus on their health and wellbeing during the exam period, figuring out a few strategies that help you reduce stress can be key,” says Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Special Projects for SWS. “When your stress levels are lower, not only do you feel better but often you can focus better and study more effectively.”

At the Health Promotion Hub in Mitchell Hall, students can visit with Oscar, a fluffy golden retriever therapy dog from St. John’s Ambulance, every Friday from 1:00-2:00 pm as part of Dogs on Campus, or they can register to pick up free mason jar chili and granola on December 16 , or drop in to chat with a

Exercise is a great stress buster, and this month at the ARC, students can join Charity Group Fitness classes for the AMS Food Bank or drop-in for open recreation, or a lane swim.

Students living off-campus are invited to take a study break and enter Student Community Relations’ door decorating contest on Instagram at @QueensuSSCE. The theme is ‘what winter/the holidays mean to you and your housemates’, with prizes and bonus points for using recycled materials.

For more information on all exam prep resources and programming, visit the Student Affairs Student Resources webpage.

December 6 ceremony memorializes victims

Queen’s University marks National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women with event and livestream.

December 6 memorial permanent installation
A permanent memorial installation in Beamish-Munro Hall, designed by Haley Adams, features a white rose petal for each of the 14 victims of the Dec. 6 massacre. (University Communications)

The Queen’s community will mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Monday, Dec. 6 with a ceremony, hosted by the Engineering Society, at the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall from 1-2 p.m.

The event will also be livestreamed for those not on campus.

Each year on Dec. 6, Canadians pause to reflect on the murder of 14 women that occurred at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. It is a day to remember the victims and think about the effects that gender-based violence has had – and continues to have – on our society.

Most of the women killed that day were engineering students and were specifically targeted because they were women.

“We need to remember the terrible events of December 6. It is especially important for the engineering community to reflect on that loss, and to strengthen our resolve to welcome more women into the profession,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “As a society we still have much work to do in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion, so this is a meaningful day for everyone at Queen’s. I encourage people from across the university to join us in reflecting on this day’s significance.”

As part of the ceremony, 14 current Queen’s Engineering students will speak about the 14 women who were killed and express their views on why it is important to remember them.

Making fall break permanent

Queen’s will provide a week away from classes each fall term going forward to help the university community rest and focus on health and wellbeing. 

Photograph of Queen's pole pennant in front of Grant Hall.
The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. (University Communications)

Fall break will now be a permanent fixture on the Queen’s academic calendar following a vote by the Senate on Nov. 30. The Senate made this decision based on the recommendation of the Fall Term Break Task Force, which conducted broad consultation with members of the Queen’s community and received just under 8,000 responses to the fall term break survey that was open in October.

“We had a fantastic response rate to our survey from students, faculty, and staff, and we found overwhelming support for making fall term break a permanent part of the academic calendar going forward,” says William Nelson, Co-Chair of the Fall Term Break Task Force and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science. “Students in particular let us know that a fall break is beneficial for their mental health, as it allows them to relax, rest, catch up on work, and, in some cases, visit friends and family back home. Queen’s has listened to this feedback and is pleased to take action in support of our community’s health and wellness.”

The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. To accommodate this new schedule, classes in the fall term will now begin on the Tuesday after Labour Day. The consultation process found that faculty, staff, and students believe this is the least disruptive way to alter the academic calendar. Student Affairs programming will continue during fall breaks for students who remain in Kingston.

“Mental health is an important issue for many students, and an annual fall term break will be an excellent opportunity for them to focus on wellbeing while resting and regrouping for the rest of the semester,” says Ryan Sieg, Vice President (University Affairs), Queen’s Alma Mater Society and member of the Fall Term Break Task Force. “This change will align us with many other universities who have found a fall term break beneficial for their communities.”

In addition to the survey, members of the task force held consultation meetings in faculties, schools, and units across Queen’s. The task force also reviewed the fall term break policies of a selection of other Canadian universities and found that most offered a fall term break in 2021. Following recommendations from the Report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, Queen’s introduced the fall term break in 2018 as a three-year pilot. The Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures (SCADP) created the Fall Term Break Task Force this fall to provide a comprehensive recommendation on the future of the break. Prior to approval from Senate, the task force’s recommendation was approved by SCADP on Nov. 10.

Learn more about the Fall Term Break Task Force on the Queen’s Secretariat website.

Advancing Queen's as the university of the future

Principal Patrick Deane meets with the campus community to give progress update on the Queen's Strategy and related initiatives.

On Nov. 29, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane held a virtual gathering with the Queen’s community to discuss the university’s strategy for the future, and the work being done in support of this plan. Grounded in the institution’s values of truth, responsibility, respect, freedom, and wellbeing, the strategy encompasses all the university’s work, spanning student learning, research impact, global and community engagement, organizational culture, and more. 

Principal Deane shared a new video outlining Queen’s vision, mission, and values, fielded questions, and updated faculty, staff, and students on how implementation of the strategy will move ahead.

“The time has come for us to begin to implement the university's strategy for the future,” says Principal Deane. “The challenges of a global pandemic may have delayed us but it has not dampened or diminished our hope and aspirations. Now is the time to begin the work to realize our bold, strategic goals for Queen's.”

Earlier this year, the university announced its new Queen's Strategy, which laid out the university’s mission, vision, and values, and identified six key areas through which the institution can be positioned as the university for the future. As part of this launch, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane established working groups — each tasked with conceptualizing how to advance each key area of focus — which met throughout the summer to develop proposed initiatives. 

Each working group is fronted by an ‘action champion’, a faculty or staff person appointed to lead the implementation work stemming from the proposed initiatives. The breadth of proposed initiatives spans from research positioning and pedagogical development to community engagement, resources and supports, and beyond.

The first investment in realizing the proposed initiatives will come from the Principal’s Office, with $420,000 designated to health and wellness improvements and programming within Human Resources. 

Throughout the winter, the campus community will continue to engage on the Queen's Strategy, with open town hall engagements; meetings of the Board, Senate, and University Council; student, faculty, staff, and alumni outreach, and much more. The strategy’s formal launch is set to be unveiled during a community event currently slated for January. 

Learn more on the Queen’s Strategy webpage.

Queen's welcomes Karta Scholars

The international Karta Initiative provides access to university for promising students from rural India.

Photograph of Karta Scholars at Queen's.
Sahana Nayaka and Akshay Desale are the first two students to join Queen's through the university's partnership with the Karta Initiative. (University Communications)

Talented students are everywhere in the world, but, for many, a university experience is well out of reach.

Queen’s has committed to a range of programs to help address this challenge, including its partnership with the Karta Initiative, an international charity that works to transform the futures of students from developing and emerging economies. In 2019, Queen’s signed an agreement with the Karta Initiative to support up to five Karta scholars from under-resourced areas in rural India to study at the university each year. Although the pandemic has limited this number so far, the university is pleased to be supporting two scholars this year.

Sahana Nayaka joined Queen’s as its first Karta Scholar in 2019, and Akshay Desale became Queen’s second Karta Scholar this fall. Since arriving on campus, they’ve been busy adjusting not only to life at university but also to life in Canada more broadly. The Queen’s Gazette connected with Sahana and Akshay to learn more about how they came to Queen’s and where they hope their education will take them after they graduate.

The Karta Initiative offers a wide range of programs for students in rural India. You’re both a part of the Karta Catalyst Scholars program, which provides students with financial and personal support to study at leading universities. It is open to only a select group of talented and community-oriented students. What was your path to becoming a Karta Scholar?

Sahana: It started for me in grade 11, when my school was selected to take part in the Karta Initiative. Several of us were selected to apply based on our grades, then later we had a series of interviews with the Karta mentors and had to write about ourselves, our background, and why we want to be part of Karta. A few of us were then officially selected as Karta members, which opened up opportunities like summer school and workshops on English. After two years of being members, we were then assessed again to determine if we could move on and become Karta Scholars. The main thing you’re assessed on is your values, specifically flexibility, integrity, perseverance, and service. Not every member is able to become a scholar. If you’re selected, you’ll have an opportunity to study at a university. It was a very proud moment to find out I’d been selected to become a Karta Scholar.

Akshay: My path was very similar to Sahana’s. I became a Karta member in grade 10, which gave me the chance to learn a lot about life at universities and how they work. Then I became a Karta Scholar in grade 12.

As a Karta scholar, you had the option to pursue an undergraduate education at many universities in Canada, the United Kingdom, and India. Why did you choose Queen’s for your studies?

Akshay: Queen’s is a world-class university, and it provided me with a very good scholarship. I also knew that Queen’s was going to be a very supportive environment to study in. Through Karta, I got the chance to speak with Sahana about her experiences at Queen’s and she told me how welcoming the community is here and how much mentorship you can find.

Sahana: I didn’t know much about Queen’s except what I found on Google. But I knew I liked the subjects offered here, and I liked the flexibility Queen’s gives you in the first year find out what you want to study. I come from a science background and really enjoyed taking classes in all subjects, like physics, chemistry, biology, and math. So I wanted to continue to explore different subjects until I found out which one fits well for me, and Queen’s offered that opportunity.

How have you been settling into life at Queen’s so far? Sahana, you’ve been here a few years now so maybe you feel like you’ve been comfortable here for some time.

Sahana: I do feel comfortable, and in large part that’s because Queen’s has a great ecosystem of support for us. It makes us feel like we are a part of a community. Coming from a very rural area in India, it’s a big transition to study at a university in Canada. For myself, and I think for Akshay too: we never imagined we would be here when we were growing up. To help us make this transition, Queen’s has provided us with support throughout our journey, especially from the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and other units in Student Affairs. At the beginning there was definitely some culture shock and language adjustment, and Queen’s has helped us through it all.

Akshay: My experience has been pretty similar to Sahana’s. I also come from a rural background in India, so studying at a university like Queen’s is huge for me. And it’s a very huge transition. The cultures are different. People and perspectives are different. Everything is different here. But people come to Queen’s from very different backgrounds. And everyone is open to every kind of background. This has helped me a lot. So I feel I have been settling in really well in terms of making friends here, and sharing my culture with them and learning about their cultures. And like Sahana said, we have access to all kinds of resources and moral support at Queen’s through QUIC, Student Affairs, and other offices on campus. We’ve been getting help whenever we need it.

Since you’re feeling so supported that probably helps you have the energy to focus on your coursework. What subjects are you studying at Queen’s? Have you had any favourite courses yet?

Akshay: I am in the computing program, and I really enjoy coding. So one of my favourite courses this term is CISC 101, where we’re being introduced to coding and learning Python, a programming language. What I really enjoy about coding is the sense of completion I get from it, the sense I’m really building something and creating something of my own. I find that very satisfying. When I study other subjects, I feel like I need to take a break after two or three hours. But when I study coding I feel like I can do it forever. Everything can be done in different ways when you’re coding. That’s one of the best things about it.

Sahana: I am a mathematics major, and one of my favourite courses has been one I’m taking this term, Introduction to Finance. I like working with numbers and learning how money works. It’s really interesting to see what happens when money moves from one place in the economy to another. Finance also gives me the chance to blend my interests in math and economics together. I took economics courses my first two years and really enjoyed them. Since I’m in third year, I feel like I need to start figuring out what I want to do, and my interests are starting to move more towards finance.

So you’ve started to talk about what you might want to do with your life. You both obviously still have a lot of time to figure things out, but as of now where do you see your career or education going after you graduate from Queen’s?

Sahana: For now, I’m not really sure, but I think I want to pursue graduate studies. Maybe a master’s in finance or an MBA. I would also be open to working. I still need to figure out my path and where I want to be after graduation.

Akshay: Within the computing program, I’ll be focusing on artificial intelligence. And I’m also learning data science. By the end of fourth year, I’m hoping to start studying higher level machine learning and other subjects related to data science. After I graduate, I’d like to try to find a job working in data science for a big tech firm like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.

Earlier, you both noted how coming to Queen’s from rural India was a big transition for both of you. What’s one thing you were really surprised by when you arrived in Canada?

Akshay: I knew a lot about Queen’s and Canada from Sahana before I got here. But I was still surprised by how warmly accepted I was by the other students. I knew everyone would be kind to me, but I still wasn’t sure if I’d really be accepted and make friends easily. But I was surprised that my background made no difference when it came to making friends. People welcomed me and included me from the start.

Sahana: Coming from a huge country like India with one of the highest populations in the world, I was surprised by how few people there seemed to be here when I first came. I remember asking myself: “where are the people?” And like Akshay I was surprised by how nice the people are. Then winter was a big surprise too. The first time it snowed, I was very excited. But each time it’s snowed after that I think I’ve found it less exciting.


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