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Student Learning Experience

Helping students map out their futures

Career Services’ Major Maps mark five years of helping students navigate the opportunities available at Queen’s.

picture of students using major maps
Students getting their maps at Majors Night.

In 2015, Queen’s launched the Major Maps, the first of their kind in Canada. Led by the Career Services team in Student Affairs, the maps were developed in collaboration with faculties and departments, students, and staff from across the university.

With the success of the Major Maps for undergraduate students, including receiving the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) Innovation in Student Engagement Award, the Career Services team worked with the School of Graduate Studies in 2016 to launch Grad Maps for masters and doctoral students. Since launching, the online maps have been viewed more than 260,000 times, and more than 30,000 print copies are in the hands of students.

In addition to their popularity at Queen’s, the Major Maps have been recognized across the sector as an innovative resource that has made a real impact in helping students with program choice and career planning.

“In over a decade of research and writing about student success strategies, no other practice has been as popular with the audiences we work with — provosts, deans, advisors, faculty, even boards,” says Colin Koproske, Managing Director of Resource Development at the Education Advisory Board. “When we show the maps to other administrators, you can see their eyes light up. Working with the major map team at Queen’s University has helped us introduce the tactic to countless institutions, many of whom have developed or are developing maps on their own campuses.”

Each map lays out a timeline with program information, career options, and job skills tied to each degree program. The maps help students navigate the opportunities available at Queen’s by providing advice on academics, extracurricular activities, networking, international opportunities, and career development. Students, advisors, professors, prospective students and their parents have all found the maps to be an indispensable tool for program and career planning.

“With Major Maps, we wanted to create a resource that really helped students to make the most of their time at Queen’s and prepare for life after graduation,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services and Experiential Learning. “We are pleased with the positive impact the maps have had over the years on students’ learning experience.”

screenshot of example map (Psychology)
A Major Map for Psychology.

Queen’s Executive Director, Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment, Chris Coupland says “guidance counselors, prospective students and parents routinely remark how valuable the maps are in understanding potential programs beyond the classroom experience.  They are a great resource and speaks to the full breadth of the Queen’s student experience.”

In the five years since launch, this innovative approach to supporting students’ career planning has proven its widespread popularity and impact. The Major Maps and Grad Maps continue to be updated annually, and new maps are created as new programs are approved. 

More students eligible to attend Queen’s through Schulich Leader Scholarships

Increased investment by businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich means Queen’s is eligible to receive up to 10 Schulich Leaders each year.

More future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math will be coming to Queen’s, thanks to the generosity of one of Canada’s top philanthropists.

Canadian businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich announced he is increasing the size of the Schulich Leaders Scholarship program, one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarships.

The news means Queen’s is eligible to receive up to 10 Schulich Leaders each year, an increase from four in previous years. The funding for STEM students (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is worth between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the field of study.

“Queen’s is very grateful to Seymour Schulich for his generosity and for providing this opportunity for future leaders in engineering and technology,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs.

Schulich announced he is boosting his investment in the scholarship program to $200 million to keep Canada at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy. The increased funding will see the Schulich Leader Scholarships double from 50 to 100 annual awards at 20 universities across Canada.

“Schulich Leader Scholarships are the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world,” Schulich says. “With 100 outstanding students selected in Canada each year, it is all but guaranteed that this group will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators.”

Queen’s has received 26 Schulich Leader Scholarships since the program started in 2012.

Learn more about the 2019 Schulich Leaders at Queen’s.

Sharing a sustainable message

Queen’s student will discuss environmentally friendly food business at a city symposium.

Devon Hawkins
Devon Hawkins will be speaking at the Kingston Climate Change Symposium.

Queen’s students are known for their drive to make an impact on the world, and Devon Hawkins, an undergraduate student pursuing dual degrees in commerce and global development, has been doing his part for the environment as a co-founder of a sustainable food business. He will soon be spreading his message on the impact our dietary choices can have on the environment at the Kingston Climate Change Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 16. The symposium is being hosted by Sustainable Kingston in partnership with the City of Kingston.

Hawkins founded nufuuds with three other Queen’s students during the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) in 2019. When Hawkins entered QICSI, he did not have a team of co-founders, but he quickly found a group of environmentally-minded students who wanted to use entrepreneurship to promote sustainability. After considering several ideas, they decided to develop a packaged food business focused on an unlikely ingredient: algae.

Research shows that algae could be a good alternative to meat as it is dense in protein and can actually be carbon-negative if sourced locally. The students’ goal is to eventually produce a range of foods, and they have started by making protein bars. The nufuuds Impact Bar is their first creation, and, after testing over 50 different recipes, Devon believes they have come upon the right mixture of ingredients to make the algae tasty while preserving its nutritional value. The founders next hope to develop foods like algae-based pasta that their customers can use as the basis for meals.

“Queen’s has played a large role in helping me get to the point where I am working on a business that I believe will have a positive impact on the environment. From the inspiration I get from my professors and peers to the guidance I’ve received from our alumni network, I can say that the university has helped me find many ways to merge my interests in sustainability and entrepreneurship,” says Hawkins.

The Kingston Climate Change Symposium is being co-sponsored by Queen’s through the Office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). And the Office of Sustainability has conducted a ticket giveaway for the event. In October of 2019, Queen’s held its own forum on climate change, as part of its involvement with the University Climate Change Coalition, and guest speakers from the City of Kingston, including Mayor Bryan Paterson, attended to present and moderate panels.

Women in Computing conference comes full circle

The Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing brings together leaders in research, education, and industry as well as students for inspiration and engagement.

  • CAN-CWiC Wendy Powley
    Wendy Powley, Assistant Professor at the Queen's School of Computing, speaks during the Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (CAN-CWiC). (Photo by Doug Martin/Queen's School of Computing)
  • Aspirations in Computing awards
    The Aspirations in Computing awards recognized high school students from across Canada who are interested in computing. The awards were given out at CAN-CWiC for the first time. (Photo by Doug Martin/Queen's School of Computing)
  • CAN-CWiC crowd
    More than 750 participants from across Canada attended CAN-CWiC, which was hosted at the International Centre in Mississauga for the first time. (Photo by Doug Martin/Queen's School of Computing)
  • Participants laughing while attending an event
    CAN-CWIC offers a number of presentations, talks, and workshops that provide opportunities to connect with colleagues and peers from across Canada. (Photo by Doug Martin/Queen's School of Computing)
  • Participants smiling while attending an event
    CAN-CWiC is an opportunity for students and young professionals to meet their peers and hear from those who are already working in the technology field. (Photo by Doug Martin/Queen's School of Computing)

The drive to bring women in technology together and to inspire and engage the next generation is only getting stronger, bigger and better.

The Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (CAN-CWiC) – which began as an Ontario-only event in 2010 – attracted 750 participants from across the country in early November and brought together leaders in research, education, and industry as well as students. To meet the demands of the increased attendance and travel needs, the conference was hosted at the International Centre in Mississauga for the first time.

The Queen’s School of Computing played a key role in creating the original event and Assistant Professor Wendy Powley continues to be the general chair of the organizing committee. Over the years, she has seen not only amazing growth but a strengthening of the conference’s roots with many attendees coming back to contribute once they have established themselves professionally.

“The really cool thing about the celebration now is that we are seeing it come full circle,” she says. “So many of the people who were presenting at the event – we had five parallel sessions running at the same time – were people who attended the conference in the past as students.”

Queen’s alumni still play a prominent role as well, not only presenting and giving back to the conference but also bringing their current companies on board as they search for diverse, employable talent.

The event is also an opportunity for students and young professionals to meet their peers and hear from those who are already working in the technology field. One key topic brought up during the conference was “impostor syndrome,” where one doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. It was the focus of a panel discussion that included three Queen's alumnae - Morgan Klein-MacNeil, (Comm’11), Dr. Kelly Lyons (PHD '94), and Dr. Amber Simpson (PHD '10), all who attended the first conference.  By bringing it to the forefront at the conference, attendees come to realize that they are not alone, that they are not an impostor.

“The first time I ever heard about imposter syndrome was when I attended this conference in 2010 as a fourth-year student,” says Klein-MacNeil, now the AVP, Air Canada Partnership and Loyalty Program Technology at TD Bank. “I remember that panel very vividly – there was a woman speaking who had a PhD and was just incredibly technical and brilliant. Hearing her speak was just the biggest relief for me. It was so reassuring to know that this is a normal feeling, and even people who are super smart, confident, and collected are going through the same thing. I still share that story with many women I mentor.”

Another goal of the conference, Powley points out, is to keep Canadian talent here by bringing industry leaders and students together at various events, including the dinner, where they can build connections and share information.

“We had 750 women in this room for the dinner, many of them looking for jobs, many of them wanting to stay in Canada,” Powley says.  “Through the conference the attendees find out that success doesn't have to mean going to Silicon Valley. There are excellent opportunities here in Canada and excellent companies to work for.”

New at this year’s conference was a forum specifically for graduate students and an inclusive teaching workshop for faculty members and high school teachers.

Another new initiative, in collaboration with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) in the U.S., was the Aspirations in Computing awards, which recognize high school students and provide valuable encouragement at a stage in their lives when they may need it.

The students first had to apply and submit a short essay about why they are interested in computing and what they want to do in the future.

A small recognition perhaps, but the result can be significant.

“Reaching out and offering a few words of encouragement to a girl makes a huge difference and the hope is that if they are recognized for contributions in computing and future goals they will continue on to study computing,” Powley says, adding that 29 girls from across Canada were recognized at the event. “The hope is that this will help promote young students considering going into computing, that it provides the nudge, the confidence to follow this path.”

Inspiration and engagement – and that’s important because women still are underrepresented at most computing programs as well as in the workplace.

“Companies are searching for talented developers and they have realized that a diverse workforce is more productive and produces better solutions" Powley points out. “Given the gender imbalance in computing, it is important that we reach out to encourage more young women to enter the field and support and encourage those who are currently in our programs.

To learn more about CAN-CWiC, visit the website.

Find out more about the Queen’s School of Computing.

Learning the benefits of internships

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering hosts networking event to help STEM students understand the value of internships.

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering (QWiSE) hosted Spill the Tea: Internship Edition, an event to help promote how completing an internship can benefit students studying science or engineering. (Supplied Photo)

Internships provide students with opportunities to build their skills and make connections in career fields they are interested in pursuing. But not all students are aware of the benefits of internships or how to find them. A student-run club has been working to help women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learn about the value of internships and the opportunities that are open to them as Queen’s students.

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering (QWiSE), which has chapters across Canada, aims to support and empower women in STEM to help them achieve their full potential as future engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders. From networking and outreach events to mentorship programs, this group provides opportunities to foster enthusiasm for science, while supporting women and girls in seeking equity in the STEM sector.

Their latest initiative, Spill the Tea: Internship Edition, promoted in collaboration with Queen’s Career Services, looked to increase awareness of how completing an internship can benefit students studying science or engineering. Queen’s students have access to many internship opportunities through the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP), a degree enrichment opportunity through which students participate in 12- to 16-month paid, professionally supervised, career-related work experiences.

“This event was a great opportunity to use the QWiSE mentorship platform to share what we’ve learned,” says Ashlyn Secord, Co-Director of Mentorship with QWiSE. “By participating in the internship program, I gained so many soft skills I wouldn’t have gained in my academic career. There are so many internship opportunities that students in science don’t know about, whether it’s from a lack of understanding or lack of awareness.”

In an effort to share their knowledge and experiences, QWiSE decided to organize a drop-in networking event to connect former QUIP interns with students on campus, who may have questions about how an internship can fit into their degree plan. In collaboration with QUIP, QWiSE hosted dozens of students who have returned from internships for tea, snacks, and enlightening conversations about how to test-drive their career with an internship.

Members of QWiSE and QUIP would like to see Spill the Tea: Internship Edition become an annual networking event for students who are interested in internships. Both groups felt that Spill the Tea “was very much a success,” Secord says. “For events with a focus on career development, partnering with Career Services and QUIP is important and beneficial.”

Students who are interested in registering for the QUIP program for positions starting in May or September 2020 can attend an information session this January to find out more. 

For more information about QUIP, and how to hire an intern for a role on campus, visit the Career Services website.

Supporting students during exams

Student Affairs offers supports to help students prepare and stay healthy throughout the exam period.

Graphic for 15 Days of Exams Health Challenge
Queen's students can turn to the resources in Student Affairs for help as the semester comes to a close.

It’s exam time at Queen’s, and Student Academic Success Services (SASS) and Student Wellness Services in the Division of Student Affairs are among the units on campus offering supports to help reduce exam anxiety, promote wellbeing, and support academic success.

“The exam period can be stressful, but the university has services to help students study effectively, reduce test anxiety, and stay healthy during this busy time,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We want students to know that they don’t have to prepare for exams alone. We have many in-person and online resources to support them as they finish the term.”

SASS offers exam prep workshops in the last week of classes every semester, and students can continue to book one-on-one appointments with SASS professionals into December. For individual exam prep, students can work with SASS team members to develop customizable learning strategies and study schedules.

SASS also offers workshops that focus on specific courses and exam formats, which give students additional opportunities to receive focused professional support. Students can consult the SASS online exam prep or test anxiety resources if they’re looking for quick information or don’t have time to come in for an appointment.

SASS also has course-specific study posters, which provide detailed study tips and common mistakes related to many popular first- and second-year courses.

To encourage students to prioritize their wellness as a way to manage exam stress, the Health Promotion team in Student Wellness Services launched the ninth annual 15 Days of Exams Health Challenge on Dec. 4. The Queen's University Be Well social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) will post daily tips and challenges through to Dec. 19. Each post will provide a student perspective on how to implement simple health actions during the exam period. Students are encouraged to leave comments about their healthy habits and can win weekly prize baskets.

“Physical, mental and social health are all important aspects of wellness. The goal of the 15 Days of Exams Health Challenge campaign is to highlight the importance of taking care of all three areas, especially during exams”, says Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator. “Taking time for your own wellness not only helps you feel better, but also creates a campus community where others feel empowered to do the same.” 

The challenges change every year and are created in collaboration with students who work and volunteer with Health Promotion.

Students can also access two new options for 24/7 assistance throughout exams and over the holiday break. Empower Me, offered in partnership with the AMS and SGPS, provides 24/7 access to confidential counselling services in many languages from anywhere in North America, and Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) offers interactive online wellness modules that include “Calming your worry,” “Improve your Mood,” and “Let Go and Be Well.”

Academic Skills Specialist Dr. Lindsay Heggie’s Top Tips for Students for Exam Prep

  1. Make a plan.
    Follow the Student Academic Success Services exam study schedule to give yourself some structure and balance as you study for several exams concurrently. This will ensure you give each exam the time it requires and avoid cramming.
  2. Include self-testing and review in every study session.
    Start each study block with a brief review of what you studied last time(s). End each session with 15-20 minutes of self-testing (e.g., redoing homework questions or examples from a lecture; completing questions that you got from previous exams or made yourself). For more, check out the “How to Use 3-hour Study Blocks” section in the Student Academic Success Services Exam Study Plan.
  3. Take care of yourself.
    Exam season is a marathon, so you’ll need stamina. Get a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours) to promote focus and memory. Eat regularly and eat good healthy food. Take some time for restful and rejuvenating activities (e.g., time with friends, exercise) between study sessions. You can do it!

Hitting all the right notes

Queen's Faculty of Education unveils Cadenza Practice App, a new digital tool that helps students grow and blossom as musicians.

Through the Cadenza Practice App piano teachers and students can collaboratively plan each practice week and assign homework.

The weekly piano lesson, with no meaningful communication with the teacher between lessons, may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new digital tool unveiled at the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University.

The Cadenza practice app, developed by Queen’s researchers in collaboration with researchers at Concordia and community partners, is a digital tool created to support music learning in studios, ensembles, and classrooms. The app incorporates several unique tools designed to help motivate music students to keep up with their studies, including a digital planner, online lesson assignments, an interactive notebook and a media annotation feedback tool.

Using the online tool, teachers and students can collaboratively plan each practice week and assign homework. Students can track their progress throughout the week, and parents can check their child’s progress.

The idea behind Cadenza was to develop a digital app to support students between lessons, motivating students to practice during the week and to stick with their musical studies. The research team was established over a decade ago and large-scale studies involving close to 20,000 participants were undertaken to see what students, teachers, and parents most needed. Smaller scale studies were also carried out where music studio teachers and their students were interviewed and followed for a number of years. Teacher and student advisors were also involved in developing the app and interpreting research results.

The project, which represents a great example of research translated to social innovation, received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The project also includes partners in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with the goal of encouraging individual studio teachers and classroom music teachers to use Cadenza.

“What a privilege to see research turned into practice. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to see a young student using Cadenza, growing in musical skills and blossoming as a musician. After all, it’s not about falling in love with an app — it’s about falling in love with music,” says Rena Upitis, professor of Education at Queen’s and principal investigator on the project

The app makes it fast and efficient for teachers to plan lessons, assign homework, and provide feedback between lessons. The software also includes an annotation feature where students or teachers can add a written comment to a recorded video clip. Students are encouraged to reflect on their practice session and parents can check on their child’s progress.

“Knowledge mobilization programs are not limited to the traditional STEM disciplines,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). “The Cadenza Community Project is an outstanding example of an important social innovation initiative based on pedagogical research. Queen’s is pleased to have support this important project. Congratulations to the Cadenza Community team members on the formal launch of this project.”

Incubating within the Faculty of Education, the Cadenza Community Project recently celebrated the formal launch at a reception held at Duncan McArthur Hall on December 2.  Now that the app is formally launched, the Cadenza team is seeking partnerships with music schools and organizations to identify teams of teacher users. Meanwhile, anyone can access the app at cadenzapracticeapp.com.

Change One Thing to make a difference

The Centre for Teaching and Learning launches the Change One Thing challenge for faculty at Queen's.

When Queen’s faculty members attend one of the many workshops offered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning, they are introduced to new ideas and methods for improving the teaching and learning environment at Queen’s.

[Sue Fostaty Young sits behind her laptop at the Centre for Teaching and Learning]
Sue Fostaty Young, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning has placed her Change One Thing sticker on the cover of her laptop to work as a conversation starter when she meets with faculty members at Queen's. (Submitted Photo)

For some participants, says Sue Fostaty Young, Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning, the result can be information overload. And that can interfere with what should be a positive experience.

“We have heard consistently from people how excited they are after they leave our workshops because they are learning so many new and different ways of teaching and making things more exciting for both themselves and their students,” Dr. Fostaty Young says. “But then they can become overwhelmed thinking they have to do everything that they have heard about. The result, sometimes, is that they might not do anything. ”

In response,the Centre for Teaching and Learning is launching the Change One Thing challenge.

At the end of a workshop or a consultation, participants are invited to consider one thing they can commit to change in their teaching practice.

Change, Dr. Fostaty-Young points out, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be incremental.

“Something like this gives people license to be thoughtful about their teaching in a meaningful way, and do it one step at a time,” she says. “I think doing something like this means that people will really be thoughtful about it. They will have a look and say ‘Okay, if I am going to change one thing what’s the important thing that I change?’ and if they ask themselves that question every time they teach, they will have transformed their teaching in some way.”

Once they have implemented this change into their teaching practice, they might eventually consider another new idea or method, and so on.

“Where we would really like to get to, I think, is building a culture of change so that teaching becomes a continuous and evolutionary process,” Dr. Fostaty Young adds. “This type of renewal will have a positive impact on the quality of courses, eventually influencing program improvement. It’s a preliminary step in an incremental process.”

As part of the Change ONE Thing program, stickers (complete with the hashtag #ctlchallenge) are distributed to participants at CTL events. Meant as reminders of the power of incremental change, the stickers serve as conversation-starters – a way of inviting others to think about what small change they might make to their own teaching that might make a small but positive difference. Dr. Fostaty Young, who keeps her sticker on the cover of her laptop, encourages the Queen’s teaching community to share the changes they’re making through social media.

The changes don’t have to be big. For example, one instructor committed to include two Indigenous resources on their onQ page. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s a step toward decolonizing their course. Another instructor will introduce a 10-minute active learning episode into what was once a 90-minute lecture. That will change the focus of the class from teaching to learning.

Small changes, but they will have a ripple effect, Dr. Fostaty Young says, and pave the way toward developing  transformative learning experiences.

To learn more about the Change One Thing challenge, visit the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

Supporting career building in Student Affairs

Inaugural Careers in Student Affairs at Queen’s offers opportunity to network with staff members and learn more about the portfolio.

Student Affairs recently hosted its inaugural ‘Careers in Student Affairs at Queen’s’ event, attracting more than 70 staff and students. (Provided photo)

Student Affairs encompasses a vast array of units and services that help to engage students, support their unique needs and well-being, and help them prepare for future success. In order to provide these services, a wide range of roles and skill sets are required.

Recently, Student Affairs hosted its inaugural ‘Careers in Student Affairs at Queen’s’ event, to support current staff development and stimulate new recruitment. The event attracted over 70 staff and students, who spent the afternoon learning more about the portfolio and networking with current staff members.

“Student Affairs offers a wide range of career opportunities in a variety of fields,” says Ann Tierney, Vice Provost and Dean, Student Affairs. “We have a great team and are focused on providing professional development activities, such as this pilot event, to help staff see how they can build their careers and competencies. We’re also keen to support the next generation of Student Affairs professionals and are thrilled with the number of students who attended.”

Participants had the chance to hear from staff who discussed their career journeys in Student Affairs. Other topics included the benefits of collaborating across units, and the impact of participating in the recent Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Staff Team Learning Program, a pilot project that was developed by the Human Rights and Equity Office.

The event also reinforced the usefulness of the CACUSS (Canadian Association of College and University Student Services) Competency Framework – a set of competencies required for effectiveness in Student Affairs roles.

“It was interesting to learn about Student Affairs and how much work goes into promoting a positive student experience, from housing to athletics, to student wellness and much more,” says Rachel Purdy (Artsci’21). “I especially enjoyed the panel discussions surrounding diverse experiences, and the ways Student Affairs is working to foster a more inclusive working environment.”

Discount for ESU programs available for Queen’s faculty, staff and alumni

For more than 30 years, the Queen’s Enrichment Studies Unit (ESU) has been connecting students in grades 5-12 with challenging and inspiring academics while enriching their potential. 

“Providing an inclusive and unmatched mix of opportunities, ESU makes an unmistakable difference: nurturing curiosity, fostering development, and enriching the potential of all students,” says Jenn Pete, Associate Director, Housing and Ancillary Services. “Our programs offer enrichment for everyone – whether you are looking for something academically challenging or wanting to explore a topic you are curious about, there is something for you at ESU."

Students take unique academic workshops, live in residence, eat in dining halls and participate in engaging evening activities. There are a variety of course disciplines to choose from – everything from pathology and engineering to web development and medieval history. 

Camps are offered in May and August each year and registration opens on Dec. 2.

In addition, PA day programs are available during the school year for children in grades 1-4. 

Queen’s faculty, staff and alumni can now receive a 10 per cent discount on all ESU programs. To access this discount use the promo code QFAMILY when registering.

Find out more at the ESU website.


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