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Vol 40  No 9
January 31, 2008


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Student View




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Student View

By Jillian Terry

‘Real world’ role models

As a full-time university student who, for eight months of the year, is immersed in books, assignments, papers and exams, it’s easy to forget about the world existing outside Memorial. Within the confines of classrooms, labs and libraries, remembering what people actually do with their university educations is a low-priority task buried under a never-ending list of upcoming tests and projects needing our attention. This virtual bubble of post-secondary life can become almost second nature to those living in it, which is exactly why there is such a need for community professionals and experts in their field to visit the university.

While professors and instructors serve as a great example for those students wishing to continue on into the world of academia for their careers, the importance of seeing the successes (and, inevitably, struggles) of individuals heading into other areas of the arts, sciences and business to earn a living can open our eyes to the opportunities as well as the realities of the 21st century job market. More importantly, seeing how far an industry authority has come since walking the halls of our (or another) university can give students a role model to look at, even if they’re not particularly interested in an identical field of study.

Take, for example, Memorial’s writer-in-residence program. Facilitated by the Faculty of Arts and Department of English Language and Literature, the program allows an accomplished writer to stake out an office at the university each semester and open their doors (and ears) to hopeful wordsmiths in the community. While continuing to work on their own writing projects, these poets, playwrights and novelists (like this semester’s Michael Crummey) are encouraging students and others to follow their passion for writing simply by being on-campus.

Newfoundland and Labrador is bursting at the seams with talented individuals from all career paths and fields, and they can be an invaluable resource for Memorial’s student and faculty population.

Guest lectures, roundtable talks, and panel discussions like the one held here in late January as part of the Canadian Political Science Students’ Association annual conference are other ways that the essential connection can be made between the unique post-secondary setting and the “real world.” Bringing together fiery personalities like newly-appointed Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie and Independent Editor Ryan Cleary, two men clearly passionate about their careers, is often controversial, heated, and at the very least, a stimulating lesson for students. Steering off the well-traveled path of lectures, readings, and lab write-ups by engaging with others outside the university community can open the eyes of instructors and students alike to the opportunities offered in the various fields being studied in Memorial classrooms.

Whether it’s one-on-one in an office setting or a question and answer session during class time, as a student, the enormous benefits of being able to see the tangible result of the investment we’ve put into our educations can come as quite a surprise. Not only does interacting with professionals and experts improve the important relationship between the university and the local community, it can also foster future business partnerships. Being exposed to someone doing exactly what you hope to be doing in five years is encouraging for the future and, perhaps equally as importantly, can make you some money in the short-term, if you’re looking for an internship or work term in your field.

I, for one, am advocating for more opportunities at the university to meet with and learn from some of the many industry professionals that this city and province has to offer. Memorial alumni and beyond, there are hundreds of successful men and women in our community using their educations to advance technology, add to our culture, and change the world. Using them as an educational tool is a low to no cost way to teach students about the advantages of holding a university degree by showing us exactly how it’s done. That way, the so-called “real world” outside the borders of our campus doesn’t seem quite so daunting from the inside.

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