Guest contribution from Sarah Meyers
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have gone through post-secondary with the mindset that, as a professional student, it is my job to not only perform well in classes, but also to gain as much ‘work-related’ experience as possible. This was instilled in me as early as grade 8 - there are a lot of smart people out there, so you have to figure out a way to make yourself stand out. Well… easier said than done. Grad school, and other specialized fields such as law school, can be all-consuming. We spend our time in a highly competitive environment, which can often affect our ability to create genuine relationships with our peers and disconnect from the work demanded within our specialities.
So, how do you combat some of these issues? When I joined the Graduate College, I was met with some of the kindest people you will find at the University of Calgary. Due to the nature of the work at the Grad College, it tends to attract those people who want to have a positive impact on their communities. This means, by joining this group of scholars, you will be surrounding yourself with generous, highly innovative, smart future leaders in their fields of study. Instead of feeling like another added burden to my already packed schedule, events with the Grad College act as the well-needed break I need from the other work I’m doing. Moreover, surrounded by my peers, the Grad College facilitates a safe space to discuss any problems I may be having with school and allows me to practice various professional development skills without the potential for judgment. While I have decided to take on a leadership role within the College, it is important to know that this is not expected of our scholars. We simply want to encourage you to participate as much as you see fit. At the same time, we provide as much room and support as possible for any ideas you may have that create a positive impact on our city, our university, and our scholars.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. UCalgary Law’s JD students, past and present, agree that their experience as Grad College Scholars helps them in the ways I described. For example, Jesse Baker (UCalgary 2018 JD and current Regulatory, Environmental, and Indigenous Law Associate at Osler, Hoslin & Harcourt) says:
Being a Graduate College scholar during law school taught me how to discuss what I was learning (the law) with scholars studying other subject matters, to discuss the subject matters that they were learning, and to discuss intersections between the law and other subject matters. All of this has proved valuable in my current practice where I have to explain aspects of the law to professionals with non-legal backgrounds, to discuss other matters with experts from non-legal backgrounds, and to apply the law to expert evidence from other disciplines. Being a Graduate College scholar helped me to begin developing the necessary skills and network for this at a very early stage and has served me well in my practice.
Colleen Bonnyman (UCalgary 2020 JD and current Corporate Commercial Litigation Associate at McCarthy Tetrault) also adds:
As a practicing lawyer in these changing times, an important skill has been the ability to quickly learn and grasp new concepts in subject areas that may not be your expertise. My time with the Graduate College and subsequent interactions with diverse individuals from a range of faculties at University of Calgary helped me to develop and hone this skill. As a Grad Scholar, I continuously gained new knowledge from my discourse with other scholars and from the speaker events I attended. The Graduate College greatly contributed to my professional development prior to entering the practice of law, and continues to inform my professional development as a practicing lawyer now.
Some of your current UCalgary Law peers are also current Grad College Scholars, and two of them are Moot Times peeps! 3L Heidi J. T. Exner, 2L Jonah Secreti, and 1L Shakira Yazdani are all Scholars. They would be happy to tell you about their experiences over a cup of coffee, too! The inset photograph is from this July when the Moot Times brought together Grad College Scholars and law students to welcome Shakira to Canada. We had a great time, and we look forward to getting to know more of UCalgary’s future lawyers!
JOIN THE GRADUATE COLLEGE!
Become a Scholar with the Graduate College: Meet peers, network, practice professional development, and more!
Applications open September 1st, 2022. Please visit us at www.ucalgary.ca/gradcollege for more information!