Yale University’s Young Global Scholar Program & Planning for Instructing

The image contains a letter of admissions.
It is truly an honor to receive this letter of admission. The image has been altered to conceal confidential information.

I am honored to write that I have been offered a position as an instructor of Biology and Applied Science at Yale’ university’s Young Global Scholar Program. This incredible program located at Yale University hosts students and instructors from across the globe and focuses on providing lessons and seminars on a variety of interdisciplinary subjects. With three different sessions running throughout the summer, YYGS offers programs in Applied Science and Engineering, Biological and Biomedical Science, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture, Politics, Law, and Economics, as well as on Solving Global Challenges. Covering such an extensive array of fields, students from all academic backgrounds receive an immersive program curated for expanding and relating to current knowledge as well as introducing new subjects.

Having the opportunity to work as an instructor, I am excited to empower students by providing them with tools to make a proactive change in currently trending subjects within the field. This program is truly novelle and ahead of the curve by supporting instructors and providing them with the freedom to research and develop seminars and lessons on what we believe will captivate and engross the students. So far, I have developed a seminar on combating the misconceptions of natural selection & evolution, as well as on the implications of biodiversity loss and plant invasion on ecosystems. Having worked in a lab and done extensive research on restoration ecology, I believe that introducing students to the repercussions of plant invasion on the environment will contribute to early intervention and ecosystem preservation.

Students need to be supported by teachers. Curating engaging lessons while gauging their learning as the lesson goes on is essential to students’ success. I have previously discussed how important it is to include teaching that includes different forms of learning (for auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc. learners), and I think that the line does not stop there. Often times, students with different forms of disabilities are not accounted for in lesson preparation and feel discouraged. I believe that as an instructor, it is fully my responsibility to embrace a pedagogy that assists students by curating accessible lessons. By reading and incorporating the information from Yale University’s links, I am attempting to create lessons that are accessible to the diversity of students that I will be teaching. If you know of any other website or link that can help me provide engaging and accessible seminars and lessons, please share them with me as I am eager to read them!

Academia was not always an easy path for me, but it was certainly lightened by the incredible teachers, professors, mentors, lab members, and teaching assistants that I met along the way. Just as I was assisted by my many instructors, I too hope to support and guide my students through their academic journeys in a way that allows them to access their true potential.

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Revisiting York University’s Experiential Education Symposium & Panel

A brief overview of our panel discussion and my perspective on why we must incorporate a variety of teaching styles for student success, as well as the critical role of experiential education in solidifying in-class learning.

5 people sitting at a table, four of which are panelists. The individual in the middle is holding a microphone.

Recently, I had the honor of speaking on a panel at York University’s annual Experiential Education symposium. Among the high profile attendees was York University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, as well as chair and faculty members of various departments, accomplished students presenting various educational experiences, and the remarkable EE symposium team who all worked tirelessly to plan and execute such a successful event.

5 people are sitting at a table, 4 of which are panelists. The person from on the left is holding a microphone.
Four objects on a table. left to right the objects are a box with a pen attached to it, a certificate of recognition, and a microphone.

Do students currently receive the support they require?

As a recent graduate, it was a truly incredible opportunity to advocate the need for teachers and professors to enhance students’ learning by curating engaging lessons that incorporate the 7 different learning styles. When asked about the importance of reflective assignments, I spoke on why it is crucial and urgent for university faculty to address students’ needs for different types of teaching and assessment. Simply sticking to one form of teaching such as visual or verbal, or assessments strategies such as tests or assignments often leads to failure by some of the most talented and hard-working students. It is truly disheartening to witness brilliant students give up on their passions because the teacher or professor did not incorporate their optimal learning or assessment style. During this panel, I reinforced the importance of accounting for all students, accommodating for different needs, and utilizing different forms of teaching and assessment styles for inclusivity and student success.  I believe that the Professors, faculty, and staff at York University are progressive in this respect, and it is inspiring to see them include a variety of mediums while teaching, which I was privileged to experience during my undergraduate studies.

5 people are sitting at a table, 4 of which are panelists. The second person from the left is holding a microphone.

The relevance of experiential education

Speaking on a panel alongside a moderator, a current student, and two members of faculty, we discussed the importance of experiential education. As we reflected on our personal experiences in experiential education, I began to realize just how much external opportunities such as research placements, internships, co-ops, or volunteering truly reinforces classroom taught concepts and aids students with making a connection in the real-life application of these subjects. 

How often were you learning in a class wondering “when am I EVER going to use this?”. Until a concept or subject is related to current trends or explored in real-life applications, students may find themselves struggling with relating to a subject and in turn failing to find interest in it. True learning starts when interests are addressed. By giving opportunities and encouraging students to embark on experiential education, ideas and concepts are reinforced and students become empowered to make proactive changes in the real world. A subject taught on its own can be challenging to relate to, but when current trends and applications are discussed in the classroom, followed by hands on learning experiences outside of the classroom, students can master the most complex of fields. 

Giving students a chance

The search for opportunities is hard – especially if you are a student. Due to the often untrue negative connotations associated with students, professors, labs, organizations, and other areas that offer experience may refrain from accepting students. To me, this seems like a backward mindset – if someone is putting their time and effort to learn and educate themselves, wouldn’t you want them and their eager attitude on your team? I think it’s time to stand up for students and give them a chance. This is a two-way approach; students need to take on opportunities by deciding to embark on experiential education, while professors, teachers, employers, and co-op/volunteer coordinators need to take a chance on students and guide them to learning while assisting your organization. Students are eager to learn and improve, and their lack of experience can be overcome with their ability to learn while providing an innovative view of the subject and its relation to current trends.
In ecology, it sometimes occurs that two (or more) organisms both gain a net benefit from their interaction; this is called mutualism. Now is the time to take a chance on students, and witness how you both develop a successful mutualistic relationship by working together. 

Closing remarks
I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in planning and executing this event as well as all attendees. I appreciate and value York University’s faculty, staff, and students for allowing us to discuss our opinions on these subjects. I would like to also thank everyone for being so receptive to these insights and am open and appreciative of any and all critique and feedback.

For more information on the event:
News article by York University on the symposium
Tweet by York University

Credits: All photos of the panel are by York University C&PA

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Discovering Ourselves – Why is Self-fulfillment Important?

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to run a joint self-fulfillment workshop and culinary masterclass to a group of students and young professionals part of Aish HaTorah.

Speaking to an incredible group of young professionals. Thank you to all attendees for your overwhelming support!
It was thrilling getting to lead a baking masterclass after the talk. Somewhat a simultaneous play on words and on the pallet to follow a self-fulfillment class on a sweet note.

Giving a class to these incredible individuals on such a critical topic was truly an exhilarating experience. In a culture where social media plays an exponentially increasing influential role, comparison to other people and their lives can lead to feelings of unfulfillment and allows self-doubt to take over.

What is self-fulfillment?

Self-fulfillment stems from finding a balance, neither mania or depression, but rather a grounded state where we are comfortable with who we are, accepting ourselves, our strengths, as well as recognize our opportunities to improve. When we are fulfilled we set realistic goals that are important to us, celebrating our accomplishments while being able to give ourselves critique to assist self-growth.

So how do we reach fulfillment?

The task to reach self-fulfillment is not a simple one – it does not actualize overnight.  There are several categories that one must address:

  1. A lifetime VS. a snippet

Everything in our life must end, and to each individual, there is only one thing that is eternal; ourselves. Everyone else that enters our life is temporary, and whether it is a long temporary or a short one, their presence in our lives must one day cease (this too shall pass). If everyone who enters our lives is temporary, why would we not always value the eternal opinion? Everything must end, but our relationship with ourselves is permanent. For this reason, I believe that it is crucial for us to put our own opinion of ourselves above all others. 

2. Speaking to ourselves or speaking to a loved one; what’s the difference?

It seems almost ingrained in some individuals to speak much more critically to ourselves than to those we care about. Is this not an urgent issue that we must address? If we are spending our lifetimes with ourselves, wouldn’t we want to speak in the most supportive, understanding, and motivational way in order to accomplish the greatness we are capable of? When we speak to ourselves, the tone we use directly correlates to our opinion of ourselves and subsequently what we believe we can accomplish. If we desire to reach our goals, it is essential to believe in ourselves and our abilities to reach them. Therefore, we must learn to speak with ourselves the way we would with a good friend or loved one; with support, understanding, and patience. Self-fulfillment means that we increase our positive affirmations and daily gratitudes while avoiding self-devaluation, negative self-thoughts, or settling for less. 

3. Progress

We differ from artificial intelligence because we take the time to learn or finish tasks, it’s what makes us human. Every journey and task that we embark on requires a certain level of time and effort that varies by difficulty. When setting goals, we are eager to see instant results. It is essential to remember that we are en route to success and that it comes in parts. Success rarely comes altogether; Rome wasn’t built overnight. It can be easy to give up in the middle or just prior to accomplishing our goals. Self-fulfillment comes when we are able to accept that progress can differ throughout stages. Whether rapid or slow, progress means that we are on track and we must celebrate our accomplishments at different stages. We must avoid delegitimizing or invalidating our progress because we compare ourselves to others who seemingly display faster or greater progress. Comparison is the root of feelings of inadequacy and allows the intruder effect to take over, responsible for making us feel like we don’t belong or underqualified. We are fulfilled when we are aware that our progress is valid and leading us to our goals, and when we can give ourselves positive feedback to ensure or increase future progress, without comparing it to anyone else but ourselves.

4. Actions and goals

We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. Just as it is important to be proud of our accomplishments and strive towards our goal, it is equally important to remember that other people are also on a journey, and many haven’t reached their peak just yet. While we consider our own reasoning and purpose for certain actions, we often take note of the direct actions of others without concern for their venture. Proper self-critique and an understanding, empathetic, outlook can guide us on becoming the best version of ourselves while assisting others to reach their version of self-actualization. We are a pack animal; we yearn for the support from others. The saying “don’t look into someone else’s bowl unless you are checking if they have enough” goes both ways; don’t look to compare your life to theirs. The success they have reached or accomplishments they have fulfilled came with consequences, difficulties, struggles, and work that we may be completely unaware of. We are also on the way to success just as they once were. Similarly, we must be empathetic and supportive of them and their journey. If they are not as successful or accomplished as we believe they should be, we once again must acknowledge that everyone is going through an intensive journey, and we may not be aware of the struggles they have faced. Providing understanding, empathy, and support will assist them with reaching the greatness that they are capable of. It is important to keep in mind the difficulties others go through and to never assume or judge to conclusions on the abilities or disabilities someone has. It is also not our place to determine this for someone else. Self-fulfillment comes when we focus on being the best version of ourselves while supporting others on their personal path.  

Self-fulfillment allows us to reach and surpass our goals and dreams. You deserve fulfillment. Everyone is on a unique path, and changing our inner voice to one that is supportive and encouraging can propel us to our goals.

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Why startup experiences & hackathons are important for students

Recently, I worked with the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST Lab) at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering to plan and organize Canada’s largest startup.

Over several weeks, I communicated with and invited top-tier speakers, mentors, and workshop leaders to ensure an incredible learning experience for students. Between guaranteeing that scheduling lines up, confirming that partners present applicable educational content, and securing proper accommodations for all attendees, I had a wide variety of tasks to make certain that I properly organization and coordinate this event. Fortunately, I worked with an incredible team that provided unimaginable support and helped me manage the planning. Thanks to their support and guidance, this event was a massive success, with attendees giving incredible positive feedback.

I am grateful to everyone from the BEST Lab at the Lassonde School of Engineering as well as all of the speakers, mentors, workshop leaders, and student attendees for all of the assistance and guidance with curating the schedule for this event.

Events such as these are absolutely crucial to students not only developing essential teamwork and entrepreneurial skills but also creating highly valuable connections. Whether it’s meeting other students or high profile leaders, building your network opens doors to opportunities you didn’t know existed. Jobs, volunteer opportunities, or co-op placements can all come through with these powerful connections in unexpected ways. Not only are these connections important for discovering opportunities, but discussing life and career paths/journies that someone experienced took can give valuable insight and advantageous life advice.

It was exceptionally inspiring to have the chance to address a large audience of such motivated and driven students and seeing how much effort they put in obtaining an optimal learning experience.

Learning comes through a widespread of mediums, and startup/hackathon weekends are incredible events that provide indispensable skills for students. When experienced individuals who are in the workforce mentorship or lectures to students, they provide not just advice but personal experience. Advice and guidance can be read and discovered from books or media, but advice coming from real experience can shine a light on critical points that other mediums negate.

Whether attending a startup/hackathon weekend, attending a conference, or even just participating in networking events, hearing about the academic and professional journies of different people can spark inspiration and guidance on pathways we may have not previously considered. So if you meet someone who inspires you, offer to buy them a coffee and ask them what advice they wish someone gave them at the start of their career – the answer may revolutionize your path.

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