Looking to the stars

Winter 2012

Claire Preston

Schulich Leader at McMaster University

Libra is my Zodiac sign, the constellation visualized as weighing scales. Oftentimes it serves to remind me of the importance of balance in the complex workings of nature, the continuation of the world as we know it, and daily life.

In high school, I found my balance between school, community, and personal pursuits. Leaving my home 3000 kilometres behind for university has disrupted that previous sense of stability. For the first time in my life, I was going to be alone, far from home, and I had no idea what university would throw at me.

But I found a new home in my residence. Mac's Welcome Week not only served to infect a crowd of young strangers with school spirit, but to bring them into the warm embrace of the Mac community as friends. I get to speak with so many fascinating people everyday, including Rami, the other McMaster Schulich Leader, who lives downstairs from me in Mac's 'Global Perspectives' community, that I cannot possibly feel alone. The atmosphere at Mac is great. Everyone I've met has been friendly and eager to help, and everyone holds doors.

Clubs, events, involvement opportunities and friends, in addition to coursework, all jockey for space in my timetable. So far I have become involved in the inter-residence council and designing residence clothing. Though I know little about electronics, I am eager to learn and hope to later get involved in the school's solar-powered car project. I also am intrigued by the potential for undergraduate research in science. Despite how busy my life has become, I still find time to play piano, and hope to join the chamber orchestra next year. Finding various opportunities for involvement in addition to courses I feel could teach me skills, help build my network, and possibly give me ideas and the ability to have an impact on the future.

Whether it involves the behaviour of electrons, logarithms or star formation, I continue to find out more about the weird behaviour of our universe in my courses. Building on high school concepts, we are delving deeper into how and why things work. As my interest increases, so does the feeling that I want to know and discover more.

I am slowly adjusting to a balance in this new environment, inspired by the innovation, learning and activity going on around me. With the great honour of being selected a Schulich Leader, from high school I have just moved on to a bigger place with more opportunities of which I plan to take full advantage.

In the planetarium a few weeks ago we looked at a map of the Hamilton night sky. The next night I was outside observing the same sky, the universe so huge and unknown. I have no idea what will happen in my life. Looking up at the endless ocean of stars that are unfathomably far away reminds me just how small we are, but for some reason it also makes me feel that anything is possible.