The Year of New Realizations, Friends and Opportunities

Spring 2014

Maike Van Niekerk

Schulich Leader at Dalhousie University

Entering Dalhousie was like entering an entirely new world of opportunities! The university gave leadership a new meaning. Suddenly I was faced with hundreds of new societies, tons of new friends, and millions of new ideas. All of a sudden there were an infinite number of options, the hardest part of university was picking what to be involved in.

Dalhousie enabled me to continue to stay involved in clubs that incorporated my high school interests. Dalhousie offered me the opportunity to play in the Dalhousie Orchestra and Wind Symphony, therefore I was able to continue to play the instrument I loved and devoted much time to during high school! Furthermore, Halifax itself provided many volunteer options similar to the ones in my hometown that interested me. In Newfoundland, for example, I volunteered at a Community Center, and in Halifax I decided to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, enabling me to continue to interact with children that are going through difficult times.

More importantly, however, Dalhousie opened my eyes to an entirely new set of interests that I never realized that I had. Perhaps the greatest realization made this year was my love for neuroscience and psychology. Prior to university, I had never had the opportunity to take a single psychology or neuroscience course. However, as the first semester rolled around, I fell in love with the subject. Within weeks I found myself doing research with my psychology professor, maintaining a psychology website for the entire first year Dalhousie psychology class, and planning a future of doing a minor in neuroscience with my nursing degree. My sudden interest in neuroscience even began to creep its way into my extra-curricular activities. Upon reflecting on my year at Dalhousie, I quickly came to realize that much of my volunteerism involved mental illness, something linked to neuroscience. For example, I volunteered at a homeless shelter and with patients with addictions.

I am so thankful for everything that I have had the opportunity to take part in this year, and I realize none of this would have been possible without the Schulich scholarship. Every day I am beyond thankful for this scholarship and recognize that my intense involvement in the community and school at large is due to the huge financial relief the scholarship provided me with.

My first year was absolutely amazing and I hope next year’s Schulich leaders have the same experience!