Media & Press

Broadened Perspective

1 July, 2014

Alexa McAdam

With the last days of July fading away, there is a little over a month before my fall semester at the University of Manitoba will begin. Looking back over the winter and spring I am overwhelmed by the opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow.

My winter semester was packed with courses geared more specifically to genetics; the degree I am working towards. A course in microbial genetics got me particularly excited for what a future in research could hold. In our labs we were challenged to design our own experiments to produce bacterial colonies of a desired genetic makeup. I really enjoyed the challenge of problem solving. In addition to my science courses I also took a class which looked at the impacts of diseases from an anthropological lens. Often, I get caught up the gritty microscopic details of diseases and lose sight of the people being affected. However this class broadened my perspective to see that developing a treatment is not the only thing needed to cure a disease; combating barriers such as poverty and social inequalities are also required.

After exams, I joined eight other students from the U of M and drove off to BC to participate in the Vancouver Urban Partnership (VUP). VUP is an immersive experience in the Downtown East Side (DTES) of Vancouver, where we lived for a month partnering with various organizations in the neighbourhood. It would take much more than a short blog post to share my experience in Vancouver. However, one of the most important things I’ve taken away from VUP is the power of being present. Though addictions, poverty and brokenness are common characters of the DTES, it is here I met some deeply genuine people. Each time I spoke with someone, our interaction was their priority. I feel challenged to be as present with people I interact with, especially when I think of other students on campus.

One woman I met in the DTES was so excited to hear about my studies. She marvelled at the potential I had to make a difference and work for change in this world. As I enter my 3rd year, I am more aware of the incredible opportunities that I’ve been blessed with and desire to be a good steward of these things.