The University of Winnipeg’s Pathway to Graduate Studies (P2GS) celebrated its milestone fifth year in May. Nine scholars and more than 20 faculty members participated in the four-week Faculty of Graduate Studies program from May 1 to 26.
Indigenous students are severely underrepresented in the science community. Programs like P2GS give Indigenous students an opportunity to see what they want to do for a career or future studies.
Launched in 2019, P2GS is a staple event on the University’s summer calendar and it has opened the door for dozens of Indigenous students to gain valuable research opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
UWinnipeg alumna Sharissa Neault returned to her alma mater to lead the program as its coordinator.
Neault, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology in 2022 and was also named Spring Convocation Valedictorian, says she loved coming back to UWinnipeg and that the University still “has her heart.”
“It was great to watch them (scholars) over the four weeks and see the progression of their relationships and how increasingly excited they were about their research projects,” she said. “My favourite part was seeing how passionate they became about the work, even if it was outside of their field of study.”
The experience, she added, made her realize how much she missed academia and she hopes to one day return as a professor.
Gaining meaningful research experience
Paige Gordon just finished the second year of her Bachelor of Science studies.
She spent the last four weeks working with Dr. Yannick Molgat-Seon, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Health, on his research into better understanding how the respiratory system responds to exercise and how this response is affected by biological factors, such as aging, sex, and chronic respiratory disease.
She says it’s important UWinnipeg continues to offer programming like P2GS and the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program for Indigenous students.
“Indigenous students are severely underrepresented in the science community,” Gordon said. “Programs like P2GS give Indigenous students an opportunity to see what they want to do for a career or future studies.”
Gordon plans on continuing to work with Dr. Molgat-Seon and says this experience helped convince her to change her three-year degree into a four-year honours degree.
She also hopes to attend medical school after she completes her undergraduate studies with the goal of one day becoming an ophthalmologist.
Fifth-year physics student Jessica Ducharme worked with Dr. Natalie Richer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Health, on her research project that uses electroencephalography to examine which brain areas are involved in balance and how their involvement changes with age.
“I really enjoyed the educational mornings. Those were very informative and I learned lots of things,” Ducharme said of P2GS. “I also enjoyed our cultural explorations.”
She says the P2GS changed her university experience, especially when it came to meeting her peers.
“If I had known about P2GS in my previous years, I feel as a student I would have made more connections,” she said. “It was great being able to meet so many people in different areas, because you get to learn lots of things from people like yourself.”
After Ducharme completes her Bachelor of Science degree, she plans on pursuing a Medical Radiological Technology diploma.
Her dream career is to become a radiation therapist and to help people battling cancer.
Learn more about UWinnipeg’s Pathway to Graduate Studies program.