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Meet Your 2020-2021 PISA President

Hey everyone. It’s Maia (writing my first ever blog post) and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about me: who I am as a person, what I’ve done with my time at Bishop’s, and my plans for the future!

I’m from Bedford, which is a town outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital. I’m a proud maritimer/bluenoser, and I grew up exactly how you would imagine someone from the East Coast growing up! I used to sail competitively, and I think I’ve spent more time on a boat than I have on land. I absolutely love the place I grew up, and I hope to move back there one day.

I came to Bishop’s right out of high school, thanks to an eager recruiter that was visiting my school’s university fair. At the time my heart was dead-set on going to Mount Allison, but once I visited the BU campus and spoke to some of the students and faculty, I changed my mind pretty quickly. It also helped that I had already spent time away from my family; when I was in junior high, I spent three months living in France with a host family, in order to fully immerse myself in the French language and culture. As a result, I’m pretty much fully bilingual, something that definitely comes in handy. Because of this trip, I wasn’t worried about moving away from my parents and coming to school that was an 11-hour drive away.

I was only 17 when I arrived at Bishop’s, and pretty timid. I wasn’t (and am still not) a big partier, so I was worried about whether or not I was going to be able to integrate myself into the community. But in my second week of class, a guy walked in to my Intro IR class and give a quick speech, telling us that if we were interested, there would be an info session later that day about the Jeux de Sciences Politique (JDSP), and that we should come and check it out. I was intrigued, so I showed up at the info session and got swept up in the excitement of the upper year students that had participated in JDSP the previous year, and, on a whim, I signed up! I got to travel to Ottawa and compete against 8 other schools from Ontario and Quebec, and the experience cemented my love for Bishop’s, and for the Major that I had chosen.

Since then, I immersed myself in the BU community, doing JDSP two years in a row, participating in the Model United Nations, working as both a Teaching Assistant and a Research Assistant, and applying for (and being chosen for!) the European Union Study Tour and Internship Program, which I am excited to attend in summer 2021. This department has given me so many incredible opportunities and has helped me grow so much as a person, and I’m so excited to be able to give back as PISA President.

I want to share a couple of tips that I have with you; some things that I’ve learned over my three years at Bishop’s:

1. Go to as many events as you possibly can. People and professors will remember your face, and you might meet some of your best friends at a POL trivia night or the Social Sciences Wine and Cheese.

2. Go to your professors’ office hours! I know everyone says this, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. Bishop’s is a small school, so often RA and TA jobs aren’t advertised; instead, profs approach students that they know. By going to their office hours you’re showing that you’re engaged, and this may help out a lot, either for career/employment opportunities, or even for asking for leniency on late assignments or asking for a personalized reference letter.

3. Take a religions class! (Especially one taught by Dr. Miller). Not only are REL courses incredibly interesting, by taking courses outside of your discipline, you will meet new people, be exposed to different types of teaching and learning, and learn some pretty neat things. I’m partial to REL206, titled “Apocalypse Then and Now” (yes that is a real title of a real course taught at a university). It was one of the most interesting courses I’ve taken, and Dr. Miller helped me to improve my essay writing, an essential skill for a POL major.

4. If there is a visiting speaker, attend. In my time at Bishop’s, I’ve gone to lectures/presentations from Robert Ford (ex-US Ambassador to Syria and Algeria), Thomas Mulcair, Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin, Lieutenant-Colonel Erik Deneau (serving in the Canadian peacekeeping mission in Mali), and Alexandre Carrette (head of the Political Affairs division of the UN Mission in Mali), among others. Each of these lectures was an incredible opportunity, and by going to them I learned so much about potential careers, about politics and international relations, and about the world as a whole.

Speaking of potential careers… that seems to be the question on everyone’s mind once you tell them that you’re majoring in Politics. “Are you going to be Prime Minister?”. Short answer: NO. My (very tentative) plan is to go to grad school once I graduate from Bishop’s, probably at Carleton’s school of Public Administration. Long-term, however, I have absolutely no idea. It’s probably too cliché to say that I want to do something that makes a difference, but it's true. Whether I want that difference to be for one individual, or for world peace, I have yet to figure that out. Hopefully, over the next year, I’ll get a slightly clearer picture.

Thanks for reading,


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