Transferring Faculties… and Changing Your Life!

I always thought I knew what I wanted to study in university and what career path I wanted to follow after my studies. BSc in Neuroscience or BA/Sc in Cognitive Science, followed by med school and a promise of steady income for the next 50 years. I dedicated my time to researching the smallest details, even reclaiming my Québec residency to increase my chances of acceptance into medical school.

After one year at McGill, everything changed for me. I realized that I could not follow a curriculum filled with rote memorization and that I had a surprising knack for mathematics. For women in STEM, it’s not abnormal to receive little or no support from teachers and other members of authority when we show interest in maths and sciences. I never studied physics in high school in fear of receiving a bad grade because I was intimidated by my overachieving male counterparts. Instead, I took French and environment studies amongst other courses… one of them being calculus.

I was good at calculus in high school and I received a lot of praise for it: “Wow, I can’t believe you can solve this problem!” The flow of compliments always ended in a comparison between me and the male student with the highest grade. This changed at McGill because, for the first time, I was surrounded by hundreds of other female freshmen students pursuing the same degree as me. We bonded over online homework and studied together at FrezCa (Mon-Thurs at 14:30-16:30 in the RVC caf, free U0 Science/Eng help!) while eating munchies from the cafeteria.

Soon, I began to investigate the design teams offered at McGill: Chem-e car, Formula Electric, Concrete Canoe, Robotics, Baja… they were incredibly fascinating and I admired the team support within each group. I explored the different majors available to me for U1 and met with my SOUSA advisor multiple times throughout the year. I kept switching between Neuroscience, Biol/Comp, Quant. Bio, and a few others.

That’s when I realized I didn’t want to study life science anymore. Sure, I enjoyed certain aspects of biology and organic chemistry, but in the end, I was more interested in materials, mechanics, and mathematics. I started my journey towards engineering that day, applying to transfer as soon as the application opened on Minerva. I studied really hard for the second semester so that I could achieve a GPA high enough to make the cut.

Now, I’m a bioengineering student (part of McGill’s newest department!) involved in a design team and I am much happier. I am surrounded by peers who are interested in the same subjects and by upper-years that are supportive and helpful. My advice to new students would be to keep your options open and to not be afraid to pursue something new!

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