Learning from McGill’s Public Talks

Source: Owen Egan/McGill News/Alumni Magazine/2013

When you go to a large university with a lot of students, faculty, and staff, there’s often a lot going on both on and around campus and you may not always know about all that’s happening. For me, one of these was the variety of public lectures available. For one of my classes this term, students were handed a list of lectures pertaining to the class and given the task of attending several public talks over the course of the semester. Going to these conferences turned out to be very enriching and eye-opening. In fact, there is a lot that you can learn and find out from the speakers and their presentations, especially regarding your studies and what you’d like to do in the future.

The speakers are all very enthusiastic about their research, studies, and new discoveries in their field. Most of them are also very well-spoken and successful at effectively communicating complex information to the general audience. One of the lectures I went to focused on radio waves, which I was able to understand despite not being a physics student, and older children attending the talk were able to follow along as well. It can be hard to see why a certain topic is interesting or why it’s worth your time to pay attention to, but after going to so many of these presentations by experts in the field and witnessing their passion come alive, you become fascinated by the things you never thought you would be attentive to.

Additionally, I’m sure I’m not the only one to have wondered when I would ever need to use something I was learning in class, but the real-world applications presented in the talks clearly demonstrate how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together so that as a professional, you have all the skills you need to work in and contribute to your field.

Finally, it definitely gave me a better idea of what’s out there, beyond what is read in textbooks, the theories that have to be memorized, and the math problems to solve. As an undergraduate student, it’s encouraging to see what will be available to me after my studies and the different places my interests can take me. For example, if you’re interested in health science, there’s more than becoming a doctor, nurse, or laboratory technologist – you can also be physical therapist, pharmacy technician, speech-language pathologist, or epidemiologist, among others. The research opportunities and careers are endless, and the more I attended public lectures, conferences, and symposiums, the more I began to see that.

I highly recommend attending some of these yourselves. They are extremely valuable especially if you’re not entirely sure what you’ll be doing after graduation. If it’s something you’d be interested in, the McGill in the Community page shows all the events which you can sort by category or type.

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