Students in STEM programs thrive at Grebel

January 27, 2016 | Focus On Education | Volume 20 Issue 3
Jennifer Konkle, Conrad Grebel University College

Conrad Grebel University College is home to a diverse mix of students studying in all six faculties at the University of Waterloo (UofW) in Ontario. In partnership with UofW, Grebel aims to boost female student participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) programs, thereby increasing the potential for future female leaders. Grebel is well-positioned to support students in these traditionally male-dominated disciplines.

While attending university, many students are pleased to have space at Grebel to grow their faith through chapel services, Bible studies and service trips.

“I’ve found God in unexpected places,” says Amanda Enns of Leamington, Ont. “I’ve felt God’s presence during impromptu worship jam sessions with friends, in the kindness and generosity of others, and outside, especially walking to class in all of this beautiful snow.”

“What drew me to Grebel was its peaceful and community-oriented atmosphere,” says Charly Phillips, a first-year biomedical engineering student. “I think it’s important to surround yourself with a diverse crowd of people, especially if you’re in engineering, since we need to cross inter-disciplinary boundaries.”

Defying the trend of a 75-percent male program, Katrina Sikkens chose to study nanotechnology engineering because of the program’s co-op job opportunities and reputation. “I really enjoy nanotechnology because of the small classes and the broad range of subjects taught,” she says. “It has smaller class sizes with the opportunity to get to know your classmates.” And when looking for a place to live on campus, it was the welcoming community at Grebel that first piqued her interest.

Over her four years of school, Sonya Dyck of Milverton, Ont. has held several leadership positions, most notably Orientation Week leader and don. “Each September I’m so excited to meet a new group of students who will fill the halls with laughter and fun.”

As a biomedical science student, Dyck has pushed her comfort zone by taking courses that sounded daunting, like molecular biology. As she prepares for her next step after graduation, she is applying to become a nurse practitioner.

“At Grebel, we are committed to caring for the physical, social, emotional and academic needs of our students,” says Mary Brubaker-Zehr, director of student services. “STEM students thrive in our environment because they readily find the right balance between hard, disciplined, focussed study and nurturing their emotional, physical and social needs.”

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