Be you at BU: Make your purple mark

by Gemma Camara

Hi Gaiters! 

My name is Gemma and I’m originally from Montreal. Choosing Bishop’s University has been one of the best decisions I have made. From the moment I stepped foot on campus I fell in love with the beautiful architecture, and the welcoming sense of belonging the community provided. I initially chose Bishop’s because I wanted to study neuroscience and be a part of a smaller school, but it has turned out to be so much more.  

However, my transition to university was not smooth.  Firstly, university is different than CEGEP or high school. I would say that you are a lot more independent at university. I started taking a few independent classes at another university before coming to Bishop’s, and there, during my first year, I failed my first class ever! I had no clue what I was doing. Looking back, it all worked out; I transferred to Bishop’s (where I should have gone in the first place), I got a lot better at studying, and it was all a part of a long learning experience. What I appreciate most about my Bishop’s experience is the relationships. We have the opportunity to grow and get to know our professors and peers, which is something not all universities offer. One of my favourite campus moments occurred in my first year at BU. I arrived late for my first class (great start!), but I wasn’t alone. Another student arrived late as well, we looked at each other, laughed and proceeded to sit together, we’ve been close ever since. 

So far, my academic experience has been great. I am completing a research project and taking the final courses to complete this degree. I presented my research project currently titled “Specific Olfactory Deficits Associated with Cognitive Decline in Seniors” at the Neurodegenerative: Biology and Therapeutics (NDBT) conference virtually in December 2020. I have had the opportunity to work under two mentors Dr. Graham (Université de Sherbrooke) and Dr. Carrier (Bishop’s). I reached out to get involved in research my second year at BU, the opportunity has solidified everything I’ve learnt in neuroscience. If I had one piece of advice for a student interested in pursuing neuro or any discipline really, it would be to start research as early as possible. Whether it be participating in other’s research or embarking on a project of your own. Being involved helps filter through the many different facets of your discipline to learn which subjects you are most interested in. 

I am passionate about a few things such as learning and research. Outside of the classroom, advocating for the environment, sex education, and mental health is where you’ll find me. I have become extremely involved on campus. My first year, I joined many clubs and local volunteering opportunities however, I quickly reduced my involvement after first year as it was hard to balance my extracurricular activities and the demands of my academic program. My advice is to take things slowly as there are so many things to get involved in that you can quickly find yourself getting involved in too much. 

There are many opportunities and activities in our community for you to get involved in.  To give you a taste, here are some of the things I’ve been involved in over the past two years: 

  • Neuroscience peer mentor  
  • Implementation of hydroponic gardens on campus  
  • Environmental Sustainability Representative with the SRC 
  • Co-lead of the Environmental club for 2 years  
  • Co-lead of the Running club for 1 year 
  • Co-lead of Agrobishops for 1 year 
  • Safe Walk volunteer  
  • Jack.org mental health volunteer 
  • Mental Health Awareness Week volunteer 
  • Introduction of Xiuhtezcatl Martinez for the 2019-2020 Donald Lecture Series 

I love getting involved and supporting my peers by showing up and participating in their initiatives as well. Having people to support you and make time for the things you care for makes a little change in the person’s motivation to continue. Which leads to a small step towards a better community.  I know that you will all enjoy your Bishop’s experience.  I encourage you to take advantage of all this community has to offer but most importantly, I encourage you to leave it a little bit better than how you found it.  How will YOU make YOUR Purple Mark? 

Fun fact: I am planning to hike the Pacific Coast Trail – A six-month trek that begins at the USA-Mexican border and ends in Canada.  

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