Nothing But the B.E.S.T.: Experiential Learning at Bishop’s

Bishop’s University offers experiential learning opportunities for students who wish to learn outside the classroom walls. One such opportunity is the B.E.S.T. Project Fund. This unique fund is intended to assist students to determine their career paths and realize their ambitions. Jacob Gerlofs, a 3rd Year Neuroscience and Psychology Major, is a past recipient of the fund. He tells us his experience and the value of experiential learning.

#Ubishops student Jacob Gerlofs

My friends are always saying, “I wish I could find a job that actually helps my career,” or “If only I could get a good internship,” or “I really want to experience more of the world.” In my mind, all of those opportunities are out there, you just have to reach out and take it. I have found that a little ambition goes a long way. This is especially true at Bishop’s. Bishop’s is the type of school that empowers each student to accomplish anything they want to accomplish. For me, the BU experience can be summarized in one word: opportunity.

This mindset began my mission to find an experiential opportunity that would help me develop the skills I need to further my career. As someone majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology, one of the best ways to do this is with a summer research internship. I spent a lot of time sending emails to different research institutes that met my research interests before eventually connecting with a laboratory supervisor at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Institute in Lyon, France. It was the perfect opportunity, but I had to figure out how I could make this project feasible.

The Bishop’s Exceptional Student Talent Fund is a specialty fund given to students every year in order to support career projects that require financing to complete; students can receive up to $7000 in funding for their projects. One of the great things about this fund is its flexibility. Any student from any program can use the fund for any project that will help them develop and further their career.

Previous recipients included a Music student who interned at a Montreal based recording studio, a Classics student who completed an intensive mosaics course in Italy, and a Business student who developed a social media platform to connect students and alumni.

The B.E.S.T. Project Fund was definitely the solution I was looking for. I had a lot of support from faculty and peers in my application, and received the funding I needed to complete my project. I spent my entire summer interning at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, within the Integrative Physiology of Brain Arousal Systems Lab Team. The lab team investigates how the histaminergic and orexinergic neural systems influences sleep-wake cycles. Essentially, their research is helping to better understand the brain functions behind sleeping, wakefulness, and alertness. I had the privilege to work with mouse models, taking a neurobiological research approach.

This is something I had never been exposed to before; everything was an entirely new learning experience. All of the expertise I gained were practical laboratory skills that I will use in future projects, as I plan to continue with neuroscience research in graduate school after Bishop’s.

The value of having this immersive and hands-on experience is immeasurable. In today’s competitive job market, experience is essential. I understand my internship in France will look impressive on a resume, but much more importantly, I have practical training to apply to any research I’m involved in. Not all undergraduates can say they have the same experience and expertise. Undoubtedly, this experiential learning opportunity would not have come to fruition without the support of Bishop’s University through the BEST Fund. The fund truly is a fantastic opportunity, and I encourage every student to find their own project. It’s one of many ways Bishop’s genuinely offers a superior education, and empowers their students to develop themselves. And so I leave you with one question, what opportunities will you create at BU?

 

To learn more about the B.E.S.T. Project Fund, visit http://www.ubishops.ca/future-current-students/money-matters/scholarships-awards-bursaries/b-e-s-t-project-fund/

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