Experiential learning office launched at gala

Students, faculty, community members and local businesses came together to celebrate the new office and to learn about the opportunities available this year

“Opportunity starts here and it starts today,” said Krista Steeves, the director of experiential learning, at the gala on Wednesday evening. The office of experiential learning and career development launched their new office and showcased a new course, Exploring Science-Based Businesses.

The second floor of the Student Centre was bustling with students, faculty, people from the community and local business members all celebrating the launch of the office. People had the chance to mingle and make connections while enjoying local food and drinks.

The experiential learning office will oversee experiential learning courses, field trips and SELF grants which will support students’ work placements and independent studies Louis Sobol/The Argosy

“Today is really a celebration of so much that has already been accomplished at Mount Allison and [our] recent development and partnership with the provincial government,” said Kim Meade, the VP of international and student affairs in a speech during the gala. “We’re really excited about the new office and the opportunities [the experiential program] will open up for our faculty, our staff and our students.”

The event provided a chance for people to learn about the new course, Exploring Science-Based Businesses in New Brunswick. In this course, groups of about twenty students form a team and come up with solutions to real-life problems that a local business might be facing. Steeves said that in some ways they act as consultants to local businesses that might not have the resources to come up with solutions to these problems on their own. At the end of the semester, students get to propose these solutions to the business.

“I think it’s a good way to connect people through education,” said Steeves. She also noted that she thinks it’s a great way for New Brunswick businesses to see the “wonderful” students that Mt. A has and how they fit into the workforce.

An upcoming bus tour of local businesses was introduced at the event. Steeves said that students in the course have the chance to go on this tour and get to see real-life businesses in New Brunswick. The bus tour has 50 spots and is open to all interested students. It will take place on Nov. 14 and 15, and students can sign up in mid-October when registration opens.

During the event, students who participated in an experiential course talked about their experiences. Ava Sturm, a fourth-year religious studies major and biology minor, spoke about her exchange to India and her internship at a partnering hospital. “It was absolutely incredible to be so immersed in a different culture,” she said. “It was really difficult but also really rewarding. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about how the world works and how different knowledge systems work.”

Another opportunity showcased at the event was the Student Experiential Learning Fund (SELF). This program was designed to help support an independent study or a work placement with a business. “I think we’re hopeful that this little pilot project will be the start of something really transformational and more faculty and more students will be interested in doing this type of thing,” said Steeves. She said that students should apply even if they don’t have an idea “fleshed out”; SELF is there to help students find out what opportunity makes sense for them.

Steeves said students should come by the office and ask questions about what’s available to them. She also urged students to talk to their professors: “Mount Allison is blessed with this incredible faculty that is already doing tremendous things in our community and abroad.”

“I would say go for it,” said Christine Gilroy, a Mt. A alum, when asked what she would say to a student thinking of doing an experiential course. “There are so many opportunities to learn more. Even if you figure out it might not be something you want to do, that’s still valuable.”

Sturm said, “It’s a really amazing opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone and address those areas where you should grow.”

To find out more about the bus tour and SELF, students can follow @mta_experientiallearning on Instagram, email the office’s intern Hannah Rose or drop by the office.

Laura Skinner
Laura Skinner is an English major, creative writing enthusiast, and an avid photographer. She spends most of her time talking about her Scottish heritage, attempting whichever sport interests her at the time (currently golf) and annoying her pets. She also fills up her free time by painting and going on runs.