Make the Most of Your Degree

Me at the Toronto Airport, getting ready for an adventure

Me at the Toronto Airport, getting ready for an adventure

University is all about learning and personal growth. I believe that it is vital that you as a student take full advantage of your degree and your learning experience.

I was fortunate to participate in a 2-week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in South America that was organized by the Nipissing University Biology Department with EF Tours. It came with the option to have it count as a 3-credit spring course, which I decided to register for, along with six other students.

A marine iguana

A marine iguana

This was the perfect opportunity for me to make the most of my degree here at Nipissing. The Galapagos Islands are at the forefront of the study of biology. This was the site where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, which has been mentioned at least once in every year of my studies at Nipissing, whether in my textbooks or by my professors. Nipissing even offers a course called Evolution. The islands give the opportunity to see animals found nowhere else on Earth including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies (a type of seabird) and marine iguanas, the latter, which I was most excited to see. After the trip, we were asked to hand in a “Naturalist Journal”, as well as write a paper about a conservation issue concerning the Galapagos Islands.

A Galapagos penguin

A Galapagos penguin

I had many goals for myself while on this trip. One of them was to expand my knowledge of biology through learning from the naturalists on the islands. I also hoped that I might be introduced to new fields of study and topics that interest me. I was planning on stepping outside my comfort zone, and try new things – including eating guinea pig, which is a common meal in Ecuador. Finally, I was planning on getting to know my professors on more of a personal level, outside of the classroom. Of the forty participants this trip, seven were my professors/lab instructors/lab technicians, which I was very excited about.

I encourage any student who has an opportunity like this to consider using it to apply their degree. Even if it is not a trip similar to this in magnitude, try to explore opportunities outside your classroom, outside the Nipissing community. Put yourself out there; opportunities like this are a great addition to a transcript or Record of Student Development, as well as a powerful means of student learning and development.

– Vincent Evans-Lucy