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Jessica Maher, Applied Life Sciences student

Third year student Jessica Maher

Jessica Maher

Hometown: Tottenham, Ont.

Program: Applied Life Sciences

Year: 3

Why did you choose Lakehead-Georgian?

Having initially attended a big university for a semester coming out of high school, I was looking to switch to a smaller university, as I did not enjoy the learning environment of the large institution. I was also looking for somewhere that I could pursue my athletic endeavours alongside my academics in order to maintain balance in my life. With the opportunity to play varsity badminton for Georgian, and a knowledge of the small class sizes and community atmosphere of Lakehead, Lakehead-Georgian seemed like the perfect fit for me.

What made you pick the Applied Life Sciences program?

I was hoping to study science, but was unsure of exactly which branch of science I wished to pursue. I liked the combination of many types of biology and chemistry that I saw in the APLS program. I was fascinated when I saw the list of courses that I would be taking over the course of my four years in the program, and loved the idea of learning those subjects in a small class atmosphere with lots of hands-on lab work.

Student looking to front of class

Do you have any cool or memorable moments so far?

Definitely the cloning project that we did in Biomedical Laboratory Techniques II. In that lab-based class, we took part in a semester long project aimed to isolate a gene from thyme and parsley plants, clone it, and then send it off for DNA sequencing. Having the opportunity to do this as a second-year student is unheard of at most universities, and I was fascinated by the concept of the whole project. I find it pretty amazing that I was able to personally manipulate DNA and work with it in this manner, given that it is such an fundamental part of life as we know it. It was really empowering to be able to do this at such an early stage in my academic career, and inspiring to think of the many possibilities for future work building off of these concepts.

The other was the ability to design my own laboratory investigation in physiology class. With an interest in sports, my lab partner and I created an experiment to measure the activation of different calf muscles in an individual standing on a wobble board (a commonly used piece of gym equipment for the purpose of building the stabilizer muscles in the lower leg). Having devised the experimental setup and procedure ourselves, with little input from our instructors, I was amazed to watch the computer screen as my partner stood on the wobble board while hooked up to the EMG machinery. Seeing the observable activation of her muscles in a corresponding manner to how she moved was pretty crazy to me. Seeing such an intangible thing come to fruition through our experiment led me to realize my desire to get into research to similarly strive to explore things not apparent to the naked eye.

You play varsity Badminton for Georgian Grizzlies. What’s it like to be a varsity athlete?

Being a varsity athlete has been such a great experience. It’s given me the opportunity to meet so many new people and create lots of great memories. Looking back at the past two years, it’s the memories of being at the gym or being on the road for tournaments that stand out the most, and I’m sure they will continue to for a long time. Playing badminton has taught me so much. Not only has it helped me learn to manage my time, but it has also taught me to perform under pressure and thrive in a competitive atmosphere. Being a singles player, I have gained experience working independently, and also come to recognize the value of having a team there to support you, even during your individual pursuits.

As a varsity athlete, I have also been able to become more involved in the community through many coaching opportunities, as well as involvement in other events such as the annual Terry Fox Run. It is because of these many different facets, that I can say without a doubt that my postsecondary experience would be different without this involvement.

 

Jessica Maher playing badminton

How do you manage to keep the balance between school and sports?

Keeping the balance between school and sports was a major concern for me going into my first year. I have come to realize that I couldn’t imagine going through school without an outlet like sports to keep me in balance. After a busy day of studying, assignments or tests, it’s great to be able to go to the gym and play badminton with my teammates, or take part in a varsity workout, because it allows me to clear my head and refocus. After this time spent in the gym, it’s always easier to go home and finish my homework or studying for the next day. I enjoy playing, but I also enjoying what I’m learning in school, so balancing the two just comes naturally. With ambitious goals in both areas, I am always driven to get out of bed in the morning for an early workout or stay up after practice to finish an assignment. I’ve always loved being busy and getting involved; it’s this involvement and the craziness of school and sports together that really helps me thrive.

 

Group of students stuyding