Trent Grad Wins Mensa Canada Scholarship
Melissa Van Bussel has always liked (and been good at) math. And, since the age of four, she’s wanted to be a teacher. But the recent winner of a 2019 Mensa Canada Scholarship didn’t know where her passions would take her until she came to Trent.
“I credit all of my success to going to Trent and having a small university experience,” says Ms. Van Bussel, who graduated with a joint degree in Mathematics and Computing Systems. “The individualized learning experience and the opportunity to get to know my professors and classmates on a personal level made all the difference to me.”
The Mensa scholarship of $2,000, granted for her essay outlining her career goals, is a marker of how Trent helped her discover the area of mathematics she was most interested in: statistics. She recognizes Trent’s Dr. Wesley Burr with inspiring her love of stats. Not only was he her supervisor for two undergraduate student research awards (and a number of research projects), he was also a mentor who she says goes “above and beyond” when it comes to helping students. And her decision to hone in on stats was inspired by attending a statistics conference with Professor Burr.
“I got to see the kinds of research that grad students and professors were doing. I realized from that conference that studying statistics allows you to study any area of research that you’re interested in, since statistics is very interdisciplinary. If there’s a topic you’re passionate about you can almost certainly find some kind of statistical research in that area.”
Ms. Van Bussel, now doing her Masters of Science in Statistics, laid the groundwork for her postgrad in part through research at Trent in areas as diverse as statistical analyses on multiple choice testing, and statistical analyses of TED talks. Currently, her interests lie in the areas of health or environmental research, but ultimately what’s most important to her is to do something that will “make a difference in the world.” She sees that possibility existing in a combination of teaching and research, and hopes to become a professor herself one day. She’s quick to note that teaching back at her alma mater would be her “dream job.”
“Being a professor would be the perfect combination between being able to teach and make an impact on people’s lives through teaching, and also being able to make an impact on the world around me through research.”
Posted on November 13, 2019