Creating Community In and Outside the Classroom
From conducting research alongside one of their favourite professors to getting involved in campus life through rock climbing, pottery, the Trent Outdoors Club, and dance – Jazmine Raine made the most of their time at Trent and is now enjoying the benefits as the recipient of a prestigious Ontario Graduate Scholarship for their Master’s Studies.
“For the first time, I didn't feel like I had to choose. I didn't feel pigeon holed,” Jazmine explains. “Dr. Changfoot’s research is so free in its interdisciplinary nature. She also gives you the opportunity to conduct your work in partnership, which is so valuable. This is the whole reason why I wanted to be in school – to contribute to the communities around me.”
Jazmine, who recently graduated with a B.A. Honours in Political Studies with an Option in Indigenous Reconciliation & Resurgence from Trent, worked as a research assistant alongside Professor Nadine Changfoot, who inspired them with her robust interdisciplinary research interests.
“Providing students with the opportunity to work closely with me on my research and mentorship is important to help them see how critical thinking (e.g. involving close reading, analysis, interpretation, expression of significance), assignment skills, knowledge imparted in class as well as their own life experience relate to the creation of new knowledge for a bigger, more complex research project,” says Prof. Changfoot. “It also helps them experience, develop and practice professional skills in an active, dynamic, fluid research environment.”
Together, Jazmine and Prof. Changfoot co-authored a research paper titled “Indigenous Resurgence and Refusals: Anishinaabe Kwey e/Elder and Settler Partnership in the Territory of the Williams Treaties”, which was peer-reviewed, accepted by and presented at this year’s Canadian Political Science Association Meetings in June. Jazmine also completed a fourth-year research practicum and reading course with Prof. Changfoot, and received the Denis Smith Essay Prize for best essay for a fourth year Political Studies course.
“Jazmine’s openness, readiness to learn, engage with ideas, receive guidance, attention to detail, impeccable work ethic to put in that extra effort and desire for excellence is a winning combination,” says Prof. Changfoot, who also assisted Jazmine in finding a graduate program that allows them to pursue their interdisciplinary research interests.
“The fact that Prof. Changfoot reached out to me with an offer of mentorship and followed through so radically really set me up for success,” says Jazmine. “Having such true mentorship outside of the hard sciences is rare, but makes such a difference, especially in your undergraduate program and if you want to go to a professional school or pursue long-term academia.”
Jazmine recommends research practicums for any student who can access them.
“Research practicums teach you how to think originally, to think more about knowledge creation. This is so valuable if you want to do anything after your degree or do something with your degree.”
Finding their community outside of the classroom
As a mature student, finding that sense of solidarity and fostering a connection based on interest with fellow students was key for Jazmine.
“It's important to have a sense of community,” Jazmine explains. “Especially when it comes to studying with friends or discussing issues. Having a sense of solidarity and seminar when you're talking about things that are fraught or challenging is so important – it’s hard to do it alone.”
Jazmine believes that Trent offers students many opportunities to find their community based on their interest. They built lasting friendships through activities such a rock climbing in the Athletics Centre, exploring their creativity through poetry, pottery and dance, and getting active with the outdoor club.
“I think it's important for people to know that there are lots of things that you can do to be involved that are more casual, like rock climbing, being part of the outdoor club, or signing up for events like literary cafes or essay contests,” says Jazmine. “It was always put to me to do all these things so you can get into grad school or professional school, but truly the biggest benefit to me was feeling a sense of solidarity with classmates.”
Posted on August 11, 2021