Learning through Experience

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

sarah bus
“At Grebel there is something for everyone!” Third-year Nanotechnology Engineering student, Sarah Odinotski, has tackled several formative co-op terms and actively participated in many clubs and activities offered by Grebel. She has learned much from her experiences and used her knowledge to strengthen the community, and improve herself and others for the better.

Sarah was welcomed to the Grebel residence by warm and supportive leaders and upper-year students in her first year of university. She felt like she was being taken into a caring family, and she selflessly wanted to ensure that future students would feel the same way. So during her following years as a Grebel resident, Sarah decided to help others feel at home as an Orientation Week Leader, member of the Grebel Orientation Committee, and member of the Ambassador team. “My experience being a part of Grebel has allowed me to make lifelong friends, be challenged and grow, as well as be supported and support others,” Sarah said. “I am choosing to stay involved because I know that any action, big or small, has the potential to make a positive difference.”

There is always something to do at Grebel, whether it be Just Dance competitions, intramural sports teams, spontaneous movie nights, “hall wandering,” or creative student-led activities, all giving Grebelites the chance to meet new people and strengthen bonds. “Not everyone gets to say that they’ve run across campus with one hundred friends all dressed in DIY bedsheet togas, or were covered in paint trying to win a messy game of twister,” Sarah laughed.

sarah outside
Not only do these activities provide excellent fun, but they also give students so much more. University can be quite challenging. Coursework requires many hours of intense study and stress can weigh heavily on the mind. This is why taking the time to chat with friends or participate in community events is so important. It gives students the chance not only to cultivate friendships, but also to relieve stress and clear their heads. “Being involved in activities outside of school has helped me to stay grounded, take time for myself, and focus on my mental health,” Sarah said. “Grebel helped me schedule my time more effectively, which in turn helped increase my productivity significantly.” Sarah met Grebelites from all faculties, as well as students in the same program as herself, and they have been able to “ride all the ups and downs” of their program together. “No matter what program you’re in, it’s nice to know that you’re not going through this experience alone—you have a group of people who know exactly how you’re feeling and can help support you through it!”

Sarah is very interested in micromachining and electronics, and at the same time is also keen on pursuing a path in medicine. After several successful co-op work terms, she found that co-op offers a practical way to “pursue different career paths, take risks, and discover what really gets [her] excited.” In her current co-op position, Sarah is working in an engineering team where she and her team design and carry out the microfabrication of a medical implant and microfluidic chips. In this role, she most enjoys how she can use her program-specific knowledge to help her in the workplace. “The co-op program has helped me to extend my knowledge from class, look at it in a new light, and connect it to a different environment,” Sarah said. “Practicing this critical thinking and creative problem solving in the workplace has helped make it more natural for me in an academic setting.” Co-op allows students to improve academically and make professional connections.

sarah toga
Experiences help us learn and grow, whether it be from the transfer of skills from work positions into our everyday lives, the stress relief from a fun activity, or through interactions with others. Friends are supportive, know what you are going through, and can ease difficult times. Grebel provides countless opportunities to meet new people, relieve stress, and improve oneself academically—to learn through experience. “Being a part of this community has helped me to grow and mature in countless ways. It’s helped me to surround myself with people from whom I can learn, and it’s given me the opportunity to be a role model and share what I’ve learned with others.”

Written by Jace Jaeden Ellis