They say the friends you make in university will be friendships that will last a lifetime — and the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) isn’t letting anything (not even COVID-19) come between that.

Integrated within the Accounting and Financial Management (AFM), Math/CPA and Biotech/CPA programs is an experiential learning initiative called “2YEx” (the two-year experience). The goal of 2YEx is to inspire engaged learners that support each other while honing their collaboration and teamwork skills.

For the past four years, an important part of 2YEx is Crews. Teams of five to six students are enrolled in many of their classes together where group work is required. Crews attend events together, participate in bi-weekly webinars hosted by the School and are supported by upper-year Peer Support Learning Champions. The initiative has proved especially useful as classes went online at the end of winter-term.

“As a mentor, I was not only able to share my experiences and provide guidance to my first-year Crews, but the experience proved invaluable to me as well — I was able to develop strong communication, accountability and leadership skills,” Laura Robertson says, a third-year AFM student and Peer Support Learning Champion during the Winter Term.

Looking ahead to the spring and summer months, Crews have garnered a whole new appreciation as remote learning takes precedent.

“In this online learning environment, it is more important than ever for our students to have the opportunity to be connected with each other and to the broader SAF community,” Kevin McMahon says, associate director of Student Opportunities and Engagement.

Crews have shown to be especially impactful in a remote learning environment.

Even with the shuffles at the end of Winter Term, students had their Crews already in place to support them through final assignments, projects and exams. Rather than go through it alone, Crewmates leaned on each other, supporting their classmates to the finish-line.

“By video-calling with my Crew several times a week, we co-ordinated together to work on one of our major group presentations. Throughout the process of constructing the presentation, we worked together to ensure that everyone had caught up on the recent lecture videos and made sure to guide each other through the process,” Kyle Chan says, a first-year AFM student.

These Crew relationships developed over the span of more than eight months have given SAF students a social outlet during periods of isolation.

“In a time of uncertainty, our Crew remained a foundation of support. The deep relationships our crew developed over the past eight months has helped us all feel connected even when we are far apart,” Michelle Reddy says, a first-year AFM student.

They were even able to celebrate the end of term together.

“We all came together to have a Netflix party,” Reddy says. “Being in a Crew has taught us that no matter how far apart we are from each other, the friendships we have built are ones that will last for a lifetime.”