What being a Fellow in first year is like

Developing a peer network being and receiving mentorship helped me successfully transition to university and an online learning environment

Hi, my name is Ciara and I am aPhoto of Ciara M 1A student in Accounting and Financial Management (AFM). I was offered a spot in the Fellowship Program last May after I had accepted my offer to AFM. Back then, I wasn’t sure what being a Fellow meant for me — I was told extra networking opportunities (which scared me) and a financial scholarship each term (which was very exciting). Looking back on May now, I wish I could tell myself what this awesome opportunity would open up for me.

As a Fellow I have been able to connect with more of my peers and develop a peer network, which is valuable in the current online learning environment. We share the same ambitions, values and most importantly the same stress of trying to figure out academic assignments from our desks remotely at home. Our little group and the friends I’ve made from Fellowship have kept me afloat during some of the stresses that come from being a first-year student in general and more importantly online learning.

Also, the Fellowship has given me an incredible third-year student as a mentor. My mentor Valerie first reached out to me in July and she was an amazing source for some general AFM and online school concerns, Fellowship questions, and just someone to chat with as I prepared for one of the biggest steps I would take in life. Picking apart her experiences and just knowing that someone has made it past the first year and an online term of learning was so helpful and reassuring. My conversations with Valerie have been a great source of comfort for me, especially in August where the start of the term was just creeping closer every day and anxieties were rising right along with it.

Last but oh-so certainly not least, as a Fellow we are assigned to an Honouree; a SAF graduate who has gone on to do great things. I was introduced to my Honouree, Judith Ma, in November and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her at the Fellowship Program Café later in the month. Judith is a first time Honouree and I feel so privileged to be the first Fellow to be able to receive her insights and expertise.

Coming into my first year of university, I had all the regular nerves of not being able to meet people and I felt in the dark about courses and the life path that is to come. On top of that, the stress of online learning and not having that natural community setting of being on campus. Being a Fellow has eliminated so many of those stresses through the connections we are given. The Fellowship program is an incredible group with some incredible people who are enhancing my Waterloo and AFM experience and I feel so grateful to be given the opportunity to join this community.

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