THE OLIVE TREE IS A SYMBOL OF MANY THINGS including peace, tranquillity, luck, wisdom and victory. It thrives in ideal conditions but is equally capable of survival through less than impeccable periods of drought and heavy wind.
It comes as no surprise that Master of Health and Exercise Science student Nadhiyya Shabir expresses a certain affection for the shrub, albeit for reasons other than the traits it shares with so many successful graduate students.
“My purpose in life is to find my passion,” she adds. “That’s the great thing about graduate school. A master’s program gives you a lot of room to explore, whether it’s research, teaching, industry or pursuing a PhD.” As part of her master’s program, Nadhiyya will be working with Dr. Ali McManus in her Pediatric Exercise Research Laboratory this fall.
“What appealed to me about teaching is that I could play an important role in shaping the minds of the next generation,” she says. “The best part of being in academia is that I actually do have the opportunity to teach and connect with students which I’m really looking forward to.”
A self-described introvert, Nadhiyya uses this label with a caveat: “I love to meet new people,” she laughs. “You can’t put introverts in a box.”
As a Graduate Community Facilitator, Nadhiyya has found the perfect vehicle to drive her exploration. “I knew I would meet many unique people with different interests and backgrounds,” she says. “It’s a great way to find out what others are passionate about, how they figured it out and what they’re doing to achieve their dreams.”
Working to enhance the graduate student experience and championing a graduate student community is what being a Graduate Community Facilitator is all about. “In my role, I welcome new students, increase student engagement opportunities and plan events that connect grad students from all faculties with their peers,” Nadhiyya says. “We organize fun events like movie and game nights, cultural activities, hiking and trivia and love to make use of the graduate student spaces.”
Nadhiyya grew up in Toronto and attended McMaster University in Hamilton where she earned her BSc in Life Sciences. She speaks from experience when she says that the life of a new graduate student can be overwhelming. “Especially if you’re coming from another university or another country, she says. “Definitely take it one day at a time and don’t panic,” she suggests. You don’t need to do everything on day one. Try mapping things out. Then you don’t have to stress about everything all at the same time.” She also suggests connecting with other new graduate students. “Finding out that you’re not alone is helpful—talking to other students will make you feel better and you’ll probably help them feel better, too.”
The nature of being a graduate student makes it easy to stick within a niche circle, but Nadhiyya encourages students to be courageous and speak to others outside of their programs. “To grow you need to move outside of your comfort zone,” she says. “There’s great value in knowing people from other faculties. You might find opportunities to partner up and do special projects or make connections that will last far beyond school.”
Keep an eye out for the unique, fun and engaging activities Nadhiyya has planned to help graduate students build community and foster a sense of belonging on campus this coming term. She is also very knowledgeable about all things UBCO including campus and community resources, striving for academic success and making connections through introductions and referrals.
To connect with Nadhiyya, and keep tabs on ways to get involved in campus life as a graduate student, follow the Graduate Community Facilitators on Facebook and Instagram or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.