Rayan Kanaan

Meet Rayan Kanaan:

Headshot of a person with long blonde curly hair, smiling, wearing a blue blazor in front of a white background.

About Rayan

Rayan Kanaan is the winner of the 2023 Carl Rom Colthoff Experiential Learning Award, in recognition of her outstanding participation in University-organized experiential learning opportunities which have informed the development of her leadership in the broader community. As a 4th year Bio-Medical Science student at the University of Guelph, Rayan has been involved as a Residence Assistant, Career Education Peer Helper, Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Ontario Veterinary College, a Teaching Assistant for the UNIV*2100 Career Development Course, and as a member of the Residence Life Advisory Committee. In the broader community, Rayan brought her job readiness skills and knowledge to her role as a Youth Mentor at The Grove Hubs. Rayan talks about her experiential learning and what it all means to her.

What calls you to experiential learning? Why is it something that you decided you wanted to get involved with at U of G?

Experiential learning has been an invaluable and integral part of my undergraduate degree, as it has provided me with various opportunities to become involved with the University of Guelph community. Prior to my involvement in experiential learning and as I progressed through my education, it felt like I was disconnected from my peers and colleagues. I yearned for more connections, meaningful relationships and positively contributing to the University of Guelph community. As I learned about the different opportunities available, I have since become thoroughly invested in creating positive and significant change, to support the student body experiential learning is my true calling.”

How does your work as a Residence Assistant, creating a welcoming and inclusive living environment for students and serving as a role model, as well as your work helping students through TAship and your senior peer helper role, translate in your day-to-day life outside of these positions?

“My work as a Residence Assistant, TA and Senior Peer Helper have all supported the development of various important skills, both personal and paraprofessional, such as communication, problem-solving, leadership, empathy and teamwork. These skills translate in my day-to-day life outside of these positions in many ways. They have helped me build and maintain meaningful relationships, inspire others towards common goals, make rational choices, overcome daily challenges, understand others' perspectives, and create a cohesive environment. Overall, these skills have been useful and applicable in various settings throughout my day-to-day life, promoting positive interactions and an inclusive atmosphere.”


How have you grown your professional development through experiential learning?

Through experiential learning, I have exponentially grown my professional development as I continue to gain hands-on experience and develop skills that are applicable in the real-world. My initial participation in experiential learning has paved the path towards additional opportunities. For example, as a result of my experience as a Senior Peer, I was able to earn a positive as a TA to not only solidify my own knowledge and learning, but that of other students as well. My involvement in a research project within the Biomedical Sciences department has expanded my knowledge surrounding lab etiquette, physiology and solidified my interest in working in healthcare.”

In what ways have your experiential learning opportunities woven together?

As aforementioned, my experiential learning opportunities have had a domino effect, as they effectively complement my professional growth. In an effort to maximize student interaction and networking, community engagement, and my own learning, I have merged my roles on various occasions. For example, as a Residence Assistant, I collaborated with the Career Services Peer Helper Team to host an In-Residence Resume Blitz, to spread awareness about useful resources available to students. Additionally, my participation in research has helped me become more attentive to detail, and strengthen my collaboration and problem-solving skills, which have all been applicable in my other roles as a student in STEM, research assistant and medical assistant.”

What does Experiential Learning mean to you?

To me, experiential learning emphasizes practical experiences, active involvement, and introspection. It encourages individuals to take part in unique opportunities that enable application of developed skills and knowledge into practice in real-life scenarios. I am grateful to take part in this experiential learning, as it presents something new and exciting every day.”

What impact do you hope to have in the greater community using the skills you've gained from experiential learning?

All in all, I hope to have a positive and memorable impact in the greater community using the skills I have gained from experiential learning. I intend to inspire and encourage others to ask questions, step outside their comfort zone and take initiative in becoming actively engaged in experiential learning. Using the skills I have gained, I will continue to network with others and maintain consistent involvement, in an effort to promote my experiences and motivate others to take part in experiential learning and greater community.”