Meet Serena Morrill:
Serena Morrill is currently a University of Guelph Honours BSc student in Biological Sciences, and is heading to Medical School at McMaster University this fall after being admitted as an early applicant. While at the University of Guelph, Serena was involved in various experiential learning including Jack.org, Rotaract Club of Guelph, the Indigenous Student Society, and the Indigenous Communications in Science Committee. Serena shares more about her experiential learning as a First Nations student in STEM, the barriers of research in biology and some possible solutions, her hopes for her future impact in her industry, and her advice to other Indigenous students.
Tell us about your work on the Indigenous Communications in Science Committee! What was your role?
“I collaborated with other Indigenous STEM students within the Indigenous Communications in Science Committee to streamline and consolidate resources for incoming Indigenous students. The goal of this project was to engage incoming learners and foster a sense of community, while also addressing many of the accessibility barriers of utilizing supports and resources.”
What were/are some key barriers for accessibility to research in biology, and how can we overcome these barriers? How did the committee help with this?
“Fragmented information, and public health restrictions leading to social isolation created unique challenges of engaging incoming students, while also creating a sense of community. The committee empowered and motivated members to collaborate with a common mission, and addressed some of the gaps in the existing resources. Many of us were blindsided by the various supports and opportunities available to us. The committee recognized these barriers and worked towards overcoming these barriers by engaging students and streamlining resources.”
What was your most valuable takeaway from that committee?
“The most valuable takeaway from this experience is how integral accessibility to information and resources certainly are for students to be successful. I truly believe ‘it takes a village’, for a student to accomplish their goals. By encompassing so many useful tools into one document incoming learners are more likely to be informed on experiences and opportunities available to them. Being informed may also address other barriers, such as financial adversity via scholarship and bursary opportunities.”
What is your advice to other Indigenous students in STEM?
“My advice would be to prioritize tasks, make attainable goals, celebrate the big and small wins, seek out opportunities you resonate with, ask for help when you need it, cheer on others, surround yourself with a community of optimistic people, make time for self care and remember that you are always smarter than you think you are. Keep your head up, you’ve got this!”
What other Experiential Learning did you take part in at U of G?
“I was an executive outreach member of Guelph’s Jack.org Chapter, a general member for the Rotaract Club of Guelph and a general member of the Indigenous Student Society.”
What does Experiential Learning mean to you?
“To me, experiential learning involves immersing yourself in hands-on learning that provides tools to be successful within and outside of the classroom. Experiential learning often provides acts of service to others, fosters community and allows for room to practice team building and collaboration with others.”
What are you up to now?
“I will be starting medical school at McMaster University in August 2022. For the time being, I am enjoying my final break before starting an accelerated training program as a future physician. I am looking forward to getting involved with the Indigenous community in Hamilton.”
What impact do you hope to make in your industry and community in the future?
“I hope to care for a rural community once I complete my training. I also intend on becoming involved with mentoring undergraduate Indigenous learners, thereby encouraging others to pursue professional careers in healthcare. I hope to have an impact on receiving comprehensive and timely care in rural communities within Northern Ontario.”
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“I feel that it is important for Indigenous students to support each other to increase representation in professional programs. I’ve recognized that many students are often competitive amongst each other in terms of their Indigenous identity. However, it is important to recognize we all have our unique story to date. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”