Jamie Lewis, a BA graduate with a double major in anthropology and religious studies, is this year's recipient of the Faculty of Arts & Science Gold Medal (Arts). Her research is very diverse and highly interdisciplinary and often touches on marginalized people. Jamie took advantage of a number of applied studies and co-operative education work terms. She has worked closely with Dr. Jan Newberry on a project that resulted in her co-authoring a paper. She has also worked with Dr. Catherine Kingfisher and produced short films. Jamie has been an active volunteer, working with Syrian refugees, sexual assault survivors, and the arts. She has received a number of awards and has presented her work at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and Canadian Anthropological Society.
What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?
In the Spring semester of 2017, I crowded around a table at The Zoo with all of the other members of that year's WUSC ULeth Local Committee to find out the results of our referendum campaign. We had worked tirelessly throughout the school year to encourage students to vote "yes" and allow us to collect enough money to sponsor a new refugee student annually. Finding out that that referendum passed with 74.22% approval, and getting to celebrate it with all of my friends, was one of the happiest moments of my life. I still tear up just thinking about it.
Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your uLethbridge?
I have been incredibly blessed to have had the full support of faculty members from the Departments of Anthropology and Religious Studies during my time here, along with many other wonderful people from different departments throughout the university, so I feel like naming any one person is totally inadequate. But I suppose that being mentored by Dr. Jan Newberry was one of the most life-changing parts of my time here. Jan took me under her wing in my second year and gave me countless opportunities that shaped the rest of my time as an undergrad, and will undoubtedly continue to shape the rest of my life. She gave me the chance to believe in myself and to pursue my passions and I'll always be indebted to her for that.
What is the most important lesson you learned?
The most important lesson I've learned in university is that self-awareness is a crucial part of achieving your goals and living a healthy life. The more that you come to understand yourself—what causes your anxieties and how you can manage that, what activities bring you joy, what people help you feel the most supported, how you want to make the world a better place—the easier it is to stay healthy and engaged moving forward. It's a scary and overwhelming world out there, with socio-political structures to be toppled and environmental harm to halted and exquisite art to be created, but you need to understand and take care of yourself before you can do any of that safely.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
If this last year has taught me anything, it's to not hold onto plans for the future too tightly. However, I'm currently hoping to gain experience in the world of journalism and publishing for a year or two before pursuing a Master's degree which will combine my academic interests with my literary ones. I've always believed that writing and research are crucial to social change, and I want to be a part of that. Whether I end up working as a journalist, documentarian, creative writer, or professor, I want to focus on finding new ways of facilitating dialogue between conflicting ideologies.
What advice would you give to students who are about to begin their post-secondary journeys?
Work on trusting yourself. Take the kind words others say about you, the encouragement your professors give you, the proof of all of your previous successes, whatever good stuff has carried you this far, and use it as evidence to build a case for how capable you are. This is not going to be an easy journey, but the sooner you learn to believe in yourself—genuinely, not just the Disney way—the sooner you will feel capable of facing any challenge head-on. You won't always succeed, but when you believe that you can succeed *eventually*, it becomes a lot easier to keep trying.