It is so important to stay connected, especially during a global pandemic and the GCC was such a big part of how I felt connected to my peers and the university as a whole.

Ziara Ruchkall is an anthropology student at the University of Lethbridge and moved here from Red Deer, AB. She chose the U of L after hearing great things about its student services and reputation. After attending "student for a day," her decision was solidified. Ziara is participating in the Global Citizenship Cohort (GCC) in the Environment & Culture theme. As we near the end of the year, we wanted to connect with Ziara and learn more about her first-year experience in the GCC.

What drew you to the Global Citizenship Cohort? Why did you apply?

I have always loved being engaged in my community and making connections with those around me and when I first heard about the GCC, it sounded like a perfect fit! I was excited about trying different classes and meeting new people, whilst also being able to engage with the U of L "family."

What has been your most memorable GCC experience?

My most memorable experience was the cross-cohort debate we had in the first semester. I actually prepared with someone in another cohort for the topic of debate. The energy, excitement and amazing arguments made the whole thing such a fantastic experience.

Why should future students participate in the GCC?

Because it is such a great way to get involved. You essentially have a built-in family for the whole year and have a professor who can help you through your struggles. It is so important to stay connected, especially during a global pandemic and the GCC was such a big part of how I felt connected to my peers and the university as a whole. The GCC also gives you so many amazing connections you might not have had if you weren't in the program.

Please describe your capstone project for the GCC.

I partnered with my best friend to make a semester-long commitment to making small changes. We believe that "no one can do everything, but everyone can do something" and decided to apply this belief to our project. We wrote a letter to our MP, did a weekly trash pickup and each of us researched a change we could make to lower our carbon footprint, then implemented that change (I did vegetarianism and she did recycling).

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your uLethbridge experience? This can be a friend, mentor, staff or faculty.

Two people immediately come to mind. Dr. Jodie Asselin, our GCC and Anthropology professor has massively influenced me. She actually inspired me to change my major and her kindness and genuine excitement shows how much she cares for each of her students. The other person I think of is my RA, Tianna. I moved into residence in the second semester and she made me feel welcome and included. Since then, she has become a mentor and someone I can rely on when I am in need of a friend.

What is the most important lesson you have learned this year in the GCC?

It is okay to not know things. A huge part of learning is asking questions and it is okay if you are confused and need help. A quote I hear a lot is that usually if you have a question, ten other people in your class are wondering the same thing, so you should just ask.

We are spending a lot more time at home now. What do you do to keep busy? Have you picked up any new hobbies?

I have started kick boxing! My roommate introduced me to the virtual sessions she was attending and I have been hooked ever since.

What advice would you give to students who are about to begin their post-secondary journeys?

Take risks. University is the time to test things out and do things you have never tried and the University of Lethbridge is the perfect place to do that. Every risk you take, even if it's just saying hello to your neighbor in lecture (or in a breakout room), is worth it.

The Faculty of Arts & Science Global Citizenship Cohort (GCC) offers a unique opportunity for students to connect some first-year courses around a common theme while interacting with a group of like-minded students. Learn more about the GCC.