Passion for people shines in everything Master of Arts (geography) graduate Mariah Besplug (BA/BEd '18, MA '22) does, which is why it's no surprise to us that she won the School of Graduate Studies Silver Medal of Merit, Master of Arts. Her empathy, compassion, hard work, and dedication to her field have resulted in a fantastic thesis, Building refuge: narratives from the private sponsorship of refugees program in the Lethbridge, Alberta area.

I am incredibly grateful for all the life experiences that have led me toward this path. This recognition is a symbol of all the years of hard work I have put in and the direction I have received from family and mentors along the way. It wouldn't have been possible without them.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable experience at ULethbridge was sitting with two fellow graduate students in our office in UHall on March 13, 2020, wondering if school would be cancelled the next day. We had no idea what we were heading into, but I will always be grateful for the time I had in person at the university to create those lasting relationships.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

The most important lesson I learned during my time at the University of Lethbridge was to be open to the opportunities around you. There are many different ways of being involved in the university community, and I am grateful, looking back, that I was able to take advantage of some of those experiences.

Is there someone specific who had an essential influence on your ULethbridge experience?

My supervisor Dr. Julie Young was an incredibly important influence. She was an outstanding mentor who provided direction and encouragement throughout my program. Without her, the research I conducted would not have been possible, and I will always be grateful for the time and effort she put in.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I currently live in British Columbia and work in social responsibility for a resource company. I love having a career where I can handle complex issues involving relationships between humans and spaces. I hope to continue learning and growing in this field.

What advice would you give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

My advice to future students is not to be afraid to ask hard questions and to be okay with uncertainty. It is a great space where creativity blossoms and connections are made.

Mariah's advice for current and new students is a beautiful reminder that learning is all about taking that step into the uncertain and being open to the possibilities of what that can bring. We know that she will excel in her field, and the lives she touches will be much better for her presence. Please join us in celebrating all her hard work and her extraordinary accomplishments.

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