Mavis Chan credits her professors at the University of Lethbridge with helping her discover her true calling. Now that she’s found it, the archaeology student is fully committed to pursuing that passion and realizing her full potential.  

The supportive environment of ULethbridge has not only broadened my horizons and helped me narrow down the future direction I would like to take, but also taught me how to be confident and take initiative to better my own professional and personal development.

Meet Mavis | Passionate learner. Mind over matter. Driven.   
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Archaeology & Geography 
Hometown: Hong Kong, China 

As a Grade 12 student, Mavis struggled with what she wanted to do in the future. While she had countless dreams, none seemed the right fit.  

“However, a certain moment occurred during an unrelated math class when a thought struck me: ‘I wonder if I can find what is important to me, just like how archaeologists find stuff under the ground?’” she recalls.  

That thought continued to resonate with her, and she enrolled in the archaeology and geography program. Transitioning from a small high school, Mavis was looking for a university where she could build a strong sense of community and make meaningful connections. She found that ULethbridge, with its smaller size, also allowed her to readily locate and access the resources she needed to thrive in her academic journey. 

In the summer of her first year, Mavis completed an archaeological field school at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump UNESCO World Heritage site. She then took an independent research study focusing on geographical information systems (GIS) and lab analysis at the same site. Mavis would also take the initiative and propose a project to a professor whose interest paralleled hers at Yukon University. She did an independent study course as a visiting student that focused on GIS applications at a local archaeological site.  

With a desire to learn how to apply classroom knowledge to real-world issues, Mavis actively participated in Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities as part of her geography coursework. 

“I had the opportunity to work alongside peers and industry professionals, applying classroom knowledge to solve real-world challenges. These experiences not only reinforced my academic learning but also made me deeply appreciate the practical applications of my field of study,” she says.   

Mavis also looked to broaden her knowledge and expertise across various archaeological domains and participated in a five-week archaeological field school this past summer in Jordan. 

Mindful that archaeology is a multidisciplinary field, she collaborated with two colleagues from the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on a project on 'Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Extraction and Analysis of Bison Long Bones at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, UNESCO World Heritage Site.’  They presented at the joint Archaeological Society of Alberta and Saskatchewan Archaeological Society (ASA/SAS) conference this past spring and received an award for the best student presentation. 

Physical strength is a prerequisite for archaeological field work, and Mavis has taken on an unique activity which not only provides that benefit, but many others.

"Pole dancing is not just a hobby, but an art and sport that I truly love," she says. "Pole dancing allows me to step out of my comfort zone, both physically and mentally. It is certainly a powerful form of exercise that has increased my strength and flexibility, while allowing me to be creative and free my mind from stress."

Mavis says her professors have been incredibly supportive in providing her with a clear path to explore various opportunities within her field. Their guidance and support not only allowed her to have a positive educational experience, but also taught her to be confident and believe in herself. 

“Knowing that I have a reliable guide really helps me navigate the way through challenges I face in my journey,” says Mavis.   

Those who have had particular influence on her ULethbridge experience include Dr. Shawn Bubel. Mavis calls her a “great mentor” who guided her through the tough times when she didn’t know what she wanted to do. Dr. Kevin McGeough, meanwhile, helped her become a better archaeologist and supported her through some of the hardest classes she had ever taken. 

“Mavis embodies the kind of student success we hope to achieve through a liberal education: a student with a strong disciplinary foundation that excels in other academic areas,” says professor Kevin McGeough. 

Mavis also values the emotional support provided by a group of friends, who call themselves the ‘Bridge Girls,’ and their help in turning mistakes into valuable lessons. 

Her short-term plan is to pursue a master’s degree, with a focus on digital preservation of archaeological sites in Northern Canada using (GIS) and remote sensing. Long-term, Mavis hopes to find herself in a position where she can impart knowledge and share her passions with younger generations. 

“Much like the way my professors have influenced and inspired me, I want to be a mentor and educator who ignites the curiosity and enthusiasm of students, guiding them on their own journeys of discovery and growth,” she says.  

As for advice to those just beginning their journey at ULethbridge, Mavis said it’s important to remember that university is not just a place to acquire knowledge but also pursue personal growth and exploration. She urges students to stay open to new experiences, seek out opportunities beyond their comfort zone and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

“ULethbridge is a place for you to discover your passions, build lasting connections and shape your future, so make the most of it by staying curious and true to yourself,” says Mavis.