Samantha Scott (BA Co-op '24) was initially drawn to the University of Lethbridge because of its music program and began her post-secondary journey pursuing a music degree. It wasn’t long, however, before she was singing from a different songbook, thanks to the University’s focus on liberal education.

My journey at ULethbridge has been full of experiences I could never have imagined when I first applied. Sometimes I think of my 17-year-old self and wonder what she would think of all the incredible opportunities I’ve had that have nothing to do with what I thought I would be doing.

Meet Samantha | Determined. Adventurous. Honest.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Major: Political Science
Hometown: Medicine Hat, AB

Samantha had it all planned out. She would finish her degree in four years and then immediately pursue a master’s. Although Samantha thrived during her first year as a music student, deep down she knew it wasn’t the right path for her. Then, over the summer semester before her second year, she had the opportunity to take the Knowledge and Liberal Education course and the resulting skills and resources put her in a better position to re-evaluate her educational journey.

“I am now in my sixth year, and I am graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science. I credit the liberal education philosophy offered at ULethbridge with changing the trajectory of my life and providing me with opportunities beyond my wildest expectations,” says Samantha.  

She will also graduate with her co-op designation and calls her decision to enter the Co-operative Education program one of the best decisions she’s made in pursuit of her degree.

“One of my most distinct memories is someone at the University telling me: ‘You’re going to graduate with the same degree as all your peers. How are you going to stand out when you’re applying for jobs after you graduate?’” recalls Samantha. “Getting work experience while you’re in university is so important, and I have no regrets about extending my degree so that I could pursue those opportunities.”

Her educational path to date leaves her feeling optimistic about her future after graduation. While her plans include pursuing a master’s and perhaps even a PhD, Samantha feels the job experience she’s gained is so beneficial she will likely take a break and work for a bit before she continues her education.

Samantha says she has learned so much from all of her professors, but praises three political science professors in particular. She credits Dr. Alan Siaroff and Dr. Yale Belanger with providing their insights into research/academia and how she can apply her degree after graduation. As for Dr. John von Heyking, Samantha calls her time as a teaching assistant in his Intro to Political Science course one of the most unique class experiences she’s had at ULethbridge.

“While I learned lessons about research and writing from him, he has also been extremely influential when it comes to insights on actually teaching and engaging students,” she says.

Being able to revisit basic political science concepts in professor John von Heyking’s class allowed her to reflect on how far she had come, and remind her why she loves the subject so much. From a skill-building perspective, having an advisor guide her through the learning process was extremely beneficial and the experience left her with both skills she had expected to develop, and unexpected lessons learned.  

Samantha says her most memorable university experience to date was serving on the executive of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union, including the role of VP External in the 2023 school year.

“In addition to representing students internal to the University, I got to work externally with all levels of government and advocate for policies that will benefit students. Anyone who knows me will attest that I love politics, so being able to work in that environment and learn so much makes me incredibly thankful for my time there,” she says.

Being actively involved in campus activities was a conscious decision on Samantha’s part. One of the things about COVID-19 that stuck with her the most was the isolation many students felt when classes restarted online. She’s tried to  help foster a sense of community through multiple terms with the Association of Political Science Students, the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group and the Campus Collective Centre.

“In addition to the highest academic excellence, Samantha embodies exemplary civic virtues,” Professor John von Heyking notes. “Additionally, she displays unbelievable grit and perseverance.”

Samantha’s advice for those just starting their educational journey at ULethbridge is to be as fearless as possible.

“Opportunities will pop up, classes will force you to reconsider your major, and hurdles will be thrown at you from all angles. Take those leaps of faith and remember to trust yourself and your journey,” she says.

As for what's next, Samanth plans to pursue further education in the near future, after taking some time off to continue gaining work experience beforehand.

"I am currently working as the External Communications and Sustainable Fund Development Officer at the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre. Participating in the co-op program through my degree was so valuable, and I am confident that this extra time will set me up well for wherever the future takes me!"

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