Ally De Jonge says that choosing ULethbridge for her undergraduate degree in biochemistry was the best decision of her life. Since the University is a liberal education school, it allowed exploration of subjects beyond her major. By doing this, Ally discovered archaeology. This past summer, she was privileged to be part of a team of students to excavate at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. She can now apply her biochemistry knowledge in archeology to analyze artifacts. Because of this, she is applying for a master's in biochemical archeology.
The most memorable University of Lethbridge experience I have had so far would be having the privilege to excavate on a World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This was an experience most students would not receive at other institutes. Through this, I made many connections throughout Alberta and have my name in the records of the Royal Alberta Museum.
Meet Ally | Interdisciplinary. Motivated. Extraordinarily Talented.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Biochemistry
Why did you choose ULethbridge?
I chose the University of Lethbridge because I received a special invitation to the Global Citizenship Cohort and a prompt to accept my offer. I also wanted to do a biochemistry degree, and the University of Lethbridge has the best lab experiences in all of Alberta.
Please tell us a bit about your experiential or work-integrated learning at ULethbridge. What were your three biggest takeaways from participating?
In my years at the University of Lethbridge, I have been able to be a part of the Global Citizenship Cohort, where we looked at water and sustainability in the world. I was also a part of a field school, where I excavated at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Because of this, I was able to work in Dr. Bubel's lab for two years and received an independent study in it. Throughout this, I was able to catalogue and analyze the artifacts. I was also allowed to analyze sediment from six sites by extracting phytoliths. And finally, I had the opportunity to sequence ancient buffalo genomes. During my time at the University of Lethbridge, I was also able to be a teaching assistant for the biology 3420 animal physiology class; this was a paid position where I ran PASS tutorials for students; the tutorials are done through MyExperience at the university.
My three biggest takeaways from all this are:
- Never say no to opportunities when they present themselves to you
- Know that as long as you are working towards wanting something, you can obtain it
- Just because you are a declared major, never be scared to look around and explore other subject areas
What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience so far?
The most memorable University of Lethbridge experience I have had so far would be having the privilege to excavate on a World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This was an experience most students would not receive at other institutes. Through this, I made many connections throughout Alberta and have my name in the records of the Royal Alberta Museum. I have also gained two years of lab experience, for this project, in my undergraduate degree, which will set me apart from other students when I graduate. This experience was the most memorable because of the excavation and because I camped near Head-Smashed-In for four weeks with an amazing group of people. We also visited the University of Lethbridge's research centre in the mountains, which was beautiful in itself.
How have your professors impacted your education?
The professors at the University of Lethbridge are the most incredible people I have ever had the privilege to meet. They are willing to do anything to see you grow and learn. They are the type of professors that will take you on as an independent study student to give you experience with no extra pay. The professors here care about their students.
I could pick from a list of professors that have impacted me the most, but if I had to pick one, it would be Dr. Randall Barley from the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Barley has spent many hours outside the classroom helping me, not only for his class but also for my future. He has helped me look for graduate studies opportunities and chatted with me about where my interests are and which program would fit those the best. He has also boosted my confidence and changed how I learn in a classroom. Since taking his biology 3420 animal physiology class, my grades have skyrocketed. He is an amazing teacher that offers so much knowledge to this institution. Dr. Barley took the time to sit with me to see how I learn and determine how I should study, which helped me in all my classes. He pushed me to be the student I could be, and I feel like I can finally learn to my absolute capacity. Dr. Barley has shown me my true potential and has given me the confidence to do it. I can never thank him enough.
Ally's energy, enthusiasm and sense of humour, coupled with her willingness to get involved in campus life, have made ULethbridge a brighter place! – Dr. Randall Barley, Department of Biological Sciences, nominated Ally as a Shining Student.
Is there someone else who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?
Another professor that has helped me inside and outside the classroom and that has pushed me is Dr. Bubel. She has allowed me to see how I could apply my biochemistry knowledge to archeology and has provided many opportunities to show me. She is why I have found my passion in life and can do what I love.
Have you received any scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.
I was awarded a certificate for completing the University of Lethbridge Global Citizenship Cohort for water and sustainability; this was the first place I saw the importance of interdisciplinary studies. It also allowed me to work with professors in my first university years and make connections. I have also received the University of Lethbridge Dance Team, Team Player award. The dance team has been where I can make strong connections with a group of people and learn to work as a team while doing the thing I love. I have received some scholarships throughout my years at the University of Lethbridge. These scholarships include the Lethbridge and District Japanese Canadian Association Award, the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union Quality Initiative Bursary, the Edd McRory Memorial Foundation Bursary, and the University of Lethbridge Bursary. I want to thank these four donors for awarding me the scholarships. They have immensely helped me financially and, in turn, allowed me to focus more time to succeed at university. I have also been awarded the Student with Disabilities Grants yearly through my student loans. I am a student with Dyslexia and ADHD. This grant has allowed me to not worry about having a job while going to school so that I can spend the extra time I need to succeed in my classes.
Are you participating in any extracurricular activities like sports or the arts?
I was the Vice President of the Biology Club last year, and I am now one of the Co-Presidents this year. This has allowed me to look into other areas of biology and has allowed me to gain many connections with biology professors. This experience has allowed me to grow as an individual and learn how to work as a team! Due to being one of the presidents of the biology club, I was able to be an organizer of the Luke Stebbins Symposium with Dr. Roy Golsteyn, Dr. Andy Hudson, and Karina Almeida. The Luke Stebbins Symposium is an ongoing event that allows biology undergrads to present their research in front of experts and win awards.
I have also been a member of the University of Lethbridge dance team for four years. The dance team allows me to schedule time to exercise; it is so important to be active when going to school and being a part of the dance team; I have to show up, so I do not let the team down. It also allows me to do what I love on the side.
I am also a member of the Archeology Club, which does a lot of field trips where I can see sites around Alberta. They also do a lot of experimental archeology, like flint knapping and learning how to throw an atlatl, which can aid me when finding artifacts in the field to interpret how they were used. I am also a member of the Archeological Society of Alberta. Once a month, people from all over Alberta meet, and one person presents their work. The presenters are not always from Alberta, allowing me to see what projects are being done worldwide. There are even opportunities for students to present their work. The Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump excavation that I was on was presented here.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time at ULethbridge?
The most important lesson I have learned throughout my experience at the University of Lethbridge is the importance of liberal education. Liberal education allows for interdisciplinary studies, allowing people to look outside their study area and make connections to things they might not otherwise consider. This exploration is beneficial with research as it will enable you to make cross-disciplinary connections.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
For my future, I would like to be paid to do what I am passionate about. I absolutely love analyzing artifacts using my biochemistry knowledge; if I could be paid to do that, it wouldn't even feel like work. After graduating from my undergrad, I would like to do my master’s in biochemical archeology. An area where I would like to apply my knowledge would be Blackfoot Peoples’ artifacts. Throughout my university experience, I have had the privilege to work with Blackfoot elders and excavate on their land. I honestly believe that the relationship between the Blackfoot and the University is meaningful, and we can progress exponentially by collaborating.
What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?
Never say no to an opportunity that can progress your knowledge; even if you are not sure about it, you will never know unless you try. Figuring out what you don't like still helps you figure out what you like. The professors are here to help, and there are so many opportunities. Most classes have free tutorials or tutors, do not struggle in silence, and there are people at the university to help you. Connect what you learn in the classroom through work-integrated learning opportunities like applied or independent studies and co-op. If you do not know if you are in the right degree, find some hands-on experience. This will allow you to see if you would like doing the work outside the classroom and if you would like to do this type of work as your career. The University of Lethbridge also has a club for basically anything. If you are looking for friends, go to club rush week and find something you like and join it, you will make lifelong friends here. If you ever need anything, look it up; the University of Lethbridge most likely has it.
Top things to do in or around Lethbridge:
- Walking in the coulees and watching the sunsets; they are absolutely stunning.
- I like visiting archeological sites around Lethbridge; there are many in southern Alberta. Some examples are Medicine Wheels, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Writing on Stone and Wally's Beach.
- I love to go to the Lethbridge corn maze every year with my friends from university.
Favourite class: Animal Physiology
Favourite social activity at ULethbridge: The University of Lethbridge Dance Team
Favourite place to study: 9th floor of the science building, looking towards the library.
About Shining Students
Shining Students engage inside and outside of the classroom. What makes a student shine may differ from person to person, but they all share a passion for learning. They may be top students, involved in an innovative project, participating in ground-breaking research, playing Pronghorn athletics, fighting for social issues or all of the above! When students find something they enjoy and combine it with what they are good at, they shine.
Each year, the Faculty of Arts & Science's faculty and staff nominate students who exemplify the ULethbridge student spirit. Congratulations Ally!