Environmental science student, Makenna Kleiner, chose the University of Lethbridge due to its outstanding science programs and the incredible facilities in the Science Commons. Although she began her studies in general science, Makenna discovered her passion for environmental science and wildlife after taking courses in biology. Makenna's future plans include pursuing a Master's in wildlife biology and becoming a Wildlife Biologist focused on research and conservation. Her advice to incoming students is to be confident in their abilities, take advantage of opportunities, and learn from the best at ULethbridge.

University is a great way to expand your horizon and explore fields you may have never considered; you will meet like-minded people and people who challenge your previous ideas.

Meet Makenna | Organizer. Problem-Solver. Collaborator.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Environmental Science

Why did you choose ULethbridge?

I chose the University of Lethbridge due to its outstanding science programs. The Science Commons had just been completed when I was looking to apply, and some of my friends who had attended the year prior to me said the professors were amazing and it was an inspiring environment to be in.

Did you know what you wanted to study before you came to ULethbridge? Has your academic plan changed since you began your studies?

I entered the University of Lethbridge in a general science program with streams focusing on biology, kinesiology and psychology. Once I began taking my courses, I realized my passion for wildlife and the environment could combine with my love of biology, leading me to my current degree of a BSc in environmental science. This degree has put me on a path that will allow me to pursue a rewarding career and lifestyle.

Have you participated in experiential or work-integrated learning?

I completed an independent study in Dr. Steve Wiseman's lab studying toxicology within the biological sciences department.

My three biggest takeaways from this experience were, first of all, my love of research; this sparked a new passion and hopeful career for myself. Secondly, I deeply appreciated scientists such as Dr. Steve Wiseman from the Department of Biological Sciences and grad students Chloe Devoy and Yasmin Raza. The work they are doing and the knowledge they are pursuing are so profound and important, and I feel extremely grateful to have been a small part of it. Finally, my biggest takeaway from this experience is how fortunate we are at the University of Lethbridge to have access to such amazing learning opportunities and to be in a community with such influential people.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience so far?

My most memorable ULethbridge experience so far has to be my independent study and participation in the Geography Club. We recently attended the Western Division, Canadian Association of Geographers (WDCAG), which was a fantastic experience.

How have your professors impacted your education?

My professors have significantly impacted my education. Learning from extraordinarily passionate and knowledgeable individuals has allowed me to pursue and explore areas of interest that I may have never attempted if not for them.

I have been lucky to have many great professors in my degree thus far, but the one who has been most impactful in my studies has been Dr. Steve Wiseman. I had never been a part of research until I completed my independent study; he offered me the chance at a huge opportunity that has shaped my goals and future career. I wouldn't have considered research until I was a part of this independent study. It sparked a passion I wasn't aware of before this experience. Jennifer Burke, who taught my biology 1020 class, and Jean-Denys Hamel, who taught my organic chemistry class, are both inspiring educators and remarkable people. If there is an opportunity, I would highly recommend taking a class with any of these professors if you have the chance!

Is there anyone else who has had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

Grad students Chloe Devoy and Yamin Raza have significantly influenced my ULethbridge experience; they are both outstanding students and mentors who have inspired me immensely. In environmental science, we also complete a technical term through Lethbridge College, and this experience has been very important in my learning — the hands-on skills and practical knowledge I have acquired are invaluable.

Have you received any scholarships and awards?

I have received multiple awards through ULethbridge, including the Jason Lang and CAPP/EPAC scholarships. These awards have helped me along my academic journey immensely. They allowed me to focus on my studies rather than worrying about my finances. I am incredibly grateful to the donors for giving me such an opportunity!

Are you participating in any extracurricular activities like sports or the arts? If so, how are these experiences enhancing or complimenting what you do in the classroom?

I am a part of the Geography Club, and I've always been associated with art as I grew up attending an art school. Extracurriculars allow you to be a more well-rounded student and person; it teaches you multiple perspectives and personal responsibility.

In your free time, what do you like to do? What are your favourite hobbies?

I spend much of my free time with my two dogs, Lincoln and Rowan, who are both under two years old (COVID puppies), so they still have lots of puppy energy. I enjoy hiking, camping and bird identification. I also spend a lot of my time at the gym or at Unite, a spin studio. The rest of my free time is often spent studying for my classes!

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

My tentative plan for the future is to pursue a Master's degree in wildlife biology once I graduate from my undergrad, with hopes to eventually become a Wildlife Biologist working in Alberta or British Columbia. My dream is to protect animals and the environment through research and conservation.

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

My advice to someone beginning their journey at ULethbridge would be to be confident in your abilities and take every opportunity available. You are capable of anything you set your mind to, and university creates an environment where you can learn from the best. The opportunities available to students at the school are endless, but many people do not take the time to learn about them and miss out on experiences that will propel your career in the right direction!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your decision to pursue a university degree?

University is a great way to expand your horizon and explore fields you may have never considered; you will meet like-minded people and people who challenge your previous ideas. I think the greatest takeaway from university is how much we don't know. Learning is a privilege and something that cannot be taken away from you!


What are three awesome things about yourself?

I am naturally optimistic and always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I am very curious, so I have come to love research, and finally, I love animals!

Favourite place on campus?

My favourite class/place on campus is anything within the Science Commons Building; there is both amazing architecture and beautiful views!

Favourite activities to do in southern Alberta?

My favourite activities in Southern Alberta would be exploring the coulees, hiking, camping and skiing due to the proximity to the mountains!

Favourite place to study?

My favourite place to study is the quiet side of the library close to the windows, as it offers an amazing view!

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 Makenna!

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