Jonah’s final homework assignment
Jonah Lehman is among the more than 1,500 McMaster students graduating from the Faculty of Science on June 15th. We asked Jonah, and nine other remarkable students, to look back at their time at McMaster and share what they learned, what they’ll miss and who helped them along the way. Here are the answers to Jonah’s final homework assignment.
The best advice you got as a student?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
The best advice you’d give to a first-year student?
Don’t try too hard to choose your own path because life always chooses a path for you. Students often forget that university is a place for you to learn about yourself and what your interests truly are. Going into university with a preconceived idea of what you want to be may set yourself up for failure.
The professor who pushed you the hardest and challenged you to aim higher?
Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser
The unsung hero who went above and beyond for you at McMaster?
Reta Meng – my partner. She was always there to provide support whenever I needed help throughout my struggles.
The one thing you never got around to doing?
Exploring Hamilton. There are a lot of great places to see during the summers but I unfortunately never got to experience it because I spent most of my time away doing fieldwork.
The one thing you’ll miss the most about McMaster?
To be honest, I’d have to say it was the Life Science’s Building lobby. It’s being renovated now, but during my undergrad, it was a dark, crusty cavern that I used to study in. I think I liked it because there was nobody used it and there were no distractions.
The most important thing you learned in the classroom?
Geographic Information Systems and how to apply these skills in research
The most important thing you learned outside the classroom?
How to build relationships and connect with people.
Your best day as a Mac student?
When I successfully defended my Master’s thesis.
The one thing you know now that you didn’t know on you first day at McMaster?
The rigor and effort involved in scientific research.
A moment that mattered at Mac?
The day that I was told that I wasn’t fit to do a Masters. While I think it was hard for me to hear, it pushed me to work harder and prove myself.
What was it like being a student at Mac during the pandemic?
Challenging. The pandemic hit near the end of my undergrad at Mac, meaning I had to face lockdowns for the last year of my undergrad and work from home for the first year of my Masters. It felt unsafe to go outside, or see friends and family, and fieldwork (which I always looked forward to) was even cancelled during one summer. While adjusting to lockdowns and learning to effectively work from home was difficult, I found the biggest challenge was adjusting to a “normal” lifestyle when things started to go back to being in person. I think there were a lot of students like me who developed bad habits because they felt like they didn’t need to take care of themselves as they didn’t have to be around people. While I have slowly made progress throughout my Masters, I can say with confidence that the person I was before COVID-19 is very different student than the person I am now.
I’ve been hired as the Lands Officer for Moose Deer Point First Nation, a community that I worked with extensively during my Masters. I’ll be helping to work on their Land Law and develop their species-at-risk freshwater turtle conservation program.
Jonah’s McMaster highlight reel:
- Honours BSc (Biology) with a minor in Geographic Information Systems
- MSc (Biology) under the supervision of Dr. Chow-Fraser
- Field Research Assistant in the Chow-Fraser Wetland Ecology Lab