Science Valedictorian Sanya Vij

Sci Sanya Vij 980x580

Faculty of Science valedictorian Sanya Vij graduates June 16 with an Honours BSc in Life Sciences. We caught up to her and asked a few questions to get to know her better. Here’s what Vij had to say.

“This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article.


I chose McMaster because it felt like such a tight-knit community as soon as I stepped foot on campus during one of the preview days. Along with that, the interdisciplinary nature of the life sciences program drew me in because it stood out against other programs and schools.

I also really appreciated how much the students at Mac appreciate and prioritize life outside of just school and academics — this was especially important to me as it allowed me to grow as a person and leader without constantly attaching the label of “student” to myself.


After travelling to Europe and the West Coast this summer, I’ll be back at Mac! I was recently accepted into the MSc. Global Health program, so I’ll be back here in September and cannot wait for this new start.


Networking can be your best friend, especially if you’re new to the world of academia and post-secondary education. Put yourself out there and connect with people you look up to — you never know who will take the time of day to take you under their wing and help you out in your journey, so take advantage whenever you can.


I know it might sound cheesy and it’s definitely easier said than done, but jumping out of your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and you will pleasantly surprise yourself when you see what you’re capable of!

Ask for help even if you don’t think you need it — upper-year students, your profs and other faculty members are all here to support you and see you succeed, so don’t hold back based on fear or nerves.

Lastly, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses once in a while – you’re here for a reason and you deserve your spot at this school so take a few moments to take it all in as you’re going through the motions.

Survivor Maryanne Oketch credits win to adaptability


“This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article.

McMaster graduate Maryanne Oketch credits her win on the reality show Survivor to her adaptability – a skill she says she honed during her time in the integrated science (iSci) program.

“I remember there were times when experiments would fail, and they’d fail again, and fail again,” says Oketch as she recalls doing thesis work in the lab of Karen Mossman, McMaster’s vice-president of research.

“It can be very disheartening. But that’s when you sit back and realize, ‘Let me try something new. Let me figure something out.’”

Oketch, who won season 42 of the show, says those laboratory experiences proved to be a training ground for lessons she carried with her into the competition.

“On Survivor if my plans didn't work out the way that I thought they were going to work out, I wouldn’t be like ‘Oh well,’” says Oketch. “I’d figure out what's the next plan. Let's figure out what's next. I wouldn’t just give up and lie down.”

Hartley Jafine, a co-instructor with Jennifer Nash of a McMaster that uses Survivor as a platform to analyse issues like leadership, ethics, morality and representations of race, says Oketch’s interpersonal skills were also key to her success.

“During the only time her tribe went to tribal council before the merge, the options seemed to be Marya or Maryanne to vote out. What saved Maryanne was the connection and relationship she built with the other players of her tribe.”

McMaster graduate Maryanne Oketch says her adaptability is what helped her win season 42 of Survivor. The finale aired two weeks ago.Since then, the messages of congratulations have been rolling in, including many from members of the McMaster community.

“I'm feeling the love from McMaster. I really am.”

Oketch says she is currently working at her church and taking some time to figure out what’s next, including a possible return to school.

Asked what advice she would give to McMaster students, Oketch says to try to find a balance between working towards long-term goals while also remembering to enjoy the journey.

The Sole Survivor also shared some more direct advice.

“If you've never left Westdale, and you go to McMaster, leave Westdale. There's some cool things outside of there.”

iSci grad Maryanne Oketch wins Survivor

a winner

Story originally posted as a daily news article

MAY 26, 2022

McMaster iSci grad Maryanne Oketch’s win on CBS Survivor 42 might have surprised some viewers, but people who knew her at Mac saw it coming.

“We’re not even slightly surprised. Maryanne was always going to accomplish amazing things,” says Integrated Science Professor Carolyn Eyles, who remembers taking note of Oketch’s sense of curiosity and strong personality right from her very first week in the program.

“She has a real sense of community and she isn’t afraid to question anything.”

Over the course of Season 42 of the reality show, Oketch took on the elements on a Fijian island, as well as a series of mental, physical and interpersonal challenges.

She also stayed true to her word about wearing her heart on her sleeve and not being afraid to speak up, initiating  a frank conversation about unconscious biases after watching Black contestants get voted off one after the other.

Meet Maryanne Oketch

“It’s so surreal,” Oketch told CBS after her win.

After the intense experience, the return to her regular life and family was a bit rough, Oketch says.

But in addition to the $1-million prize, there are some benefits to being on the show: She’s dating someone who decided to shoot his shot after she professed her weakness for “skinny white guys” on the show.

So would she appear on Survivor again? Yes, but only after she’s had a few years to have other experiences and adventures.

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Symons

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Sarah Symons, who received the 2022 President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning. Sarah's letter from President David Farrar reads "In particular, the Selection Committee was deeply impressed by your student-centred instruction and multidimensional means of providing mentorship, as well as your positive impact on education, both at McMaster and internationally." 


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