Taren’s final homework assignment
Taren Ginter is among the more than 1,500 students graduating from the Faculty of Science this month. We asked Taren, 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’s Taren’s final homework assignment.
The best advice you got as a student?
Take breaks when you need to. I know it seems obvious, but I struggled a lot in throughout undergrad with feeling like I couldn’t take a break or ask for help. When I finally reached out, my professors were amazing, and the McMaster community helped me a lot. So many resources (social, academic, and health) are amazingly useful, and I definitely recommend using them! I also had a professor tell me that I needed a break at one point, and he was right. I didn’t realize it, but I was pushing myself past my breaking point, and learning to take a step back when needed was super helpful. Learning how to say “no” is HUGELY important, and this was something I am so grateful to have been told.
The best advice you’d give to a first-year student?
Savour your time at Mac (it goes by SO quickly), and take it easy on yourself! I also always encourage students to get involved, but don’t push yourself too hard. Some of my favourite memories at McMaster and proudest accomplishments came from clubs that I joined in first year. I would definitely recommend joining groups that appeal to your interests, especially if they aren’t directly related to your studies. This being said, it can be super overwhelming juggling first-year studies and the transition to uni, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to immediately join every single club. Be kind to yourself and push yourself outside of your comfort zone while also recognizing your limits. ALSO (sorry for the long list) – put yourself out there and take pride in your accomplishments! You’ll never know if you would have received a scholarship or a research position if you don’t ask.
The professor who pushed you the hardest and challenged you to aim higher?
My thesis supervisor, Dr. Rheinstädter! He gives the best advice about school and academia. It can be hard to hear since it’s very truthful, but he’s always right and it’s stuck with me! He absolutely pushed me to go above and beyond in my thesis, and I’m so grateful for his support.
The unsung heroes who went above and beyond for you at McMaster?
Oof, there are SO many! I’ll have to say Dr. Chad Harvey who was an amazing support throughout all four years. He helped a lot when I was struggling at various points throughout my time at Mac and I probably wouldn’t still be at McMaster if it wasn’t for all of his help.
The one thing you never got around to doing?
Eating at Willy Dog! I guess this is because I’m vegetarian but I just learned they do veggie dogs and I feel like I really missed out on this core experience in first year.
The one thing you’ll miss the most about McMaster?
The community! I love walking onto campus and seeing so many friendly faces, which sounds SO cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve really come to love McMaster, and I’m going to miss seeing my friends, professors, and peers on a daily basis. From studying in Thode and PG to eating lunch on BSB field, I’m really going to miss the little day-to-day interactions.
The most important thing you learned in the classroom?
Well, probably core physics and science concepts to be quite literal, but I’d say learning how to study was the most important thing in the classroom. In high school I could get by with just brute force memorization and that doesn’t work when you have a heavy workload. Learning how to utilize new study techniques like active recall, or effectively completing practice problems made a huge difference.
The most important thing you learned outside the classroom?
That it’s ESSENTIAL to make time for yourself! I don’t really know if I actually do this well, but I came to realize that having some small amount of self-care time is essential. Whether it’s going out with friends or decompressing with a movie, learning to take some time away from purely academic work is SO important.
Your best day as a Mac student?
Oooh, this is a toss-up between three (sorry!)- last day of term 1 in first year (was so proud of making it), watching the NEUDOSE satellite launch to the International Space Station (need I say more?!?! SO COOL) and getting to interview Bill Nye on stage in front of a full house at FirstOntario Concert Hall on a random Tuesday night in March after a normal day of classes!
The one thing you know now that you didn’t know on your first day at McMaster?
How much I’d struggle in first year, but how proud I am that I stuck with it. I didn’t anticipate how hugely anxiety-inducing the transition to university would be, so first-day me had no clue I’d spend most of first term calling my parents multiple times of day and looking into transferring. After reaching out and getting help at McMaster, I was able to cope with this anxiety and manage it, and I’m so incredibly glad I stayed because I have zero regrets about that choice. I now know that I’m able to handle crazy stressful, anxiety-inducing scenarios, even if it’s super hard!”
A moment that mattered at Mac?
Getting to present my thesis presentation. I had a lot of super exciting moments this year, but this was one that felt like the culmination of so much hard work and I was so proud getting to present my work. It was also a super stressful week, as I’d just come back from NASA Johnson and was helping with iSci Society events, so getting to see everything run smoothly was a big relief.
What was it like being a student at Mac during the pandemic?
Very, very challenging. iSci is a super hands-on program, so it was extremely difficult to pivot online. I found it very isolating and hard to focus on schoolwork in such a turbulent time. I wish I could say something more positive about it, but I honestly found it pretty awful just being a student and doing online courses.
The integrated graduate program at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Taren’s McMaster highlights reel:
- 4 years in research groups
- iSci Society president
- NEUDOSE volunteer
- 2X conference winner