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Marie‑Elssa Morency talks about 2nd year

A day in the life

Marie‑Elssa Morency talks about 2nd year

marie-elssa_morency_neuroscience_profile

A lot of what we learn relates to Huntington's, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's—and my grandmother has Parkinson's disease, so it offers a level of personal interest for me as well.

Swapping the west coast for the east coast


Ready to embark on her university career, Marie-Elssa Morency traded in her recreational haven in Okanagan, British Columbia for waves and new adventures in the Maritimes.  

“I heard the people in Halifax were really friendly, and I also have family and friends who went to Dal. So after talking to them and researching the university and Halifax, I was intrigued and decided Dal was the school for me."

Initially planning to pursue a degree in biology, Marie-Elssa was introduced to the Neuroscience program by some students in her first-year Physics course. “I didn't even know you could do an undergraduate degree in neuroscience," she says, "so I was excited to learn it was an option. Neuroscience offers so many interesting domains."

Marie-Elssa is looking forward to doing more lab work next year. "Right now, it's a lot of lectures. The material goes into great depth, but the profs present it really well—they’re really engaging and friendly. They're always smiling and making up silly neuroscience jokes," she laughs.

"They're also really helpful if you have any questions or need advice,” she continues. “Dr. Phillips gave us tips on what we should be thinking about to get into research or med school, as well as life tips in general. He's one of those professors who can balance the personal and professional side of being a prof—he genuinely wants to see his students excel."

To strike her own balance, Marie-Elssa is involved in a number of activities, including intramural soccer, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. She's also vice-president of the Rotaract Club, something she's been involved in since she was young. And once a week she volunteers with Capital Health, working with the veterans at the Victoria General (VG) Hospital.

Next year, she'll be doing a one-year student exchange to Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In addition to the opportunity to travel and meet new people, she'll experience a new learning model. Maastricht uses an educational approach that is different from traditional teaching methods. This method is known as Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Students work in small tutorial groups, actively seeking practical solutions to scientific and real-world problems.

To other students looking to get involved, Marie-Elssa recommends a number of resources. "There's a society fair held in September and it's a great way to meet other students who share common interests—whether it's humanitarian aid, playing an instrument, or speaking a different language, its all there at the society fair." She also notes the variety of events and activities happening around campus. In her first year, she signed up for a Quidditch tournament with some friends in residence as part of a cancer fundraiser. “I had no idea it would be so much fun running around on brooms," she laughs.

"If you're a new student at Dal and your parents are moving you in, say your goodbyes before Orientation Week starts so you can attend all the activities," she adds. "Don't be intimidated. The student leaders are there to help ease you into things, and you'll meet so many great people in the same boat as you."