Helen Hanbidge talks about third year

A day in the life

Helen Hanbidge talks about third year

I've learned a lot about how the system works and how to work with it to achieve change.




Nurturing a love of politics

Growing up in the nation’s capital, Helen Hanbidge fell in love with politics at an early age. Exploring the subject as a student in Dalhousie’s Political Science program has nurtured that feeling.

Helen’s passion for politics has evolved at Dal. The professors and fellow students in the Political Science program have helped her develop a deeper understanding of the political landscape and the impact she can have on it.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, but before I came to Dal I was more interested in the development or humanitarian side,” she explains. “It was after taking a couple of classes that I realized the better way to change things is to work within and alongside the system.

“I’ve learned a lot about how the system works and how to work with it to achieve change.”

Helen is a fourth-year student with a second major in History, which she says is an excellent complement to her Political Science education.

“I had opinions about what was going on, in Canadian politics especially, but learning about the theories and the history behind it gives you more context.”

Development through debate

Helen has been able to apply centuries of political thinking to the discussions about current events that animate Political Science classrooms.

“Part of Dr. Brian Bow’s diplomacy class is a simulation where everyone is given positions within the government of a made-up country,” she says. “For an entire three-hour class you’re making trade deals and trying to avert war and things like that.

“It was so much fun to see the hands-on aspect of diplomacy.”

While the debates can be heated, Helen says the sense of community that arises from small class sizes helps to foster an open, respectful environment.

“There’s a lot of discussion and even though it is politics and opinions can be very strong, everyone respects each other.”

The Political Science program has also served as a springboard to real-world opportunities. She’s spent two years as a page in the Nova Scotia Legislature, where she saw day-to-day politics play out in real time.

A reference letter from a professor helped Helen get the job at the Legislature – just one example of how the faculty members in Political Science support students.

“They’ve all been so willing to work with me outside the classroom and help me out. If I need a reference letter or help narrowing down an essay topic, they’re there.”

Life in the vibrant Dal community

When she’s not in class, studying or preparing papers, Helen is deeply involved in the Dalhousie community. She is a campus tour guide and the fourth-year representative for the Dalhousie Undergraduate Political Science Society. And although she no longer lives in residence, she enjoys an active social life with the diverse group of students she met at Risley Hall.

“I’ve been able to meet people from all over the country, as well as international students. That really helped me to find my place at Dal.”

Having found her place, Helen remains inspired by her fellow students – who, like her, are determined to make an impact.

“There are people who are working really hard to make change in the world,” she says. “There’s so much of that at Dal.”