This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2021. Visit our Class of 2021 virtual space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates.
Alex Oprea's years at Dal have been defined by her dedication to ensuring science students have the necessary tools to get the most out of their degrees.
But her desire to get involved started even before she got to Dal. As a high school student at Citadel High in Halifax (her hometown), Alex was heavily involved with student council and knew she wanted to participate in similar activities at university.
Turns out, Dal had many opportunities for her to do just that.
“I remember I walked into the student union building and I saw on a poster that the DSS was recruiting a first-year representative. I ran for the position and although I was not elected, I was able to join the DSS first-year committee and to stay on the society the full year. That year, I went to every council meeting” says Alex.
Alex’s continued determination led to her being elected to the executive of the society, first as the director of marketing and then serving two terms as president in her third and fourth years.
Alex is graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Neuroscience with a minor in Health Studies this spring and will be attending medical school in the fall.
Giving back to the community
One of the biggest accomplishments Alex had as DSS president was her leadership in the development of the peer-mentorship program. The mentorship program started when Alex was in her third year at Dal and has been an extremely successful way for new students to interact with their peers.
During Alex’s first year at university, she was able to see herself in her professors and in the president of the DSS at the time. “I could ask them questions and relate to them. I knew there were so many other students who did not have the ability to get to do that, so I wanted to be able to create a safe space where people could have access that mentorship with someone that they could look up to and ask questions” says Alex.
Dealing with a remote school year, more students began to rely on the support the program offered. “Students needed that support more than ever because they didn't have peers physically around them. If we had not started the peer mentorship program, we wouldn't have had that support in place when the pandemic started – that is something I think many students are grateful for,” says Alex.
Outside of being president, Alex was also the Dalhousie Site Coordinator for Lets Talk Science. She participated in the Let’s Talk Science challenge when she was in grade eight and was excited for the opportunity to become a science outreach volunteer in university.
In this role, Alex spearheaded a science outreach event as part of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, that began February 11, 2020.
“We had activities relating to different areas of science and before we jumped into the activity, the youth in attendance learned about female scientists that contributed to that particular field, like female astronauts and chemists.” says Alex.
Her honours research project focused on “the influence of menstrual cycle phase, and the related hormones, on verbal working memory in females” says Alex, adding that it was a great way to wrap her degree.
A key skill set that Alex learned throughout her degree is communication.
“I have really enjoyed communicating science and I think that's an important skill to have learned, especially going into the medical field,” says Alex.
Looking back at her time at Dal, Alex’s advice for new and returning students is to get involved with the community.
“Everyone must start somewhere, and it could really change the way your whole university experience turns out. I would really recommend trying something new and getting involved in extra curriculars at any chance you get – it really changed my educational experience and truly set me up for a success."
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