Have you met the F/AiRs?

Residence Life - 26 February 2021

First off, what’s a FiR and AiR?

Moin Yahya, Professor in the Faculty of Law, is our Faculty in Residence (FiR), and Raiany Dias de Andrade Silva is our Academic in Residence (AiR), working on her PhD in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. In their residence roles, they help support students with a variety of academic resources. Raiany also works closely with the Peer Tutors to provide residents with a variety of academic support for almost every faculty! We sat down with Moin and Raiany to learn a bit more about each of them and how they can help support residents in their university careers.

Please tell us a bit about yourselves

Moin: I have been a faculty in residence on and off since 2007. I also lived in university residences throughout my studies. As such, I am aware of the needs of students who live on campus. I also teach at the faculty of law. My role is to provide academic support and guidance for students regardless of what your need or concern is. Please contact me and I will always try to find the answer for you. If you have any questions regarding your academics whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, please contact me at myahya@ualberta.ca.

Raiany: I am a PhD student at the University of Alberta. I study (and work with) trees in the program of Forest Biology and Management. And I also work with Residence Services! I help manage the Peer Tutoring program and I am also available to help students with their academics—preparing for conferences or presentations, life as an international student, campus living, or anything you might need to talk about really. I am available to talk with you during my office hours, which are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am–12 pm. Feel free to send me an email at diasdean@ualberta.ca or listerar@ualberta.ca to schedule a meeting or ask any questions you might have.

What can you help me with?

Moin: The short answer is whatever you want to ask me about, whether it is academic or non-academic advice. In the past, I have assisted students with questions such as course and program selestion, study tips, help writing papers... I can also discuss post-graduate programs like Medicine, Law or Business, as well as questions about graduate schools. Résumés, cover letters and interview tips are also something I can discuss. But again, whatever you think you have a question about, send me an e-mail, and I will see if I can help.

Raiany: Whenever you have a concern you can contact me by email or during my office hours and I will do my best to help. We can talk about your academics, goals, preparing for graduate school, conferences, life on campus, life as an international student, and many other topics.

How can I start preparing for grad school in undergrad?

Moin: Think about what it is you are interested in now. Then discuss the program of study with your professors or TAs. If you have a specific school in mind, you can contact some professors there to see if there is a good fit. You can also contact me for more one-on-one advice.

Raiany: If you are interested in grad school, a good starting point is to check the options available for you. For example, explore research groups in your home school and in other universities you might be interested in, contact potential supervisors, and check program requirements.

I want to go into law! Can you give me some advice?

Moin: You need a decent GPA and LSAT score, so focus on raising your GPA towards the end of your degree. As well, practice the LSAT before taking it. Talk to law students or the admission advisers in the faculties you are interested in. You can also chat some more about this with me.

What should I do if I want to switch programs?

Moin: You should speak with the faculty advisor for the program you wish to switch to. The application to switch is straightforward, and I can direct you in the right direction once you have decided on a program. The faculty advisor can also do that.

I have a concern but I don't know how to talk to my TA/professor. They seem scary.

Raiany: When unsure about how to approach someone who is in a position of power, which makes you feel insecure about talking to them, you can use one of the university support services, such as the Office of the Student Ombuds. They are trained to guide you through difficult conversations (and other types of support).

Moin: You can always chat with them. Send them an e-mail requesting an appointment to speak. Once you get that, just ask them what you are concerned about.

How can I bounce back after poor grades?

Moin: Chat with an academic advisor about study habits. Focus on what works for your studying and what doesn’t. Avoid distractions, but make sure you have a healthy balance between work and all other necessities like sleed, food, exercise, etc.

Raiany: Studying can be hard and now it feels much harder with the pandemic. If you did not do so well last term, try to rethink your studying habits, focus on your goals, but also take some time to find balance in your life. It is important to rest and feel refreshed, this way you will be able to focus and learn better.

What general advice would you give to students this year?

Moin: Hang in there. These are unprecedented times and everyone is under a lot of stress and pressure. Things will get better eventually, so don’t give up hope. Chat with myself or any other advisor.

Raiany: Take advantage of the opportunities and services available for you. And enjoy your time! Being at university is a unique experience, so live it!