Celebrating the graduates of Spring 2020: Leah Auch

Meet Leah Auch, graduating with a BSc in psychology in the Department of Psychology, with a minor in linguistics.

News Staff - 6 June 2020

Convocation is a time to celebrate the hard work of our graduates and all they’ve achieved during their time in the Faculty of Science. The challenges of COVID-19 have required that we take the celebration online this year, with UAlberta’s first-ever virtual convocation on June 12—and we invite you to join us in celebrating the class on Spring 2020 online.

Today, meet Leah Auch, graduating with a BSc in psychology with a minor in linguistics from the Department of Psychology, and hear how she’s pursued her goal of studying speech-language pathology, about her time at UAlberta, and how a lasting friendship started on her very first day of class.

What led you to pick UAlberta for your studies?

Before starting my degree, I knew I wanted to go into speech-language pathology. Since the University of Alberta offers the program, I thought the university would be a great opportunity to become familiar with the field and get some relevant experience during my undergrad. Not only that, but my family has a long legacy of UAlberta alumni—there are now nine of us!

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

Initially, I found it daunting. I was new to Edmonton, and class sizes in first year were larger than my entire high school. I wasn’t very involved in the faculty per se—and I had no interest in research at first. Instead, I focused more on finding friends on campus, joining campus clubs, and volunteering. Because of a serendipitous opportunity in my second year, I’m now glad to say that research has been a huge part of my undergrad. I’ve had the opportunity to make presentations at two international conferences (although one was cancelled due to COVID-19), and am also currently in the peer-review process for another publication.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at UAlberta?

Like many other eager first year science students, I showed up excessively early to my first class on my first day and waited outside the lecture hall. I had the classic exchange with another student: she asked, “Is this PHYS 114?”, I said yes—after double-checking we were in the right place. After a few minutes of semi-awkward silence, we struck up a real conversation and sat together. The next class we met another friend, and we became a trio. We’ve never taken another class together, but the three of us have been friends ever since.

What advice do you have for current and future students at the Faculty of Science?

Get involved in research as soon as you can. It’s been one of the best parts of my experience in the Faculty of Science. Research is a great opportunity for everyone, and there are so many diverse opportunities in different departments. Find an area you’re interested in. Talk to your professors of classes you enjoy. Email them and see if they have room in their labs for an undergraduate student. You won’t know if you don’t ask!

How have you spent your time during COVID-19 distancing?

The first few weeks? Not much other than classes, naps, video chats, and Netflix. Now I’ve found a bit of a routine—I’m still doing research part-time, and spending more time on my hobbies, like playing guitar or reading, that I have less time for normally. Like many people, my social life is now online, and I find myself wishing I had invested in Zoom ages ago.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

Currently I don’t have specific plans, but I know it will involve my family and the close friends—whether over video chat or at a safe social distance.

What's next after graduation?

I’m happy to say that I’ve been accepted to the MSc program in speech-language pathology at UAlberta. I cannot wait to start this program in Fall 2020. Thank you to all my family, friends, classmates, and professors who have supported me in pursuing this goal.