Celebrating the graduates of Spring 2020: Erin St Jean

June 12 marks the first virtual celebration of convocation for the class of Spring 2020. Join us in celebrating the graduates and meeting the class.

News Staff - 02 June 2020

Alberta is world-renowned for its fossil record—but of equal renown on the global stage is the paleontology program in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science, which is ranked third in the world according to the Center for World University Rankings.

As we celebrate the graduates of Spring 2020 via a virtual convocation ceremony on June 12, meet Erin St Jean, graduating with a BSc Specialization in paleontology in the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. St Jean shares her experiences at UAlberta, her work as a summer camp leader in the Faculty of Science Summer Camps, and how she’s pursuing her passion for science communication.

What led you to pick the University of Alberta for your studies?

The reason that I picked UAlberta is that it has a really great paleontology program, plus it's close to my hometown, so I could live at home while I was in school.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

I had a fantastic experience in the Faculty of Science! I had the opportunity to take many interesting classes and meet really interesting people, both staff and students. I also made lots of friends and discovered new interests (turns out that insects are really cool).

During my degree, I had the opportunity to work on a couple of research projects and present at two different conferences, which gave me really valuable academic and life experience. Besides academics, I also volunteered as a Student Science Mentor for two years, worked as a summer camp leader for the Faculty of Science Summer Camps for three summers, and was a member of the UAlberta Palaeontological Society for all five years of my degree, and was even president for a year.

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

I have a lot of favourite memories, but I think that my most favourite memory is an entomology lab field trip into the Edmonton River Valley. I had taken a few lab field trips into the river valley with biology and Earth and atmospheric science labs, but the entomology trip was the most fun because we got to collect and identify living insects—which is more fun than identifying preserved museum specimens.

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

My first piece of advice is to be open to new opportunities. Do research projects, join student groups, take classes that aren't directly associated with your degree if you can! You'll meet different people and gain really useful knowledge and skills from these experiences. 

My second piece of advice is to make sure that you find a school and personal life balance. Grades are important, but so is having a really great friend group that you can turn to when you're stressed during exams and celebrate with after those exams are done.

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

I've been taking some online classes for fun, improving my cooking skills, and doing yoga and going for walks around my neighbourhood to keep active.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

My family had a nice dinner together, and we had some cake to celebrate convocation.

What's next after graduation?

I'll be taking journalism at SAIT in September, and I plan to work in science journalism after that.