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Dear First Year Me

We asked members of the university community—professors and staff who attended UNB, students and alumni—what advice they would give to incoming first year students based on their experience at UNB. We also asked that they submit a photo of themselves from when they were in first year. The following is a selection of the responses we received. 

Sarah DeVarenne

Support Staff
Date of first year: 1989
“If I were to give myself advice starting university it would be to remember that university will be different from high school.  Do your best, work hard,  but keep in mind that it’s OK if not all your grades look like they did in high school.  Don’t let that stress you out.”

Matthew Sears

Associate Professor of Classics & Ancient History
Date of first year: 2000
“My advice to first-year students is: Study what interests you, and don’t be afraid to change your interests and explore new subjects and ideas.  If you are excited by what you learn, you’ll have a better and more productive time at UNB—and ultimately, will be a happier and more fulfilled person.”

Kevin Englehart

Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
Date of first year: 1984
“Work hard, but get out there and be involved—not just in events and groups in your own faculty, but across campus. UNB offers such an incredibly vibrant and culturally rich environment. You will learn so much about life by meeting people and being exposed to ideas that reinforce and challenge your own; don’t follow, but lead.”

David Lentz

Economic Geology Chair UNB/Earth Sciences Professor
Date of first year: 1979
“I always strongly encourage students to attend all classes. I never missed classes, even when I was not doing so great. Also, I never gave up—even when I was sure I would not pass; I paid, so I went, enjoyed and passed.”

Edmund Biden

Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Date of first year: 1974
“Be confident that UNB will give you a good education.  I moved from UNB as an undergraduate to Oxford for Graduate Studies and always felt well prepared in comparison to others from around the world. Make space in each week for volunteering, recreation and rest. Use the time at UNB to explore the range of things in which you are interested.  Go to special lectures, visit the art centre regularly,  spend a little time each week in the library reading about things which stretch your mind, enjoy the time as a student.”

Mathew Gracie

Student, third year, Media Arts and Cultures
Date of first year: 2015
“My advice is to be open and welcoming of change and all the new and exciting things life has to offer. University is an amazing place to get to know yourself and others, and to create a community of wonderful people. Put yourself out there and try new things. Get to know your community and be a part [of it]. It might be challenging at first to balance school, work and whatever else—but it’s totally worth it to go out and be involved.”

Michaela Finnamore

Student, fifth year
Date of first year: 2013
“My advice for anyone would be to meet with your professors and advisors frequently to ensure you are on-track for your courses and your degree requirements. If you stay in contact with your professors and show them that you are genuinely trying to succeed, many will go above and beyond to help you. Take advantage of office hours and the Writing Centre. Don’t be too hard on yourself, either. University is a big change, especially if you are just coming out of high school; it will take time to get adjusted and balance your course load, and there will be times that it will be hard—but don’t let that discourage you. UNB is a great place to be and there are tons of resources available to help you, so make sure you take advantage of them and enjoy your time here!”

Haley Doak

Student, 3rd year of Arts
Date of first year: 2015
“Don’t skip class ‘cause you drank five days that week. Go to the gym. Find your real life friends for life—they’ll change your life.”

Hilary White-Bird

Student, Masters of Education in Counselling
Date of first year: 2012
“Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Tyler Sargent

Student, third year Software Engineering,
Date of first year: 2015
“It’s a cliche, but I would 100 per cent tell myself not to get caught up on one grade or assignment that you aren’t pleased with; instead, focus on what you should do better next time.”

Kristen Ingraham

Student, first year of Education,
Date of first year: 2014
“Get involved as much as you can, but don’t forget to take time for yourself.”

Hannah Fournier

Student, first year of Education 
Date of first year: 2014
“Study on the fourth floor of the library; the first floor is basically a hangout spot.”

Malory Forbes

Student, fourth year Geomatics Engineering 
Date of first year: 2015
“Don’t drink five days a week. Go to tutorials.”

Kendra Underhill

Student, fourth year KinScience
Date of first year: 2014
“Go to class! It makes a difference!”

Mansa Agbaku

Student, third year Psychology
Date of first year: 2015
“Talking to your profs opens up a world of opportunities; always keep in mind that they’ve been through all of the same steps you’re about to go through and their advice will be relevant and helpful.”

Hannahbelle Weaver

Communications Officer at Muriel McQueen Centre for Family Violence
Date of first year: 2014
“Put things into perspective and find balance! Enjoy the learning experience, take a deep breath and don’t forget to have fun!”

Shea MacLaughlin

Student, first year Law
Date of first year: 2014
“My piece of advice is to start good studying and lifestyle habits early, rather than trying to work on them too late!”

Chris Thompson

Student, fourth year GGE Engineering
Date of first year: 2014
“Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Zach Dunseith

Student, fourth year Sciences
Date of first year: 2014
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself first: your health, your education, your relationships— whatever it may be. Everything else will come naturally, and you will thank yourself later!”

Disha Bisto

Student, fourth year Chemical Engineering
Date of first year: 2014
“Advice to my first year self: Before you buy that new book, just check for an online version; go to the Book Buy and Sell or reach out to students through the UNB page/group. You might have just saved $300.”

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