When I took the plunge and decided to begin my undergraduate degree at Algoma University I wasn’t sure what to expect. Moving from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie as a lone 19-year-old was certainly a daunting adventure; however, I was very quickly swept into the Algoma family through varsity basketball, residence life, and the Sault Ste. Marie community. These familial structures are still what remain in mind when I think back about my time at Algoma University.
I graduated from Algoma in June of 2016, and began a post-graduate certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies at Georgian College in Barrie, ON. In the final semester of this program, I was offered a 3.5-month internship working in a museum in Dumfries, Scotland. Algoma University faculty, staff, and coaches who graciously wrote me letters of recommendation, supported this opportunity. While in Scotland, I largely worked engaging in preventative conservation of the museum’s collection and was able to curate my own online exhibition, drawing on the academic interests that inspired my undergraduate thesis at Algoma.
I am currently in my first year of my Master of Arts in History at the University of New Brunswick. I am studying Early Modern folk belief, religion, and witchcraft in the Atlantic world with a primary focus on the British Caribbean. This academic focus was again, largely inspired by my undergraduate thesis research which dealt with the gender discrepancy in continental European witch-hunting from 1450 – 1750. It is my intention to carry this work forward once again, as I apply for PhD programs this coming fall.
These experiences have often caused me to reflect upon my time at Algoma. I can confidently say that much of who I am as an academic and as a person is due to the support and guidance afforded to me through attending Algoma and being a varsity athlete. Academically, my professors in History and Sociology prepared me for the rigors of graduate school by improving my writing, and teaching me the conceptual frameworks necessary for success in a master’s program. Most importantly, these professors showcased the diversity in academia. From taking courses like “Witches and Witch-hunts in Europe” with Dr. Warren Johnston to “Canada in the Long Sixties” with Dr. Bruce Douville, I learned that the field of History is not always dominated by diplomacy and war. Instead, the diversity of the courses I took illuminated the human narratives in history; showcasing the people, places, and themes that tend to be overlooked by popular historical discourses. As a result, my drive to become a historian began alongside my introduction to the History program at Algoma.
Further, my four years as a student-athlete left me with more than my admittedly mediocre CIS basketball stats. In fact, when I think back to my time playing for Coach Ryan Vetrie, I think less about the (very few) points I scored and more about my relationships to my teammates and coaching staff. From them I certainly learned a lesson in perseverance, but also how to focus on my ambitions and do all the work necessary to achieve them.
I owe a lot to the people I met while at Algoma University, as they helped me get to where I am today, and, where I’ll be in the future. To my professors who pushed me to realize my full academic potential, I sincerely thank each and every one of them. And to my coaches and teammates who did not always know what I was doing, but supported me anyways, I am very grateful.
Written by: Carlie Manners