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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
July 3, 2015
Canadian Excellence

Testimonial: Sarah Waurechen

For me, the most amazing thing about the WLU history department was the people: faculty, staff, and students.  These people became my life-long friends.  They helped me through my academic career, and were (and continue to be) there throughout the ups and downs of my daily life.  I was able to make these connections because the Laurier history department, while maintaining a rigorous academic program, fosters collegiality and conversations.  Even as the student population grew, faculty and staff were always careful to make students feel welcome, and unlike in many other institutions, doors were always open.  This carried into the classroom, where difficult and yet respectful conversations were carried on between students of varying ages and a wide range of economic and religious backgrounds. My studies have since taken me to a further four universities, and Laurier still stands out as unique. Nowhere else will you find such a wonderful mix of intellectual freedom, diversity, friendship, and community.

Since I graduated from Laurier, I have gone on to complete a Ph.D. in history myself, and so there are obvious connections between my experiences there, and my subsequent career development. Most obviously, the History Department’s senior seminars were intensive and demanding, and prepared me for graduate school in a way that few other programs could have. But, even more valuably, Laurier is where I learned how to teach. I now regularly lecture to classes of 150 students and was honored to win a teaching award at Queen’s University for my work there. I base everything I do in the classroom on what I saw when I was an undergraduate in the WLU history department, although I have also evolved my own stylistic edge too. A genuine respect for students, creativity, interactive lectures, challenging readings, and a whole lot of energy were all fundamental elements of the Laurier history program ten years ago, and they remain fundamental to my pedagogy today.

Sarah Waurechen, SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship Holder, McGill University