May 28, 2020Print | PDF
When he was a senior high school student at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School, Nathan Jeffery used his position on the Ontario Minister’s Student Advisory Council to shine a light on the unique challenges students face studying in northern Ontario schools.
As a high-achieving rural student in northern Ontario, Jeffery was passionate about access to reliable transportation and comprehensive academic programming. His dedication to leading and leveraging learning experiences only grew stronger during his time as an undergraduate arts student studying psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Reviewing Jeffery’s record of academic and extra-curricular accomplishments, it is clear he took advantage of every opportunity at university. While studying in Laurier’s Department of Psychology, Jeffery excelled in varsity athletics, co-operative education, undergraduate research and work-study positions with Teaching and Learning’s accessible learning and academic success teams.
“It was important to always have a goal in the back of my mind and to know what I was working toward,” says Jeffery. “When times got tough, I reminded myself of the success I would be sacrificing later if I gave up.”
Jeffery was honoured as a U Sports Academic All-Canadian in recognition of his exceptional academic standing while competing on Laurier’s cross country running and indoor middle distance teams from 2015 until 2019. He was also one of four students within the Faculty of Science awarded through the Menich Family Co-op Work Term Fund in 2017. The fund supports select students seeking opportunities to gain work experience in the non-profit sector.
“I want to serve members of the community in a meaningful way,” says Jeffery. “Having lived in northern Ontario and then coming to Laurier, I learned that both places reflect the values of engaging with your community, helping others and giving back.”
Jeffery began working with Laurier’s Accessible Learning team in 2017 as part of a work-study program. Accessible Learning assists students with disabilities reach their full academic potential by providing professional services, resources and tools. He has continued working in the department every year since, in roles including examinations office assistant, front-line administrator and summer transition coordinator. Though he completed his studies in April, Jeffery continues to work remotely as a transition coordinator through the spring term.
“Nathan’s professional, compassionate and calm approach to his role with Accessible Learning makes students feel right at home as he welcomes them to the Laurier community,” says Gwen Page, director of Accessible Learning.
Gaining first-hand experience working alongside professional teams within Accessible Learning provided Jeffery a better understanding of academic accommodations in the university setting.
“Working with Accessible Learning prepared me for working as a professional because I could apply what I was learning in my courses to the workplace,” says Jeffery.
Eager for as many hands-on experiences outside of the classroom as possible, Jeffery completed two independent undergraduate research courses in Associate Psychology Professor Joanne Lee’s lab. From 2018-20, he oversaw a team of research assistants in the lab, engaging in primary data collection, data analysis, and presenting research findings related to social media use and well-being of university students.
More recently, Jeffery applied his research skills and interest in social justice to a community research course offered through Laurier’s Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action. He worked with a team of faculty members, community partners and student peers to support a project examining energy poverty – the lack of access to energy services – in Waterloo Region.
He is currently working as a research assistant for Lee completing his research study article for journal submission.
“Nathan has never ceased to impress me with his leadership, organization and communication skills,” says Lee. “With his high level of social and emotional intelligence, Nathan will continue to be a leader and help others in the community.”
After his years of study at Laurier, Jeffery now has his sights set on his next goal: nursing school. He has accepted an offer from the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto and will begin studies in fall 2020.
“I will continue my education and pursue more school and more research,” says Jeffery. “I don’t ever want to stop learning.”
Working as an academic coach on the Waterloo campus, Jeffery led students during academic skills appointments and study hall sessions. The position offered the chance to develop his own professional skillset and connect with students seeking academic assistance. Reflecting on what he learned as an academic coach and through his overall undergraduate experience, Jeffery offers the following advice to incoming Laurier students:
“Coming to Laurier made me open to trying new things. If there’s something you want to try, you should give it a go!”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speaking to professors early on made me feel more supported in the transition from high school to a new city and a new school.”
“I’ve been working toward an end goal of working in the healthcare field since I started school. It’s easy to forget to set goals, but they keep you on track and provide a sense of purpose.”
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