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Ananya Yadav, Hons. B.A. Political Science ‘21

Meet Ananya Yadav, Honours Bachelor of Arts Political Science ‘21

Meet Ananya Yadav, one of this year's Political Science graduates. In this feature, Ananya talks about her time at Mac, lessons learned, as well as her plans for the future.

Jun 16, 2021

 

"Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunities and the kindness that the McMaster community has given me. It’s important to remain kind and gracious for the opportunities that come your way and to nourish the relationships you build because at the end of the day the relationships you build matter the most. I’ve learned to take life as it comes and to work consistently to better myself, as life is a never-ending learning process."


 

How would you say the time at McMaster has changed you?

I'm definitely a different person than I was in my first year. Being at university has brought me some great opportunities and experiences, but it wasn’t always fun and easy. I would say that my greatest lesson has been to take life as it comes at you. I have learned to celebrate the successes and not to be too hung up on any failures, because life goes on. My time at the university has also encouraged me to be a life-long learner - not just academically, but to also take time to explore life outside of academics. Balancing different areas of your life is not always easy, but it is something I constantly work towards.

Were there any challenges you had to overcome during your time at McMaster?  

My biggest challenge was figuring out what I really wanted to pursue. When I first came to McMaster from high school, I enrolled in the Life Sciences program as I had envisioned a career in that field. The sciences had been my best subjects in high school and even though I had other interests, I did not know how I could translate them into a career. But, when I started my undergraduate studies, I realised it was not for me. So, I made the switchover to political science and just coming to terms with that decision was a massive challenge. It almost felt like the end of the world. I was worried that changing focus would put me back. I came to realize that many students face similar challenges, but don’t always have an avenue to share their experience, which makes it seem like a much bigger challenge than it needs to be. Knowing that so many other students had gone through this before and had come out on the other side really helped me. Talking to others gave me so much support and helped me overcome my fears.

What’s your favorite memory of your time at McMaster University?

One of my favourite memories was being part of the McMaster Model United Nations Club (MACMUN). I was part of that club for several years. I got to chair several conferences that were hosted by McMaster, and also got the opportunity to attend other conferences as a delegate. One of my best memories was being selected as a delegate for the Canadian Model United Nations Conference (CANIMUN) in Ottawa.  I had an amazing time, and it connected me with students from other Canadian universities, some of whom are still my friends to date.  Being a part of this club made me feel like a part of a smaller community within the larger McMaster community. 


"Outside of clubs, being at home over the last year due to the pandemic has made me realize the value of other memories that were often taken for granted. I miss being able to get a coffee on campus and settling in for some long hours at the library. I know it sounds crazy to say I miss the library, but I do! I missed being on the beautiful McMaster campus during the pandemic and will revisit it as soon as I get the opportunity to do so."


What words of advice would you have for your first-year self?

Building confidence takes a lot of hard work. This was not always me. I was not always this confident. People have always told me that I am confident, but in my first year, I remember feeling that I had no focus and that shattered my confidence in the first few years of my undergraduate degree. I think the words of advice I would offer myself would be to not stress out too much because everything always works out. Often, students come to university with a plan of what they want to do, and in many cases, that plan completely changes once you explore new interests and opportunities. It was also my first time being away from home, so I felt very isolated in my first year, and I really didn’t know how to overcome that. Navigating the university can seem like an insurmountable task, but I would advise my first-year self to not stress out too much and to talk to others and explore the support systems that the university has in place. So don’t fret, and be flexible to change. Change is good!

Was there a favourite course or lecturer that stood out for you?

I have to talk about the CityLAB Semester in Residence (SIR), which was truly a wonderful way to end my undergraduate degree. One of my friends initially recommended the program to me and I applied close to the deadline, but it was the best decision that I could have made. The CityLAB SIR program gave me the opportunity to collaborate with the City of Hamilton and other community organizations on a real-world project that directly impacts the city.  My team was connected with Hamilton Public Works and we did a lot of background research for their first climate resiliency strategy. We also presented a report to the City with 71 sustainability recommendations. To support the principles of community engagement, which are a key component of the program, we developed a podcast series that features the voices of environmental and sustainability experts from across Canada. Our guests ranged from local leaders from Environment Hamilton to Vancouver’s Director of Sustainability. They shared insights about their climate resiliency projects and provided recommendations for Hamilton. It was a wonderful project to work on, and our interviews are featured on CityCast, which is the Semester in Residence’s official podcast. I really encourage other students to apply if they are looking for an interdisciplinary and experiential program!  

What are your plans after graduation?  

Right now, I'm working with the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at McMaster. The OCE is working on developing a new course for the Winter 2022 semester called the Art of Change. That course will equip students with the skills they will need to support and lead change-based initiatives. It will be delivered virtually and has an exciting podcast component built into it. I am really excited to be working on this with an awesome team, and I’m looking forward to seeing what students think about the course! I have also been offered a full-time position elsewhere, so I am happy to learn new skills and explore various opportunities. Ultimately, I hope to be working in the public policy field and I am considering further studies to help me achieve that goal. As students, the university gives us a chance to explore who we are as individuals but being out of school for the first time in my life, I’m excited to explore who I am outside of being a student. I am entering a new stage of my life, and it feels like I am discovering myself all over again!