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International Student Stories

When asked what her favourite part about McMaster was, Monserrat, a first year Social Sciences student, said "the people."

Growing up on a 7 by 21-mile island, Monserrat has always has a very tight knit community around her. She knew when she was picking a university, she would want to attend a school with a similar environment. Luckily for her, she found McMaster.

“Back home everyone is really close which is similar to the community within the Faculty of Social Sciences. My graduating class in high school had ten students in it and four of my Grade 12 classes were one-on-one. While the class size is much bigger here, the Faculty of Social Sciences has this same tight knit community feel on a larger scale. I know I am cared for by both professors and by the Faculty as a whole.”

One person that really made Monserrat's feel this way was Dr Matt Savelli, her Mental Health and Illness professor.

“Dr. Savelli has really helped me during my time here. I remember the class before our first test he said he would stay back after class and give us some tips about university. He told us not to feel stressed about this test and if we needed to take a break while studying, we should which was reassuring. You hear the word professor and it sounds intimidating, but all my professors have been nice here.”

On top of great professors, the other students Monserrat has met here have helped her feel more at home on campus. She got involved with the Spark mentorship program and recalls how she met her best friend.

“I was worried about being homesick and making friends which is why I signed up for Spark. Spark is a mentorship program where I got to meet students both in first year and in upper years. Mental health wise seeing people every week helped a lot. The first day of Spark, me and my now best friend were put in the same group. At the end of the day we had a bonfire, so I went to introduce myself. After that we found out we lived in same building and got dinner and talked for hours.”

Monserrat has also developed a passion for psychology and mental health through the courses she has taken. She even hopes to do her master’s in forensic psychology.

“Mental Health and Illness has been my favourite course. I enjoyed learning to question everything such as who can up with mental illnesses and how different perspective of mental illness can affect how a patient is treated. This course also taught me how to frame and think about mental illness, and how to reduce the stigma of them. I’m excited to take more courses like this one in the future."

In high school Monserrat took part in many extracurricular activities. When she was in Grade 10, her and a few of her friends started the FindU foundation, an after-school program for kids in the Bahamas. This foundation provides kids with after school activities along with food.The goal of FindU is to impact the lives of the Bahamian boys and girls through music, art, dance, acting and education. 

When coming to McMaster, Monserrat knew she wanted to as stay involved with the community as she was at home and pursue her passion of helping others. Outside of class, she is a part of Hispanic club which had a bake sale to raise funds for charity, in her residence’s musical and regularly attends Social Sciences events. 

When asked what advice she wanted to tell incoming students, she said;

“McMaster has taught me it’s good to take calculated risks. Coming here was a big risk. I was worried about being away from home and it was scary deciding to go to a completely new country, but it has taught me about a new culture/region of the world. Also, I would recommend taking classes you might not have taken otherwise. These risks are intimidating but have helped me to grow as a person.”

“It is also important to stay busy and get involved in campus life. Taking advantage of activities and events helps to keep my brain active, helps me miss home a little less and helps me to meet new people.”

"If I could go back in time and tell myself something it would be not stress as much about coming to Canada. The McMaster community is very accepting of everyone, you will find your place here."