• The Mentorship Spot

My Experience as a Health Sci Student at McMaster

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Sabrina Balkaran

“I find there is a very strong aspect of community amongst BHSc students. We learn from each other and push each other to improve ourselves.”

Sabrina Balkaran is currently a Bachelors of Health Science (Honors) student at McMaster University. She is going into her third year and is very involved within McMaster and the greater Hamilton community to which it belongs.

1. What factors played a role in helping you choose this program?

At the beginning, I was divided between engineering at Waterloo and health sciences at McMaster. Since I was interested in both fields, it was difficult to decide between them. In the end, I chose the Bachelors of Health Science (BHSc) program as its more interdisciplinary approach allowed me to pursue a wider range of courses with greater support from faculty. I really feel like the program offers a very close-knit, supportive environment for education, and it is the best place for me to figure out my future goals and aspirations.

2. What is your favorite part about the program?

My favorite aspect of my program is definitely the people. I have found the BHSc community to be very close-knit and supportive, both through coursework and extracurricular activities. People are always willing to help out and answer any questions that you may have. We all push each other to succeed.

3. What should someone expect when enrolling in your program?

One common misconception I think most people have about the BHSc program is that its very competitive nature makes for an unhealthy, hostile environment. In my experience, this is not the case. I find there is a very strong aspect of community amongst BHSc students. We learn from each other and push each other to improve ourselves.

Moreover, I found the teaching style of the BHSc program to be very different when compared to high school. We tend to learn through various types of assessments including journal entries, essays and presentations, and often being in a group environment. As a result, we also learn about our own strengths and weaknesses and how we can improve upon them — this reflection component is really emphasized in the BHSc program.

4. What do you do outside of school?

I spend a lot of my time rowing, volunteering in the city, running reflection circles with Open Circle, and singing as part of several acapella groups such as Macappella and BHSc Vocal Chords. I think my extracurricular involvement really reflects my interests and what I want to learn more about. My first-year Inquiry course pushed me to reflect more, and Open Circle was an excellent way to do that. I’ve always loved to sing and stay active, so joining Macappella and rowing were natural decisions. I find that most of my extracurricular activities allow me to decompress from school and learn to be more mindful.

I would encourage others to pursue extracurriculars that interest them, even outside their program. I think they can be a good way to learn, make friends, and find a niche for yourself on campus.

5. What advice would you give to someone considering the BHSc Program?

As with all programs, I think you should do a lot of research on what you will learn and if that matches with what you’re looking for in an undergraduate experience. I would suggest that you talk to people in the program and find out if you would like the learning style and environment. If you’re in high school right now, it’s important to take biology and chemistry classes for pre-requisites to the program, and because they tend to come up frequently in coursework. It’s also a good idea to work on your time-management skills as in my experience, university life tends to be slightly more hectic than high school life.

For your supplemental application, I would advise students to show their authentic self — there is no wrong point of view so it’s important to represent yourself. There’s no mould in the BHSc program. Diversity is a strength so I recommend you show it!

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