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BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Meet the MiNDS

Author: Vanessa Parise

We are excited to introduce a new article called "Meet the MiNDS", where we sit down with members of our cohort to get to know them better! For the inaugural issue, we got the chance to check in with Anne-Marie Di Passa and Giovana Romero, both second year MSc students.

Introducing Anne-Marie Di Passa! Anne-Marie is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Neuroscience Program. She is supervised by Dr. Dante Duarte where she looks at the effects of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) in older adults. I sat down with Anne-Marie to discuss her experiences as a new graduate student living in Hamilton and how she maintains a social circle through her studies.

Grad school is scary. How did you get involved with your cohort?

One thing that really helped me as well as others get involved in our cohort is social media. The summer before we started, one of the incoming students sent out an email asking if everyone would like to join a Facebook/Whatsapp group chat where we all could keep in touch. Another student took the opportunity to plan an outing and now I can confidently say we are all friends. This group chat also allowed us to share our trials and successes in the first few months of graduate school as we all tried to navigate what it meant to be a Neuroscience student. My advice to the new MiNDs cohort is to make a group chat and to not be shy to start conversations or even hangout after class. 

What was your favourite memory from your first year (e.g., academic, social, other activities)?

In Neuro700, in the second semester we were required to do presentations. My favorite memory was the support that we all had as we did these presentations. Normally in undergrad, there is usually some competition, but in this class, it felt that everyone was working towards a common goal. This was such a nice experience and again solidified our connections with each other. 

Introducing Giovana Romero! You may already know Giovana as one of the incoming SOMA co-presidents for the 2023-2024 academic year. Giovana is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Neuroscience Program. She is supervised by Dr. Micheal Van Ameringen where she studies adults with ADHD and whether the use of cannabis affects treatment outcomes. I sat down with Giovana to discuss her experiences as a new graduate student that commutes to and from McMaster University.

Do you commute to school? If so, how did you stay connected?

Yes, I am a commuter to McMaster. Transit was always accessible to me (i.e., GO Bus or vehicle) so it has not been much of an issue to travel to Hamilton. Where it did become an issue is incorporating my commuting time into any plans that were made with my friends/classmates. This was mitigated by two things:

  1. I made an effort to travel to Hamilton or stay after class so that I could join my friends/classmates and socialize.
  2. Attending Neuro700 in person. Regardless of whether I traveled to Hamilton on an off day or not, I was required to attend Neuro700 where I would find all my classmates.

If you could go back in time to September 2022, what would you say?

There are three main things I would tell my past self if I could go back to the start of graduate school:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others in your cohort. We all are here because we met the program criteria and deserve to have a spot in the Neuroscience MSc program.
  2. Understand that you are doing everything at your own pace. Your research and the pace at which you complete things is unique to you. Do not believe you are behind because others are doing something different.
  3. Socialize where you can and join clubs and committees where possible. I joined the graduate mentorship program and I am one of this year’s SOMA Co-presidents!

Thank you so much, Anne-Marie and Giovana for your fantastic insights! Best of luck in your second year of your MSc!