By Megan Reid
Hey Knights! This week on “Humans of Queen E,” we’ll be sitting down with Rian Hoyle. Rian is a Queen Elizabeth High School alumni, a political science major and student at the University of Alberta. She is a self-proclaimed “MUN (Model United Nations) nerd,” who is now volunteering as a diplomatic aide at the same Model United Nations conference she attended all throughout high school. She also does promotion for SUNIA (Seminar on the United Nations and International Affairs), after attending a SUNIA camp in her grade 12 year. In university, she is working towards a Certificate of Sustainability, as well as her degree. When Rian isn’t working on her extracurriculars or schoolwork, you can find her growing plants, playing Minecraft, or collecting cow figurines for her room. Let’s chat with Rian about her life as a first-year university student, especially amidst the pandemic!
If you know Rian, personally or as an acquaintance, you know she was one of the most outstanding students in regards to leadership and student involvement at QE. For the beginning of this interview, she shared a bit about how she was able to involve herself with similar extracurriculars this year.
“Firstly, running QEHSMUN definitely helped with getting a position on HSMUN. MUN is kind of, again, my “defining personality trait,” so that’s who I am. For first years, there’s not a lot you can do with student government and student union-related activities, like Royal Guard, because each faculty does it differently. At U of A, the arts association kind of requires that you have a little bit of experience to be able to apply. So, I wasn’t able to apply this year, but definitely probably going to next year. The sustainability council stuff with that certificate is kind of connected to Global Citizenship, which I guess is another thing I was heavily involved with at Queen E.”
Rian also chatted with me about scholarships, as she detailed how they worked out for her.
“Unfortunately I didn’t win any scholarships, that kind of sucked. However, I did have a lot to talk about in my applications. I did get the Rutherford, but that’s more honours-based than extracurricular. I do think there was definitely a lot more to talk about on applications because of extracurriculars. I think it might not have had the biggest impact initially, like on entrance scholarships, but I think down the line on resumes and stuff like that it’ll definitely have a long-term payoff.”
An active student by any measure, I wanted to know if any of Rian’s extracurriculars/courses were what inspired her to major in political science.
“Again, MUN is going to be a recurring theme in this. SUNIA definitely had a huge impact on what I decided I was going to do- and this was when I was a student there. That whole extracurricular made me realize like: woah, I’m super knowledgeable and passionate about this, so this is something that is worth my time and that I will enjoy, because the last thing I wanted was to end up in a major where I wasn’t enjoying the material and becoming miserable. As far as courses, I was actually just talking to Mr. Myk about how AP Euro was the most beneficial course I took by far. In all of my courses there’s references to historical stuff that I would never have known without Euro. I’m in a history course right now that’s pretty much exactly like AP Euro, and going through it again/going into even more depth on certain topics made me realize how much I really love learning about history. Euro ended up being a huge reason I think I’m going to minor in history, because I just love learning about it. It really changed things in the long run”
Rian then talked to me about her life as a first year university student amidst a global pandemic. She got very raw and real about the struggles that come with being a student at such an unprecedented time.
“It sucks. To put it straight: it sucks. I’m trying to make the most of it, but the university does not allow student groups to meet on campus this semester, and probably won’t next semester either. So, it’s a little bit harder to find things to do for extracurriculars; clubs fair was online, so you didn’t get the same experience as you would have in person. Obviously, class structure is essentially teaching yourself, which kind of sucks. I do try to go to the campus to get work done, because at home I have no motivation. I definitely think it’s really draining to be starting university in the middle of a pandemic. I’m constantly thinking that maybe I should’ve taken a gap year, but then realizing that lots of people took gap years so it’s going to be more competitive in the future. But at the same time, I’m having no fun right now. Who knows if we’ll ever even be in-person again? There’s just so much uncertainty with it, and it’s hard to cope without knowing what university is like.”
Since Rian is so heavily involved with extracurriculars, I was curious if she had any passions that influenced her to join a specific program/activity.
“One thing that’s been a pattern for me for many years has been environmental issues and sustainability. I worked with that all through high school with Global Citizenship, and now with the Certificate of Sustainability. I was looking into one day, fingers-crossed, if studying abroad comes back, there’s universities that offer a lot more sustainability-based courses, such as in Sweden. I was looking at one in political science, and one in sociology. I’m considering that, because it’s something I’m passionate about and something I could potentially use towards a career.”
Rian also shared a bit about another social issue she’s passionate about, one that sparked through both a class and an extracurricular.
“Right now, especially in my Poli Sci 101 class, there’s been a lot of talk about democracy and voter suppression, such as in the United States. I’m doing a little research project on it right now, so that’s another thing I’m interested in. MUN also lets you see that, as you kind of get to see how government functions in other countries that you otherwise would never know about without having to research/represent them. I think that’s super beneficial to know about anything you’re passionate about- to know how an issue differs from where you live.”
To conclude, I wanted to ask Rian about her aspirations for her university career.
“I’m definitely hoping to get better at online as it continues. Essentially, I hope I’m able to find better coping skills to handle online. When high school went online, it was much more chill because your grades couldn’t decrease so no one really did any work. But now, we’ve kind of just been thrown into the full workload of university plus some. I would argue it’s actually more work, because my upper-year friends have said that professors are assigning heavier workloads this semester to prevent cheating. Next year, or hopefully next semester, I want to gain better skills for dealing with online. Other than that, I’m hoping that by the end of my Bachelor’s I’m involved in more extracurriculars than I am this year. I hope I can better immerse myself that way.”
I think we could all work on developing better coping skills during this unique time.
For more stories about Queen E students, staff, and alumni, keep an eye on The Knight’s Post every Wednesday. As well, make sure to follow Queen E on Instagram at @queenelizabethhs Got a story you’d like to share in Humans of Queen E?Head to the ‘contact’ section at the bottom of the page and tell us your story.