A community of difference

September 2014

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McGill Law grad students come from numerous countries and speak many languages but they have one thing in common: each other.

The new class of McGill LLM and DCL students started the year with a welcome lunch in New Chancellor Day Hall, taking the opportunity to meet each other, their professors, and directors of the Faculty’s various research centres and institutes.

“This is one of the most diverse graduate programs in Canada,” Dean Daniel Jutras told the students, adding that the program at McGill is built on the idea of participation in the active research life at the Faculty, including the opportunity to work with a community of distinguished scholars.

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Angela Campbell greeted the class with a few examples of emails she called, “Emails from the Edge,” based on email messages she received from students at various points in the academic year.

Graduate students and professors chatted during the welcome event.

Graduate students and professors chatted during the welcome event.

“These are four phases that all graduate students, master’s students and doctoral candidates, go through,” she explained.

The first phase is captured by emails that express a “bright-eyed wonder” about the path ahead – of the ways in which graduate studies in law provide the freedom to think, read and explore new ideas.

The second moved to a stage of disillusionment that Campbell entitled “reality bites,” a stage in which she encouraged students to see their moments of inevitable disappointment and frustration as opportunities to also try something new.

For the third phase, “I’m not going to make it,” Campbell recommended students take a page from baseball’s seventh inning stretch: “Get up, move, stretch and sing,” she said. “Keep your physical, social and emotional self healthy.”

And for the final phase, “Holy cow, I did make it and now it’s time to move on,” Campbell expressed the hope that students would draw on their graduate studies experience to “make your own unique contribution in the world.”

Eliza Bateman, a member of the Graduate Law Student Association, echoed Daniel Jutras’s suggestion to get to know the students and professors at the Faculty, and she encouraged her fellow grad students to explore “the most important asset at McGill Law: our own sense of community.”

“Enjoy your time here. Do not glorify the busy,” she added. “If you feel overwhelmed, reach out for help. That is a sign of strength and resilience.”

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