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Tapuwa Ruzvidzo

SFU Student

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Elena Barbir posing with a friend at a soccer game
Looking back on her entire experience with RISE, Elena concludes that “the awareness of my strengths and limitations that I developed during this work term is the single most valuable skill I could have hoped to acquire.”

Learn about the exciting opportunity to work in Germany.

Elena Barbir has always had a passion for travel. During her second year at SFU, the Chemical Physics major embarked on a four month exchange to Western Australia which provided an opportunity for her to travel around the Southern Hemisphere as well as South East Asia. Her time abroad left such a memorable impression on her that she knew she wanted to repeat the experience again. With this in mind, she turned to the RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) program for the opportunity to embark on a new travel adventure and to develop some valuable work and life experience.

RISE is a dynamic summer program that offers undergraduate students from Canada, USA and the UK in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Earth Sciences and Engineering an opportunity to receive work experience in research labs at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a period of three months. Throughout the course of their research projects, students are matched with doctoral students who serve as their mentors and they also receive stipends to help cover living expenses in addition to housing assistance.

As a Chemical Physics major, Elena worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Northwest Germany on a research project that was well suited to her interests, her degree and her experience. She particularly enjoyed the sense of freedom and independence that she was given over her projects which she says helped her gain a lot of confidence in her ability to carry out projects on her own. “My supervisor gave me the tools to complete my project but he didn’t try to control the manner in which I approached it,” she explains. “If I needed help, I could go to my supervisor or other PhD students, but if I wanted to try out my own ideas first, then that was my prerogative.” The entire experience reaffirmed Elena’s love for experimental work and also provided an opportunity for personal development and self awareness. “I had to make project plans, troubleshoot and be creative—but, I also developed an awareness of the right timing to ask others for help.”

Looking back on her entire experience with RISE, Elena concludes that “the awareness of my strengths and limitations that I developed during this work term is the single most valuable skill I could have hoped to acquire.” In fact, the entire experience was such a memorable one for her that she is contemplating going back to Europe to pursue a Masters degree there. “Regardless of what it is that I choose to do in the future,” she says, “I can confidently say that I came away from the experience feeling very positive and excited about all the possibilities that are open to me after my undergraduate degree”.

Elena Barbir  

   Elena Barbir

   SFU Chemical Physics major

 

 

 If you are interested in applying to the RISE program, please contact your Co-op Coordinator:

RISE Information Poster

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Tapuwa Ruzvidzo

SFU Student

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