Graduate Spotlight - Samantha Leavers
The Graduate Spotlight features exceptional students who have had unique journeys through Laurentian University. We celebrate these students and their accomplishments!
(May 26, 2023) - Leaving home for the first time, living in a new city, and adjusting to the transfer from high school to university, Samantha Leavers persevered through many challenges and is set to cross the stage at convocation on June 2nd, 2023.
From a small town in the Niagara region, Beamsville was home to Leavers for most of her upbringing. Never thinking she would find comfort in a city so far from home, Leavers expresses that from her first interaction with Laurentian University's campus: “I just knew that this is where I wanted to be”. Leavers described finding comfort at Laurentian through her choice of the Forensic Science program and the nature that surrounded the campus. “I’m a really big outdoors person so I loved the fact that there were hiking trails and a beach on campus.”
Although studying at Laurentian proved to be a bigger challenge than anticipated, Leavers is proud of her journey. “Living away from home for the first time I found it a lot more difficult than I expected, on top of the added stress of academics. I thought that maybe university wasn’t for me or maybe this program wasn’t for me.” Although after taking some time to reflect, Leavers decided to work on herself, on her study habits, and skills to grow as a more confident individual.
When asked to reflect on her struggles and provide advice to those who may be facing similar challenges, Leavers expressed the importance of seeking and asking for help early. “The benefit of seeking out help would be that you can build on top of your skills. There’s always more to learn and you can always better yourself as a student.”
Following her passion to help others seek help through Laurentian’s support services, Leavers worked with the Student Success department as a Peer Support Specialist. “Helping students with their academic skills such as writing, time management and study skills was rewarding. They were maybe in the same position I was in my first year, so now I get to offer them the support I wish I had used in my first year.”
Alongside supporting current students, Leavers welcomed prospective students in her role as a student ambassador in the Domestic Recruitment Office. Some of her most significant memories stem from her work promoting the University at the Ontario University Fair in Toronto.
Leavers expressed being fortunate for her opportunity to have been able to complete an undergraduate thesis in the field of Forensic DNA Analysis. “I don’t know what it was about DNA but I just fell in love with it. I find it really interesting that we’re all unique, we all have our own separate DNA, so to be able to match your DNA with a crime scene sample, I just found that really interesting.” Spending around 8 hours a week in the lab throughout her degree, Leavers felt well prepared for her thesis. While having the support of her professor, Leavers had the liberty to be able to conduct her own sampling independently and provided her with space to figure things out on her own and grow as a scientist. With this opportunity, Leavers anticipates being able to present her research at the Canadian Society of Forensic Science conference in June.
Reflecting on her University experience, Leavers shares an important message for students: “Just a parting piece of advice would be to persevere. I know it seems hard, I know you feel like you wanna give up but once you do get to that finish line, it is really rewarding and you will thank yourself that you pushed yourself and you got there - so just keep going forward and ask for help when you need it.”
After 4 years of perseverance, Leavers is now graduating with honours and set to start her Masters of Forensic Science at Laurentian for the Fall 2023 intake. She looks forward to continuing to expand her knowledge in Forensic Science and is ready to take on a new academic challenge.