Summer Check-In 2020

Here's me giving you all an update on what I've been up to during my first Laidlaw Summer! Even if you don't feel like reading it all, scroll down to the bottom of this post to check out my favourite at-home research spot!

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When I think back to December of last year, applying for the Laidlaw Programme in the midst of exams, it feels like a lifetime ago! Since then, I’ve embarked on leadership training sessions, met some amazing people, been inspired by mentors and other leaders from around the world, and of course, started my summer research. It seems like a lot, especially considering the majority of these events took place during a global pandemic, but these are just a few of the incredible experiences Laidlaw has offered me so far. 

Over the past few weeks, I have learned so much through conducting my research. From how to be adaptable and resilient when things aren’t going according to plan, to how important it is to work smart, by using software and making plans (and sticking to them!). I have also somewhat surprised myself, in my problem solving capability and in my capacity to take charge and learn how to do things that are totally unfamiliar to me. Despite this, research, especially in the time of coronavirus, can be lonely and frustrating, so relying on my fellow Laidlaw Scholars through Action Learning Sets and over messages has been so helpful. Bouncing ideas off of them, coming up with solutions together, or even just lamenting about the 47th study you’ve read that day is truly wonderful. 

I have also been so impressed with the online programming we’ve received so far, including the Global Induction Event as well as the networking opportunities we’ve had to meet our fellow St. Andrews Scholars as well as those around the world has been so inspiring. In life, as in research, it can be helpful to take a step back, broaden your scope, and refocus on why we do the things we do, and why they’re important to us, and to others. To hear the other scholar’s stories of success (and struggle), as well as the words of wisdom from Lord Laidlaw, helped me refocus on the value of my research in my own life and hopefully, the lives of others. 

 I really cannot express in words how thankful I am to have been awarded this opportunity, as the Laidlaw programme has allowed me to learn so much about who I am as a leader and as a researcher. A big thank you goes out to Calum McCutcheon, Lord Laidlaw, the Laidlaw support team and my amazing supervisor, Dr. Frank Sullivan!

Marika Schenkels

Student, University of St. Andrews

I am a first year medical student at the University of St. Andrews with an interest in community, maternal and global health. Growing up in a small rural town has fostered my interest in preventative health care and illustrated to me the importance of having a health system that works together, throughout all tiers and levels. When I'm not in Scotland or talking about medicine, you can find me at home in Canada with my friends and family; hiking, surfing or spending time outside!

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