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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
October 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Graduate Testimonial: Brandey Smythe

When searching for a university to attend for my undergrad degree Laurier was immediately attractive to me because of its size. I wanted a university where I could be a person and not just a number.  Many of the reasons why I chose Laurier as an undergraduate also applied when I chose Laurier as the university where I would complete my Masterís degree.  

Although I had started my undergraduate career as a business student I realized very quickly that I was enjoying my electives in history far more than I was my business classes.  In fact, I was exceling in history.  The decision to become a full-time history student was not a difficult one.  I fell in love with the program and with the department at Laurier.  Many of my history classes were smaller than my business classes.  I felt like I got to know my professors (and them me) and that I was not just a number.  Professors in the department were very approachable and willing to help however they could.  The support staff in the department was exceptional as well.  This was the kind of department I wanted to be part of for my graduate degree.  

I will admit that Laurier ranked high on my list for my graduate degree because of the Laurier Center for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS).  My focus was military history and Laurier had many excellent military history professors, many of whom I had already worked with for years.  I was able to spend much time working at LCMSDS while completing my MA, an experience that only furthered my understanding of what I was studying.  Class sizes at Laurier were small and promoted very good discussion.  When I could not find a class I wanted to take, the department worked with me to develop a directed readings course.  I was supported by my advisor one hundred percent while writing my thesis and he shared in my excitement at discovering new bits of information.  I was not just another paper he had to read.  My advisor made me believe that my work was good and that I could make a valuable contribution.
Although my current job does not relate directly to my degrees, my MA certainly prepared me for the working world.  I am good at my job now because of skills I learned completing my MA.  I am organized and work well under pressure, which comes from years of working towards a deadline.  Whether it was reading for class, writing a paper or marking undergraduate exams, deadlines were constant.  Today, the only thing that has changed about my deadlines is the work I am completing.  Now, instead of papers and marking, it is payroll and billing.  

History is one of those subjects where attention to detail is extremely important.  My MA thesis likely would not have been accepted if I had said the Allies invaded Sicily on July 9, 1943 instead of July 10, 1943.  It is this attention to detail that perhaps serves me best in my life after school.  My job in the renewable energy industry involves multiple locations, serial numbers, addresses, phone numbers and customers and, once again, the skills I learned completing my MA are all put to good use.  

A professor once told me that employers like arts students because they can think outside the box, can articulate themselves clearly, and have a firm grasp of the English language, both written and oral.  I now completely understand what this professor meant.  Given the chance to do things differently, I would not change a thing.  The skills I learned at Laurier as a MA student allowed me to make a seamless transition from the academic world to the business world and to excel at what I do.

Brandey Smythe, Administrator, Northwind Solutions