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Meet Liz DaMaren, McMaster Engineering Student Ambassador of the YearJuly 27, 2020

Mechatronics Engineering and Society graduate, Liz DaMaren, has been recognized for making an extraordinary contribution in supporting prospective students and recruitment initiatives.

The inaugural McMaster Engineering Student Ambassador of the Year award celebrates one student’s passion and dedication as a student ambassador for the Recruitment Office, while highlighting the countless hours they have committed throughout their time at McMaster University through participation at open houses, recruitment events, and connecting with students digitally.

The winner is awarded a $500 prize in recognition of their workplace and academic achievements, as well as their contributions to McMaster and the greater community.

DaMaren shares more on what it means to win this award, her experience as an engineering student at McMaster and on the importance of students getting involved in experiences outside the classroom.

Q: What does it mean to win this award?

A: It means so much to me to win this award, having invested a lot of time into my volunteer efforts with Engineering Recruitment over the last five years. Being able to introduce high school students to McMaster and help them get a little closer to making their decision of where to spend the next 4-7 years of their life was an incredibly rewarding experience in itself! It's an amazing feeling though to know that I've made enough of an impact to be recognized for it, and I'm so grateful to everyone in the Recruitment Office who allowed me to participate in all the activities and events that I did.

Q: What was your best memory from your time at McMaster?

A: It's not possible for me to pick the BEST memory from my time at McMaster - there's just too many moments that stand out to me. Definitely some of the best moments though were giving tours to high school students. Every tour was different, as every student was different, but sometimes the family or student and I would really hit it off and I would get to spend an hour talking about McMaster and community that I loved. That being said, there are other moments that come to mind: the day that I found out I got an internship at Tesla, all the show nights with the Engineering Musical, getting to travel to new cities for conferences with the MES... Like I said, I can't just pick one!

Q: What experience made a lasting impact on you?

A: In my fourth year I ran to be VP Student Life of the McMaster Engineering Society. I spent countless hours planning my campaign, researching my platform points, crafting content for social media, and talking to all kinds of people to better understand how I could help make their McMaster Engineering experience better. Now, this may be a strange experience to say has a lasting impact on me, because I didn't actually win the election, which I was quite bummed about at the time.

Looking back though, this experience allowed me to engage in vibrant discussion with people on issues and ideas that I was passionate about. The feelings and the experiences from the campaign, and the things I learned throughout the entire process, definitely made a lasting impact on me.

Q: Why is it important for students to get involved in clubs and teams and other experiences outside of the classroom?

A: Notice that in the above question 'what was your best memory?' none of them were in a classroom! I wouldn't be half the person I am today without my extracurriculars. I've met some incredible people, learned so much (about the world and about myself), and really have come to understand the value of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Experiences outside of the classroom help you grow so much as a person, and also help break up the monotony of homework and classes, so double win!

Q: What is your advice to students who will be experiencing McMaster virtually this semester?

A: Going through this semester remotely isn't going to be easy; it's a different learning environment, not only for students but for instructors, TAs, and everyone else, and it'll take some time to adjust. My advice would be to lean on the people in your life and don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. That's good advice, even for a 'normal' semester, but with Zoom fatigue and online classrooms, I think it's going to be more important than ever. Stay in touch (figuratively!) with family and friends so you have a support system. Don't be afraid to ask your professor questions, send your TA an email asking for a further explanation, or reach out to your academic advisor if you're struggling. People care about you (yes, even your professors!) and want to see you succeed, and while they will be behind screens, they are still there to support you.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I plan on pursuing at least one graduate degree in the field of engineering and sustainability. I have a passion for the environment, but also a passion for education and how we can make education better. While I have just finished a five-year engineering degree and having both loved and gained so much from it, I have a lot of ideas on how we could make learning, specifically in engineering, more equitable, accessible, and more valuable for students.

I think that engineers are one of the most important professions in terms of taking society into the 21st century in a socially responsible, economically sustainable, and environmentally conscious manner, and so my plans for the future are to help shift engineering education towards that vision. As with a lot of people right now, I don't know exactly what my path is going to look like, but I'm confident that I have the skills, and more importantly, the people, to help get me where I want to go. 

Q: What have you been able to accomplish with the Recruitment Office in the last five years?

Doing rough back-of-the-envelope calculations, I've easily put in 150+ hours of volunteering into recruitment over the last 5 years, which were some of the best hours of my degree! The following list captures most of my work with the Recruitment Office:

  • Digital Ambassador (2020)
  • Virtual Open House (2020)
  • Fall Preview (#1 &2) (2019)
  • Day in the Life (2019)
  • Fall Preview #2 (2018)
  • March Break Tours (2018)
  • School Q&A Session (November 2017)
  • Fall Preview #2 (2017)
  • Engineering Experience Weekend (2017)
  • May @ Mac (2017)
  • Scholar's Interview Day (2017)
  • March Break Tours + DITL (2017)
  • Women in Engineering Excellence Day (2017)  
  • Online Chat Session (February 2017)
  • Fall Preview #1 (2016)
  • Engineering & Science Olympics (2016)
  • Engineering Experience Weekend (2016)
  • May @ Mac (2016)
  • Scholar's Interview Day (2016)
  • March Break DITL (2016)
  • Women in Engineering Excellence Day (2016)
  • Mailout stuffing (2016)
  • Dozens of tours including high school visits, over the summer, for guidance counsellors and more!