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Jin Lee

Meet McMaster Engineering valedictorian Hannah McPheeJune 6, 2019

Hannah McPhee shares the perks of living in Hamilton, why she chose McMaster Engineering in the first place, the advice she'd give her first-year self and more.

1. Name:

Hannah McPhee

2. Hometown:

Toronto, ON

3. Program:

Engineering Physics

4. What made you choose to pursue your Engineering degree at McMaster?

I really loved the community at McMaster. When I came to visit, everyone talked mostly about the clubs and teams they were in. I thought it was a super nice, supportive environment, especially compared to the other schools I visited.

5. What do you want to do next?

I don’t know what I want to do long term, but I do know that in September I’m starting my masters at the University of Toronto so I have at least that next step planned out.

Hannah McPhee.

6. What advice would you give your first-year self?

I would probably tell myself to give myself a break, focus a little less on school and academics and a little bit more on my friends and making the most of my university experience outside of school.

7. Do you have any other kind of advice that you would give current or future Mac Eng students?

Some advice I would give to a new Mac student would be to not be scared to get involved — even in first year, when you feel like you don’t know anything. Everyone is super welcoming here so definitely get involved. Try something new and don’t be scared of what you might not know.

8. How has McMaster shaped the person you are today?

I was probably shaped by my peers and my friends that I met here who showed me new extracurriculars and hobbies that I never experienced before.

9. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster or in Hamilton?

I always loved Supercrawl in Hamilton. I’m a huge fan of the city of Hamilton and in September the huge arts festival is so much fun. At McMaster, I loved Welcome Week. I participated at almost all of my Welcome Weeks when I was here. I just love the energy and the community that you see.

10. What is one of the best things about living in Hamilton?

I think one of the best things about living in Hamilton is that there's a lot going on. It’s a super lively, bustling city, but its also small enough that you feel at home and that you can get to know a lot of the city.

11. How has McMaster helped you create a brighter world?

I’ve had a lot of opportunities at McMaster that allowed me to participate in things that help make a brighter world. For example, one of the big projects that I worked on was the National Conference on Diversity in Engineering, which is a student run conference that happens every year. It brings together students from every engineering school in Canada to talk about issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity in our profession. I was on the planning team when we hosted it at McMaster in 2017. That was a huge learning experience for me and an opportunity to meet speakers, educators and engineers from all over the country. That was one of the experiences where I thought, “This is what it might mean to be creating a brighter world within our profession of engineering."

Hannah McPhee.

12. What motivates you?

I get bored if I don’t have anything to do. There’s a lot that science can do for the world and if I don’t know the science, then there’s nothing I can do. So I’m motivated to always keep learning and finding out new things.

13. What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading a really good book called A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot. It’s a series of essays. I would definitely recommend it. It’s very compelling, very concise writing. It's about her experiences as an Indigenous woman in Canada. I think it’s something we should all be exposed to.

14. What will you miss most about being a Mac Eng student?

I think what I’ll miss the most about being a Mac Eng student is having a place to call home —where you’re familiar with every building, you know a lot of the people. It’s definitely a home away from home. Now I don’t know where that is for me.

15. What has been the most challenging part of your degree and how did you overcome those challenges?

I think the most challenging part of my degree was finding balance between schoolwork, extracurriculars, my friends, my family and trying to give everything the time it deserved. I don’t know if I successfully ever overcame that challenge, but I definitely tried, especially in my later years, to prioritize the stuff that was really important to me over just marks and getting assignments done.

16. While at Mac did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., a scholarship, award, or bursary)?

I was really lucky to have received the Hatch Scholarship when I was coming into my first year here at Mac, which definitely enabled me to go to a school away from home and to have my experience at Mac Eng. I’m very grateful for that.

17. Any thoughts on importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?

I think it’s great if you can. Obviously, not everyone can. I think it’s a little unfortunate that some of us have to rely on the generosity of people to attend university, so maybe what we can all do is fight to have publicly funded education and good student loan assistance programs.