A Student’s Perspective

Hello! My name is Nikki, and I’m currently a first-year social work student attending Grant MacEwan University. I’ve been working with the Voices of Albertans with Disabilities since late September and have been able to experience a great deal—things I never would’ve previously paid any mind to have since moved to the forefront. Since attending Macewan University, certain things have stood out, especially since my current experience is centred around the disabled community.

Grant MacEwan works hard to ensure the school is accessible to quite a large demographic of people. For those with physical disabilities, there are several entry points to any building, along with elevators that go to any floor needed. While it’s often crowded near the elevators, most students give urgency to those who need it. People in wheelchairs or crutches or those with relative mobility issues are given precedence. The student body is also mindful of this, with several instances of students giving up their seats closest to the front of the exits where the seats are most accessible.

Regarding the mental health aspect of Grant Macwean, they do a spectacular job of giving their students the best opportunities possible. They offer a program called P.A.W.S. where students can come and pet dogs and play fetch and reduce stress by taking five minutes to say hi to some of the friendliest dogs I’ve ever met. There are also days with cats for those who are scared of dogs.

If animals aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options! There is always a constant stream of activities to get students talking and friendly with each other. Trivia nights are common and, from my experience, a lot of fun! They breach plenty of topics and help raise awareness for various things. The one I went to was centred around the LGBTQ+ community. They remind people that while school is stressful, we aren’t alone!
Additionally, therapy is offered on campus as well. We have the option for those in more challenging courses or needing someone to talk to. As a social work student, I put a lot of value into mental health, and ensuring that I keep myself aware of my own is vital to ensure I’m offering the best help I can to clients when I see them. Knowing that should I ever need help while learning is a huge relief.

Grant MacEwan and its professors also take great care in ensuring the classroom is a safe space for those with cognitive or learning disabilities. Tests and coursework are altered to suit their needs better while additional assistance is offered. Assistants and aids are provided to those who need someone to read through questions or require them to be digitally enhanced.

While it’s not perfect, it’s an improvement from other institutions I’ve attended or visited during an open house. Grant Macewan makes it a point to ensure that the students know they are a priority and that their needs matter. It’s shown in the little things that most non-disabled students would overlook, but if you look, it’s there. And that’s what matters most.