Q & A with Preety Nijjar ’12
Preety is majoring in Honours Biomedical Studies with a minor in First Nations Studies and plays on the UNBC Women’s Basketball Team
When you look back at your time at York House, what stands out?
I feel so incredibly thankful to have had such supportive and amazing mentors like my basketball coaches, Mr. Prissinotti, Mr. Brown, Ms. DL and Mr. Jackson, and teachers like Ms. Boteju. They really made my experience at York House that much more meaningful and have all been so instrumental in my personal growth during my teen years.
You’ve had a stellar academic experience to date. Please tell us a little about that.
Yes, I’ve received an Academic All Canadian Award each year of my undergraduate studies thus far. The award is recognized and signed by the Governor General and means that you have been able to maintain an A- or higher GPA, while playing on a varsity team that is in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport league (CIS). The league has now been renamed University Sports or U Sports and it is the highest collegiate athletic league in Canada.
Now I am in my fifth and last year of CIS eligibility on the UNBC women’s basketball team and of my undergraduate degree. I was voted captain of my team again this year, so will have more responsibilities throughout this season.
What are you currently studying at UNBC?
My major is in Honours Biomedical Studies with a minor in First Nations Studies. I completed my undergraduate thesis last year on PACAP’s (a hormone called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activity polypeptide) role in vascular function with Dr. Sarah Gray, the Assistant Dean of UBC’s Northern Medical Program and Dr. Geoffrey Payne, UNBC’s Interim Vice President of Research. My thesis would be relevant for the development of new treatments to control or reverse the vascular complications associated with obesity along with its related caveats. This is a project that I have been working on since the end of my second year. I first received an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Award at the end of my second year which allowed me to begin the project, and then I continued the project as an independent study in my third year, and then as my honours thesis in my fourth year.
In terms of volunteer experiences, what are you involved with?
I have had an active role with the UNBC First Nations Centre and have been a peer support volunteer with the organization’s Peer Support Network (PSN) and have held a Student Leader position with them for the last two years. The PSN provides services to students and faculty, and we are trained to provide an Indigenous holistic approach to supporting mental health. My role in the Student Leader position includes developing outreach projects and peer-based wellness services around campus, being a liaison between counsellors and First Nations Centre staff, mentoring other peer support volunteers, creating campus-wide art based experiential workshops to learn more about stress management and self-care techniques. I am also a Crisis Line Worker for Northern BC.