BA leads to Ivy League dreams

Harvard University reported in its 2007-2008 Fact Book that, of its 20,000 students, only 489 were from Canada. That means less than three per cent of the student body consisted of Canadians accomplishing Ivy League dreams.

U of L graduate and current Harvard attendee Erika Jahn (BA '08) is in that slim three per cent. It says something – not just about her dedication and abilities – but also about the quality of education she received from the Alberta school.

"My studies at the University of Lethbridge prepared me well," says Jahn, a religious studies student working toward her master's degree. "I was a bit intimidated at first, but I've found that my training and background have prepared me equally as well as my colleagues coming from Ivy League schools. That says something profound about what I was able to do at the University."

The U of L's sense of community, fostered by small class sizes, was key for Jahn.

"The religious studies department at the U of L is small, so I knew my professors and fellow students well," Jahn says. "The sense of community made my experience great. I had professors who took me and my ideas seriously. They've been role models for me and have inspired me to continue on the academic path."

Another factor in Jahn's choice to follow the academic route was her ability to tailor her education in the Faculty of Arts & Science.

"My program was really my own creation," she says. For her religious studies education, she drew in women's studies and political science as complements. "This allowed me to approach my own interests at a multidisciplinary level and has given me a more rounded education."

Her eclectic arts education also enabled her to set attainable goals that eventually allowed her to achieve a larger goal: Harvard.

"Having an end goal is important and planning out the steps that are necessary to achieve it will help you. It takes a lot of work and you need to know what you want and how you can get it."

She says that recognizing opportunity is half the solution.

"Make your current experience the best and take advantage of resources available," she advises other students. "You can go anywhere from the University of Lethbridge."