Meet Natalie Kang, VP Academics of the MUGS (McGill Undergraduate Geography Society). Natalie is a U2 student majoring in Geography and minoring in International Development. When she's not busy being involved with MUGS, Natalie enjoys painting, cooking, going to museums and traveling all over the world. Read on to learn more about Natalie and her invovlement in MUGS.
Tina Arani for HC McGill (HC McGill): What is the goal of MUGS?
Natalie Kang (NK): All geography students, whether you’re minoring or majoring in geography or in urban studies, are considered members of the McGill Undergraduate Geography Society. We also have an executive team that plans the events and communicates with the Geography department. We correspond with the Arts and Science departments; that’s how we transfer the news about what is happening with our group. Certain execs sit in department meetings and participate in faculty academic committee meetings and GIC (Geographic Information Center) meetings. In all of these meetings, we represent geography students to make sure our voices are heard. We hold several events throughout the year, and we also organize talks and tutorials. One of the big events we have is a Python tutorial, where we have someone come in and talk about how to code in Python. All of the information we send out through email is geography related and informs people about what we are up to.
HC McGill: When did you get involved in MUGS?
NK: I became VP academic this past fall. I’ve been here for a full year.
HC McGill: What is your role in MUGS and what are some of your responsibilities?
NK: As VP Academic, the main thing I do, separate from the other execs, is help lead a mentorship program. I'm on a subcommittee with a team of graduate students and other MUGS execs. At the beginning of year, we ask undergrads and graduate students to be part of the mentorship program if they want to. They sign up under what they’re interested in Geography and we try to match them up with mentors as best as possible. The mentors act as an academic guide for the undergraduate students they are paired up with. The aim of the mentorship program is to help undergraduate students prepare and plan for the future; since graduate students have already successfully navigated academia themselves and have had to face the same decisions undergrads are facing now, they can provide a lot of support. Once we match them up, we give them coffee cards so they can meet on their own time and can talk about work experience, grad school, and life experience. Along with this program, we also had an alumni panel this semester (last month) where we had Geography alumni from McGill to come in to talk about their career paths and give out advice on what we should be doing now in order to pursue our futures. The audience was also able to ask questions and have a discussion with the panelists. Apart from organizing the mentorship program, I also go to academic committees in Arts and Science faculties to represent MUGS.
HC: What kinds of events does the MUGS team hold?
NK: We have several events throughout the year, including tea and cookies in the lounge every week, the Geography Journal Launch, skaing events, MUGS parties, skating events, Python tutorials, movie nights, and we also sell our MUGS merchandise!
HC: Do you plan on doing anything similar to the work you’re doing in MUGS in your career or after university?
NK: I like being the representative of people in the same major as me, as well as organizing events for them. The collaborative atmosphere of being a MUGS exec and working with a team is a skill I will definitely have to carry with me. I want to pursue urban planning in the future, and as an urban planner you have to work with people from different backgrounds (engineers, arhchtiects, designers, members of the public sector and private sector, etc.) so being able to work with different people is an important skill I need in order to create a successful project or event.
HC: How can McGill students get involved in MUGS?
NK: As a Geography student, you are technically already in MUGS; anyone can come to exec meetings if they want to as well. If you are interested in being an exec, you have to apply. We also have a Facebook group, a blog spot, and a listserv that goes out every single Monday so you are always kept in the loop about the events we have. You can also hangout at the lounge on the 3rd floor of Burnside, which is always open!
To learn more about MUGS you can visit them here.
All images provided by the interviewee.