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Campus Cutie: Mae Enriquez

Mae Enriquez is a soon to be Laurier Brantford Graduate student, and when she’s not taking the academic world by storm she’s making the world a better place. You may have seen Mae around campus or even in your lectures fixing the AV equiptment. 

Name: Mae EnriquezHometown: Cambridge, ONProgram: Honours Global Studies and Religion and CultureYear: Graduating in June!!!Relationship Status: TakenZodiac Sign: Gemini

What is your favourite part of Laurier?          

I love Laurier because of the supportive environment that we have created here. I hear a lot that Laurier is an engaged school, or that the students are so involved, and that we are a close knit community. While all of these things are true, I think you can sum it up in word; support.

What I mean by that is that Laurier fosters leadership through support. There are good leaders everywhere, but Laurier has great leaders. What makes a leader great is their ability to support an individual in any way possible, so that the person that they are mentoring can become their own great leader. Laurier has that. Professors will bend over backwards to ensure your success, there are also so many wonderful clubs, associations and societies that give you the opportunity to take leadership roles and there is always someone at Laurier who takes the extra effort to push your limits and make you a better person. The supportive environment that Laurier has created is not one that only supports you when you fail, but it is one that supports you in your quest to do great things.

Do you have a member of faculty that was particularly supportive/your favourite?

Honestly… Global Studies and Religion and Culture are amazing departments, and I have to give credit to all the professors that I have had and been able to work with. But in saying that, Dr. Meena Sharify-Funk has been the most influential in my life.  She has been supportive, influential, plus she is awesome. Anyone who has ever had her as a professor would say the same. I took a 1.0 Research Seminar with her this past year, and it has changed me greatly, academically and personally. Working with her I have been able to network and connect with so many other wonderful people in the department, she always offers to support and connect me to other graduate and post-grad programs, and I can’t even count the number of times I have cried in her office. Plus, she’s actually hilarious! One time, I was crossing King Street at the lights in front of King Street Res, and I was in the middle of the street and I hear someone screaming my name. I turned around and there is Meena, with her head and arms literally outside of her car window, flailing around, and screaming my name. Just to say hi. One other time, we were walking out from class and we were talking about PhD’s and she told me that I needed to dream bigger. That hit me pretty hard. As she was walking away, she was screaming, “DREEEEAMMMMMMM” …who can ignore advice, when it is howling through campus like that? She hasn’t just been a professor to me, but a mentor. I hope anyone who has had her that is reading this, is saying “That’s definitely Meena. She’s the best.”

Tell us more about the Graduate program that you will be attending at Laurier Brantford.

It is an MA in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory. It’s a research program that will allow me to further explore the research that I have been doing over the past year. I’m interested in international development, but more on the scope of development, development practices and policies, and how we can work to improve those practices and policies. It will be a great opportunity to stay local-ish, get my Masters Degree, and explore my interests further. I’m super excited to be a TA; I have all these fancy marking pens, folders, and I keep reading all these great books so that I can have books to refer my students to. You know those professors that lend you ten books from their own massive collection of reading and research… yeah that’s going to be me

Can you explain further what you mean by development?

You know those “mission” programs, or those times you see people go and build houses, and then spend the rest of their vacation on the beach, in some exotic country across the world? Those are the types of development programs that I am talking about; we often refer to it as “voluntourism.” That’s a major part of my research, battling the existence of these programs. When you see these programs being run, you really have to ask: “who is the one benefiting from this program?” It get’s a little complicated after that, but that is the foundation of my research and where it began.

Have you been on a trip like that before?

I have, I went to Costa Rica in May of 2014. The program was called “Community Development Expedition in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.” Let’s talk about this for a minute. First, what on earth does ‘community development expedition’ even entail? Second, if you Google Manuel Antonio, you will see that it is a long stretch of tourist area on the beach. It was a great learning experience, and I am happy that I went. But the month that I spent there could have been better spent. There are a number of reasons that the program is ‘unsuccessful,’ and that is the bulk of my research; looking at these reasons and then trying to change the discourse of development policies and practices.

Do you volunteer here in the K-W Region as well?

Well, my part of my research was about The Working Centre in Kitchener and so I spent quite some time there observing, researching and participating in some of their different services.

What were some of the services you enjoyed working with the most?

My favourite thing was being at the Queen Street Commons Cafe. It was a cafe run by The Working Centre and it was a great environment to be in. Sometimes I would just go and read, or do some homework, and I would listen and watch the people around me. It was a real community, with books, games, a piano, and lots of laughter. It was the perfect space to create and encourage community. I loved to just sit and watch.

Do you have any hobbies/interests beyond community development?

I love to read, travel, and play volleyball. I haven’t read much because of school, but I’m finally starting to now that all my papers are handed in. I’m reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon, which takes place in historical Barcelona, which I am traveling to in May! I love reading about religion and the world as well, because I find people’s perspectives and interactions with religion so fascinating (and appalling sometimes). And I played competitive volleyball for over 10 years. I don’t play often now, but it would be nice to get back into it. I am also crazy about tea and Netflix… Pretty average student.

What’s your favourite thing on Netflix right now?

I love that Gilmore Girls is on Netflix; I can just watch it over and over (not like I’ve already watched it a million times). And I’m also watching the latest season of The Mindy Project.

Are you more of a Lorelai or Rory?

I feel like I’m more of a Lorelai, I think. That’s the toughest question you’ve asked me yet! I love school and reading, but Lorelei is so quirky and a great friend so I hope I have those qualities at least. I know for sure that I must have coffee, I am cranky in the morning, and cranky when I haven’t been fed. Those are very Lorelei qualities.

What’s your go-to caffeine fix?

Coffee with milk and sugar, made with my French press. It’s the only way to make coffee. Or any tea, I’m obsessed with tea too.

Do you have any words of wisdom for those still completing their undergrad?

Do everything you want to do. You only have four years and the years fly by fast, before you know it you’ll be leaving Laurier and you will only have memories. So make the memories worthwhile. And second, invest time I’m making great relationships. Build relationships with your classmates, coworkers, Professors, TAs, staff, club members, with everybody… the relationships you make will endure past your four years at Laurier. If you make them great, they will last a lifetime.

Words to live by from Mae Enriquez. If you see this cutie on campus here in Waterloo or at her next adventure in Brantford, say hi! You never know, she may be your new favourite TA!


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Danielle McKay

Wilfrid Laurier

I'm a third year double English and Communications major at Wilfrid Laurier University. My love for pop culture is limitless and I watch far too much television for my own good. I aspire to work in Public Relations or a related field when I'm finished my degree. My role models include Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Jackie Kennedy and Walt Disney.
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