Stories From The Arch

Photo of a person walking into the sunset.

It’s Been Exhilaratingly Wonderful, Mac!

Throwback to my first year, wobbling around with my oversized Roots backpack, stepping foot on campus in total awe of all the adventures yet to come – a ball of nerves and excitement wrapped into one. I remember Frosh week and Clubfest as clear as day. I was a curious and energetic soul ready to explore, strive, and learn something from anyone in sight. It was a time to start fresh and present myself any way I wanted to be. A time to diversify myself with new people and discover fresh interests.

I came from an advanced program in high school (known as IB) – this program gave me so much confidence coming to Mac. I came in thinking I wouldn’t have to try as hard as everybody else (Disclaimer: this was totally false). So, that’s what I did. I focused so much on surrounding myself with great company and joining tons of extracurricular activities. I met so many people I couldn’t even name them all, but regardless, I thought we’d remain friends forever.

As students, we know this triangular compromise all too well! (See below)

Image with the heading that reads "How People Think It Is" and a triangle with the text "enough sleep", "good grades", "social life" at each of the vertices and the text "choose two" inside the triangle.

Unfortunately, my grades were the ones to suffer, which was the shock of a lifetime for me as I was always a high-achieving student. Unfortunately, this declining attitude got the best of me and it was just too hard to keep up.

Image with the heading "How It Actually Is". The image also contains a decagon with the text "friends", "lectures", "work", "family, "assignments". "sleep", "hobbies", "food", "internships", "love life". "friends". The text inside the decagon reads "Attempt to do everything until stress takes over and things start slipping and you end up crying in your bed deciding to do none of it and just watch Netflix to escape somewhere else".

… Come second year

… and come third.

Assignment after assignment only lowered my motivation further, as the distractions intensified and other activities became more desirable.

What revitalized my energy was discovering the SSC: the Student Success Centre – I couldn’t believe we had a WHOLE centre on campus dedicated to student engagement, achievement and overall well-being!


It was as if I had found a treasure chest of knowledge and resources. That’s when it hit me, the triangular compromise shouldn’t have to exist. It was possible to have all aspects of your life in check and remain sane. I learned that I needed to have BALANCE.

“In my humble opinion, McMaster is the embodiment of balance. It has the perfect equilibrium of resources, opportunities, kind-hearted people, mental health support and healthy competition for student success and well-being.”


So, like any curious and energetic soul would, I explored the crap out of this place – workshop after workshop, link upon link, articles, networking conversations, counselling, career finders, insightful events, speakers – I did it all! These experiences, like building blocks, PROPELLED me forward!

Propelled is the understatement – I felt like a whole other woman – more focused, determined, organized, passionate, yearning for knowledge and consistent self-development. I always knew I had passions and skills, but these experiences helped me DIRECT them.

I learned not to shy away from failure – that every challenge was an opportunity to learn and grow and move on. I learned to be BRAVE.

“My advice to you is to put your sincerest effort towards self-discovery, self-growth and a multidisciplinary of knowledge more slowly and earlier than I did.”


The unconditionally loving and supporting friendships I made were also a crucial part of finding success. These friendships truly represented a second family I could have when I wasn’t at home. Mills library, literally became my second home. I stayed there in dedication that I wouldn’t study anywhere else for four full years, and it’s where I’ve created the most precious aspects of my memories.

Let me tell you though, that the number of people you make friends with from your first year to your final year decreases dramatically; but, quantity rarely matters. You will find gems. Hold on to them. I’ve learned to invest in QUALITY FRIENDSHIPS.

Even though I will not always be surrounded by these people who have become my support system, my soulmates and my second family, the last four years will be between us, in our memories, unaffected by whatever happens next.

“You are a product of the five people you spend the most time with – so choose them wisely. This means that if you surround yourself with positive supportive loving people, with great intelligent insights and open minds for learning, growth and success, rest ASSURED you will adopt these qualities over time, as well.”


So, thank you to the incredible people I have met over four years who have created such an impact on my student journey. Every human I’ve met here has been inspiring, loving and inspiring in their own way, and even in passing, each has contributed towards my personal or professional growth.

I still am that same curious and energetic soul, except this time, I’ve developed into a more focused, empathetic and resilient woman.

Thus, three messages conclude my time here at McMaster and as your 2016-2017 blogger:

Balance, Bravery and Quality Friendships.

Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you, Marauders.

It’s been exhilaratingly wonderful, Mac.

– Mariam (:

Picture of the new Water Cooler Gossip blogger, Mariam. Linked.

About the Author

Mariam Khalil blogged for the Student Success Centre from 2016 to 2017.

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