YORKTON – Faculty and staff from the University of Regina visited the city on May 12 to educate potential students on academic and athletic programs.
Yorkton This Week spoke with organizers of the event at a gathering for students who have committed to attending the U of R.
"At Universities, people come and will tour the university – we want to do the opposite – we want to actually take it on the road,” said Jeff Keshen, President of the U of R, adding, “we really showcase our programs and also get the young people to meet the professors – and to realize that these are great teachers – and that when they come, they should feel really comfortable."
Keshen said the event had members from several U of R faculties teaching and speaking at local schools.
“For example,” said Keshen, “our Dean of Sciences was out here with a biology professor – coming to a science class and actually running a science class – so that's what we were doing today as well."
"We had a business professor who was talking to students about organizational theory and strategic planning – and also, interestingly, brought the issue of women in business leadership," said Keshen.
"That was really cool for a lot of the students to realize about progress that's been made, but still things that are not quite complete – so it's really opening their eyes up to all the different things that are happening in university and to also know that the things they're doing in high school – and the success they have in high school – are the same things that will make them successful in university – we're trying to break down the barriers."
Also in attendance were several students who have committed to attending the U of R.
"I wanted to meet the professors and kind of see who would be teaching the programs and get a bit more information and clarity about the classes," said Kody Bassingthwaite, a high school student who has committed to attending the U of R in the fall of 2022.
Bassingthwaite said he is studying for a diploma in general sciences.
"My hope is to get that and then go and get a degree in biology," said Bassingthwaite.
Joseph Keewatin, who currently attends a program at the Parkland College, said he was happy to attend the gathering.
"That's why I came here, just to meet [Keshen] – just to get a sense of the feel of the U of R and kind of put my foot in the door," said Keewatin.
Keewatin said he will be taking the pre-law program offered at the U of R.
"I just want to help with the injustices with first nations," said Keewatin, adding, "you know, just help people navigate through the justice system and the social system."
"I'm excited, that's why I came here today," said Keewatin.
The stop in Yorkton represents a five-city tour which also included a stop in Weyburn and Swift Current as well as future stops in Regina and Prince Albert.
Keshen took time to reflect on the past two years of the pandemic and note the positives that can be taken from it.
"You know it's not easy doing all of your courses online in remote fashion,” said Keshen.
"I think it has been hard, however, what I would say is that going forward we're going to have to think differently about the mix of courses and how we deliver them – because, whereas it was really hard for people to adjust they also kind of did adjust and they recognized that what the online, high-flex and all those different variations provide them, is a degree of flexibility," said Keshen.
"Many of our students work, many of our students would like to do some of their courses – at least in part – in their home community, so we want to actually learn from what the pandemic taught us about preferences for students," said Keshen.
"It's going to take some time to calibrate and know exactly where we land in the mix of in-person [classes] – which will always be the majority – but how we better serve our students of all ages and economic backgrounds – because going to Regina living can be expensive – so how do we actually best serve students by mixing our programs in a way that serves them as clientele for all the things that we offer," said Keshen.
Keshen took the time to offer praise for the schools and students who took part in the event.
"I think Yorkton should be mega-proud," said Keshen, adding, "it really was beyond any expectation that we had."
"The schools here should be celebrated for the way that they opened up their doors and all the young people who came out."