Twice As Many Growth Opportunities: Malijha Moyan's Double Degree Journey
Is a double degree twice as hard? Malijha Moyan has been finding out for herself. She lives and goes to the University of Alberta in Edmonton and is originally from Swan River. In her fourth year of studying education and Native studies, she’s the president of the Indigenous students union. Initially she was just interested in Native Studies, but an opportunity to complete a combined degree with education with just one extra year of studies, landing her two degrees, caught her eye. After taking a couple education courses, she realized she wanted to be a teacher.
Before university, Moyan went to high school at St. Joseph’s, graduating during the pandemic. The experience was stressful and she felt fortunate to have the support of Braided Journeys, a program to help Indigenous students where she was involved with leadership and got to participate in powwow dancing. The fun extracurricular activities motivated her to go to school and the experience of participating in leadership in high school made her want to get more involved in leadership in her university community.
Because Moyan grew up in Edmonton, she didn’t have to leave her home community to pursue her education. All she has to do is take the bus and trains to get to school. One of her biggest obstacles has been balancing her schoolwork, volunteer activities and home life. Prioritizing her role as a student and also having fun with family is a balancing act and she enjoys being involved in her school community and in leadership. What is really rewarding in her volunteering role is being part of a team that is working to make a positive school environment for Indigenous students, along with offering scholarships and bursaries. There’s space where students can study and make snacks and it’s something that she loves being part of.
To help find balance in her busy life, she uses an agenda to write everything down and plan everything. Moyan also uses Google calendar, sets boundaries to make sure her social and school life don’t take too much away from family time. “Planning it out is really important,” she says.
What inspires her to stay in school is to be able to earn enough to live comfortably when she’s older and maybe be able to afford a trailer or a quad. Moyan also wants to be a teacher to influence students to open their minds and think for themselves. Keeping her going with volunteering with the Indigenous students union is the knowledge that the union has helped her and she reciprocates in helping them. “We all support each other,” she beams. Family and friends don’t always understand what she’s going through and it’s nice to know there are people who do at school.
If she could give her younger self advice, it would be that university can be a lot easier than high school and graduating and getting into university can be the hardest part. That’s what her experience was, ultimately. She would want to tell herself how fun university will be, even if it is challenging. She feels like if she knew that, she might have taken high school more seriously. “All I can say is that university’s a very fun time and enjoy it,” she grins.
A double degree is an extra year but it seems that Malijha Moyan has twice as many positive experiences to share. Volunteering, studying, spending time with people she loves, she’s thriving as she learns, looking towards the future with optimism. With the support of a strong Indigenous student community in her studies, she finds ways to be part of making life better for her peers and has encouraged people to lean on her.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.