For students like Brady Doucette, who have an interest in both the sciences and the arts, choosing a program in University has often meant putting one interest over the other. Cape Breton University’s Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Environment (BASE) Program is making that choice a thing of the past.
BASE is an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree which offers students the knowledge and training necessary to help lead our generation to a more sustainable future. Perspectives from both the arts and science disciplines come together to offer a holistic learning experience that is unlike anything else.
Brady, who is from Potlotek Mi’kmaq Nation, Cape Breton, says he previously struggled to find his place in the world of academics, often changing his major and feeling unsure. “When I heard about the BASE program I was very intrigued,” says Brady. “I would finally be able to express my enjoyment of both the sciences and the arts in one academic program.”
Brady will become the first Mi’kmaq student to graduate from the BASE program and says it will be a great honour. “I want this example to encourage other Mi’kmaq youth to apply for post-secondary education,” says Brady. “There are endless opportunities in our world and the only way to experience them is to put yourself out there.”
Something else that drew Brady to the BASE program was the focus on Indigenous studies. “BASE incorporates aspects of Two-Eyed Seeing, which is so important both inside the classroom and in our communities,” says Brady. “CBU is on unceded Mi’kmaq territory and the stories of our ancestors have been passed down for many generations. This knowledge should be cherished.”
Now entering his third year of the program, Brady says he loves the flexibility he is given within the BASE program to hone in on his individual interests. “Personally, I enjoy working with plants and writing, so some of my courses in the coming semester will be plant taxonomy and nature writing,” he says.
For students who may be considering the BASE program, Brady says it’s a great way to keep your options open. “If you decide down the road that one discipline or the other suits you more, you already have a strong foundation,” he explains. “But BASE offers the best of both, while highlighting environmental conservation and Indigenous culture. If these things are of interest to you, give BASE a try.”
Brady’s favourite class so far has been Principles of Ecology with Dr. Ken Oakes. “The life Dr. Oakes brings to the classroom through his obvious passion for the material is contagious,” says Brady. “He’s also passionate about the long term success of his students, and the skills he has helped me to develop are things I can apply to my current job as well as in future opportunities.”
Caring relationships such as this are one of the things Brady enjoys most about being a student at CBU. “It’s so easy to get to know others because everyone is so friendly,” says Brady. “There are many people at CBU who I am very glad to call my life-long friends.” Two of these people are Student Life and Community Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer Billard, and Residence Life Coordinator, Christine Harrietha. “Jenn and Christine have been the best support system anyone could ask for,” he shares.
Brady has a few more credits to go before he will graduate from the program, so for now, he’s making the most of his time at CBU. “I’m in no rush, I’m enjoying my time as a student while I can,” says Brady. “You never know what’s around the river bend, I’m just enjoying the now.”