Success demands dedication
We at Cybernews Academy welcome Ananya Luthra, a BA Computer Science and Economics student from McGill University, Canada. We spoke with Ananya about her experience at university, moving away from home, and what motivated her to undertake this double major.
Originally from India, at 19 years old, Ananya Luthra traveled a long distance to find her dream university. Being an excellent student at her former high school, Ananya and her parents had big aspirations for the young student. They believed she should attend a high-ranked university as education is an investment. After finishing high school, Ananya knew she wanted to go straight into her undergraduate studies but didn’t know where she wanted to go. She thought about the U.S. and Canada as options to explore. However, she knew she had to attend a high-quality university that could give her the skills to break into the industry post-graduation. That’s when she decided and was set on a university in Canada.
Committing to Canada
Once she had committed to Canada, she targeted significant universities in the area. “I focused mainly on McGill University and the University of British Columbia as they offered more relevant courses to my field.” So, Ananya decided to study Computer Science and Economics at McGill as this university would provide a “good combination” of skills. Despite her lack of experience in business, she was interested in learning the mechanics of the discipline, as business and STEM govern our lives as we know them. “I’ve never studied economics, I’m from a science background, so I wanted to delve more into business, technology, and AI– so I chose this double major to see a blend of both worlds.” This student describes Computer Science and Economics as a “powerful combination due to technology and economics governing everything.”
Compelled to apply
McGill’s top university status and interdisciplinary programs appealed to the aspiring student. Another aspect that compelled Ananya’s application process was the research and faculty. She expressed that the facilities, faculty, and research produced at McGill are excellent. Ananya describes the university as diverse: "McGill welcomes thousands of international students each year, " creating an incredibly unique and inclusive working environment. Alongside the unique nature of McGill University, Ananya told Cybernews Academy that Montreal, the area of Canada where her university is located, is a beautiful and affordable place for students. She recalls that it was once voted one of the best livable cities in Canada. The culture of Canada was favorable, and Ananya knew that she needed to be in a comfortable, friendly environment to thrive. McGill University is located in downtown Montreal and “it’s gorgeous here; it feels like a second Europe as 90% of the population speaks French, so it has a French feel.” This student sees the beauty in the quaint town with picturesque views and cascading mountains along the backdrop of the university campus.
Throughout our interview, Ananya discussed that her course demands dedication and isn’t for the faint of heart. However, McGill University offers a nice balance between rigorous courses and practical programs. Ananya described how different education in India is compared to Canada. “I was used to the academic structure of India, so when I arrived in Canada, I wasn’t used to the structure here.” She learned that you have to cover many topics and there is a specific deadline for everything. “I have previously been given three exams on one day and two exams the next day. I would have to revise for five exams in a 15-day time crunch because I had assignments for the rest of the semester.” She explained that her course is extremely cerebral yet rewarding. Throughout her time at university, Ananya learned to manage and balance her work, school, and personal life. “I learned to manage several things within a given time constraint.”On top of her academic studies, as an international student, she had to work on the side. Ananya mentioned that balancing everything was difficult. However, she still manages to juggle her academic, extra-curricular, and part-time work. Now, she feels adjusted to her environment and has mastered her work-life balance.
Despite Ananya’s busy schedule, she still participates in internships and extra-curricular activities. “I love doing extracurricular activities, especially when it comes to acting, dancing, and public speaking.” Ananya is the Communications Officer for the Economics Student Association and the Theatre Society at McGill University. She has competed in various hackathons and debate competitions. At university, Ananya completed various internships, which she had to source externally. “I did a research internship at the University of Denver where I wrote a systematic literature review on autonomous vehicles.” After this, she worked at one of the most reputable banks in Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada, as a Data Analyst Intern. She was one of the few students chosen to undertake one of the most prestigious programs called Amplify, where she led a team of data analysts. This internship lasted four months and consisted of a hackathon-type project where a team would devise solutions to the bank's problems. This incredible experience helped Ananya gain computer science and economics knowledge.
Throughout her university experience, Ananya discovered new things about herself. “Student life has taught me to mature, compromise, understand people, and not be rigid.” Living with others in shared accommodation provided valuable lessons and helped Anaya step out of her comfort zone. In the future, Ananya wants to continue her academic career by applying for a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. She wants to continue cultivating her craft and eventually break into the industry. As the interview ended, Ananya gave some advice to readers planning on undertaking an undergraduate degree. “Get to know your interests early, grab all the opportunities you can at an early stage, and decide which you like most.” She advises our readers to pursue their hobbies, engage in extracurricular activities, and grow holistically. “Follow your interests. Everyone studies, everyone gets a GPA, but at the end of the day, what matters most is how diversified you are.”