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Double or nothing

Meet James Newman, a second-year Physics and Computer Science student at McGill University. We spoke to James about his incredible university experience, outstanding achievements, and plans for the future.

Finding McGill

Originally from a small town outside Toronto, James wanted to spread his wings and fly across the country to undertake a bachelor’s degree at an incredible university. James knew he wanted to attend a top university in Canada, but he was unsure where to land. He searched and discovered fantastic institutions like the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and McGill University. After researching and discussing the institutions with former and current students, he was set on McGill University. “I wanted to be around people who were just as ambitious and academically driven.”

Pushed to the limit

James assessed his options and found that McGill University fit him perfectly, as it provided the courses he wanted to specialize in. “My main priorities were physics, computer science, and business. I saw that McGill had two of these options with additional electives in business, so I knew this was the opportunity I had to jump on.” One of the main reasons for James taking a double major was that he wanted to push himself. “I wanted to learn as much as possible and get the most out of my university experience. Whether that meant doing a double major, a couple of minors, or research projects, I would always push myself.” Not only did McGill meet James’ academic standards, but the university's social life and overall atmosphere were remarkable.

Vibrant, inclusive, diverse

“McGill is both welcoming and inclusive, so I saw great potential in growing a friendship group, networking, and connecting with a great community.” So, he packed up and moved to the beautiful city of Montreal. The student life at McGill is vibrant and diverse. According to James, it’s a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. “It’s very inclusive. I feel like it’s also diverse as it attracts students from Europe, the U.S., and all over Canada. This young student states that McGill University has affordable and high-quality facilities and supportive faculty. Most importantly, this student is most grateful for the culture and community at McGill. “Everybody’s so different, you can find your community here, and that’s amazing. Everyone is super welcoming and willing to help. They might not give you the answers, but they will aid you in finding the solution to your problems.”

Head turning tech

James explained why he chose his double major in Physics and Computer Science. “I’ve always loved technology and business, but technology has always stuck with me.” During our interview, James expressed that technology is an ever-evolving essential part of our lives. “Everything around us was either built or designed, somehow created by a computer.” This young student told us that technology is still at the edge of its capabilities, “lots of tech is still super new,” so there’s a whole world yet to be unlocked. “Technology influences everything, so I wanted to learn more about it,” James observed the potential in taking a double major in Physics and Computer Science alongside a minor in Entrepreneurship. He wanted to combine the driving forces of our society and tailor his learning to what’s going on in the real world.

Act like a computer scientist and think like a physicist

This young student describes his course as having a traditional computer science background, but the methodology requires thinking like a physicist. “When you think of mathematicians, you think of someone that focuses on the known, applying formulas and doing calculations. However, with a Physics and Computer Science double major, you create solutions from tailored formulas that can be applied to the most versatile technologies.” James’ course is all about creation, creativity, and innovation. He explained that instead of applying formulas, you are creating formulas and, in turn, creating solutions to real-world problems.

Realistic goals

One of the main things James has learned while at university is realistic goal setting. He explained the importance of setting realistic and obtainable goals when studying a long degree such as Physics and Computer Science. “Every class has its difficulties, and if you look at how much work you have at the end of the week, you may become overwhelmed,” James recommends future students to set achievable goals within a specified time frame that can help you compartmentalize your studies and gain more out of your university experience. “If you look at your studies and think I have 300 more weeks to get a four-year degree, then it seems like a lot of work, but breaking things down into steps is more valuable as it allows you to focus on what matters in the present moment,” James mentioned that while at university he completed an Iron Man which aided his academic progress by integrating discipline into his routine. While at university, you may have the opportunity to participate in various events. James recommends taking every new path that may come your way.

Exceptional societies

During his time at McGill, James has been a part of a few societies and clubs. This student is the Mentor Executive for the Speak to Lead club, encouraging students to engage in public speaking. “We provide mentors, usually graduate students with experience speaking in front of large audiences.” These students then mentor others who want to improve their speaking and communication skills. James is part of an excellent organization called IGEM, which deals with synthetic biology. “It’s like a science fair, a yearly event that goes national and worldwide, where you bring your innovative synthetic biology-based project with the hopes of revolutionizing a facet of human life.”

What does the future hold for James Newman? When asked this question, he expressed that he prefers to remain in the present moment, as there is so much to be grateful for. However, he is excited to participate in a college exchange next year, where he may travel to the UK, U.S., or Denmark. James wants to make the most of his degree, and he commends McGill University on their excellent Physics and Computer Science program, alongside the accommodating atmosphere. “I want to enjoy myself at this amazing university; kudos to everyone who recommended it because I can look back now and say they were right.” Eventually, James would like to pursue an MBA once he graduates from McGill while strengthening his skills surrounding AI and business. “My whole idea is to have a tech and AI base, then stretch into business to strive towards well-roundedness.” This future CEO gave his advice on how to navigate university life. “Find your vocation, find your calling, find something you love because that’s the only way you can become a master at it.”