Afia and Safiyya

In this post, longtime Prime Mentors of Canada volunteer mentor, Guy Hamel, shares a note about his 2015-2016 protégés Afia and Safiyya from Thorncliffe Junior Public School.

Originally, I met with each of the girls separately to discuss possible topics and approaches to the research that would be involved. I knew that the two were classmates and close friends. I met with the two together with the notion that each could, once the separate presentations were close to completion, step in as an assistant. I had worked with such arrangements a few times in the past. However, during that initial meeting I realized that the two were extremely congenial, worked together intimately as a team, offered advice, challenged suggestions, were remarkably creative. Their enthusiasm as workmates was an irresistible asset; and I recognized that we should meet together, each of the girls taking a turn as presenter and assistant.

The topics chosen—Safiyya on The Human Brain and Afia on The Human Immune System—were extremely challenging. The presenters realized that they had to demonstrate rather than relate the information they wished to share with their audience. Thy found ways to involve their listeners. They invented what they called “skits”—dramatic interchanges between the two of them—to make certain points, as in demonstrating the cognitive process in decision making from prefrontal cortex to the amygdala and back to the reasoning function to invoke rationalization. They were clever, engaging, and successful.

The result of the project for me was an extremely happy association with my young colleagues; the result for them was to receive scholarships for the outstanding quality of their presentation.

Guy Hamel
Mentor, PMC

Congratulations to Afia and Safiyya and Guy on a job well done!

2015-2016 PMC Afia (left) and Safiyya
Prime Mentors of Canada 2015-2016 Scholarship Winners Afia A. and Safiyya I.
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Protégé Profile: Meet Collin

An avid tennis player who loves to learn, Collin often finds himself balancing athletics with academic pursuits. He is vibrant, wise, and recently started sixth grade at a new school. Last year, Collin completed a Prime Mentors of Canada project with his volunteer mentor, Professor Guy Hamel. Their topic? The rather intricate subject of genetics. In this post, we catch up with Collin as he shares his thoughts on  genetics, presentations, and the importance of trusting others.

deoxyribonucleic-acidWhy Genetics?

Collin became interested in genetics after reading about the topic in the library. He’s fascinated by the idea that genes determine “the characteristics of yourself [not just] when you’re born, but also your future”.

About His Project

Evolution and adaptation, plant evolution, heredity, and chromosomes are just some of the topics in genetics that Collin researched with Professor Hamel.  Early in the project, Collin recognized that the topic would be challenging since “genetics is a very complicated subject. Every day something new comes up.”  Collin was able to explore some of these developments since Professor Hamel would bring in news items for them to discuss.

Working with a Mentor

The aspect of the project Collin found most enjoyable was the opportunity to work with a mentor. “Everybody in this world has something to learn. If you take time to share things, most of the time, it makes you understand and that helps you be wise.”

Collin’s advice for any student starting a PMC project is to “put trust in their mentors.” Cooperating and putting trust in each other will make the project better and help the presentation go smoothly.

Collin and Professor Guy Hamel
Collin and Professor Guy Hamel

Presentation Time!

Every PMC project wraps up with a presentation. Collin likes presentations and thinks it’s important to start practicing at a young age. For his presentation, Collin wanted to take the information he learned about genetics and then “shorten and simplify”.  He wanted to make sure he would be understood easily and that the presentation would be interactive.

Professor Hamel helped Collin work towards the presentation from early on by providing reflective questions. He also guided Collin through the process of setting a goal for the presentation and structuring his presentation to achieve that goal.

Collin presented to his Grade 5 class on April 16th. It was so successful that he was invited to present to Grade 4 students in June. For his work, Collin was awarded the Prime Mentors of Canada Conchita Tan-Willman Scholarship.

Life Outside Academics

Collin describes his experience with PMC as “a big thing that has happened in my life” but it’s far from his only achievement this year. In August, Collin played in the Mini Rogers Cup for under-12 tennis players and won first place in the boys’ doubles competition. This awarded Collin the chance to play his peers at Centre Court at the Rogers Cup ahead of a professional match.

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A Message from Collin to Professor Hamel

To wrap up this post, Collin wants to share a message for his mentor, Professor Guy Hamel:

“It’s been an honour to work with you. Thank you very much. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without you.”


Visit the Prime Mentors of Canada website to learn more about our protégés or how you can get involved!