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Student Success Week Spotlight: Mathea Belluk

As part of Student Success Week, we are featuring UM students who have a story to tell about their experiences navigating the challenges of student life.

February 29, 2024 — 

Mathea Belluk was born and raised in a small town just outside of Winnipeg. Mathea is a fourth-year student within the Faculty of Arts, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Psychology. She works as a Student Office Assistant in Student Experience and Development (SEAD) and is currently assisting with the development of the Student Leadership Development Program (SLDP).

Mathea Belluk | Student Office Assistant, Student Experience and Development

Mathea Belluk | Student Office Assistant, Student Experience and Development

Has anything unplanned or unexpected happened during your studies? How did you handle it?

My first two years of university didn’t necessarily go as planned. All of my classes were online, and going to campus wasn’t much of an option, thanks to COVID-19. So, I attended classes, turned in assignments, and wrote exams from the comfort of my own home. Friends would sing the praises of how liberating it felt to be able to attend classes within minutes of waking up, but I didn’t feel the same way. I no longer felt as though there was much separation between my home and school life, and it was challenging for me to stay motivated, which began to reflect in my grades.

The unpredictability that came with the pandemic made it unclear how much longer classes would remain distanced. I didn’t want to give up on myself, and since I was experiencing such a lack of motivation early on in the first term, I knew I had to figure out how I could make each day feel a little more bearable. I implemented a sort of rewards system for myself, scattering “events” that I began to look forward to throughout the day. This could include anything from making a second cup of coffee, to going on a 15-minute walk, to watching an episode of a TV show. These rewards, even if small, broke up the day and made it tolerable, and I still use this system to a degree today.

We all have uncertainties about our future. What is your tip or trick for handling the unknown?

The unknown can be very unsettling, and not knowing where to start can make things feel even more daunting. It hasn’t always been easy for me to “go with the flow.” I have always liked having a plan and knowing what to expect. The thing about the future, though, is that it’s hard to know what’s coming, and nothing is ever guaranteed. Having a plan never hurts, but when you encounter an obstacle, you have to trust in your ability to get back on track, which is one of the most valuable things I’ve had to learn.

It often feels like the biggest defeat when things don’t go according to plan, but no matter how infuriating it may be, and no matter how hard I may have to work to get back on track, I find it helpful to acknowledge what has happened, so that I can keep moving forward. I owe it to myself to try my hardest and give it my all, and so do you!

What helps you balance all the aspects of your life as a student?

Figuring out how to find balance as a student can certainly be a feat. I cannot lie: time management is a skill that I have yet to perfect! Sometimes it’s a little too tempting to push things off to the side, in which case I eventually find myself needing to cancel plans, so that I can work frantically against the clock, and hopefully finish something in time. I’ve tried a number of apps, agendas, and planners, most of which just didn’t really work for me. I would either forget to use them, forget to refer to them, or just forget about them altogether. It was only recently that I discovered the wonders of a blank monthly calendar, in which I can write all of the important dates that I need to keep in mind. I find it helpful to be able to have a bird’s eye view of all the due dates, exam dates, and personal plans for the term. It also gives me the ability to plan out my social and personal life in a way that doesn’t interfere with my schoolwork. This way, I can see what is upcoming, so that I can get a jump on the things that need to be completed.

I think it’s important to give yourself grace when it comes to time management. Figuring out how to navigate campus, classes, and schoolwork while also trying to balance other aspects of life and maintain personal wellbeing can be challenging, and it doesn’t always come easy. Some things will work out, and others won’t. Allow yourself to make mistakes and forgive yourself for what you may not have anticipated. Go easy on yourself!

What message do you have for new or returning sudents when it comes to being successful at the University and in life?

When it comes to being successful, whatever your definition of success may be, I think it’s important to step outside of your comfort zone a bit, whether that be in your personal, professional, or academic life. Do the things that challenge and scare you, and lean into the discomfort that may come with it. Not to be totally cliché, but there’s this saying, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, and I feel as though they are good words to live by.

What do you find most exciting when you think of the future?

I have worked hard to get to where I am now, and I know that one day, all my hard work will pay off. Although I haven’t quite decided which route I’d like to take following graduation, I know that when I figure it out, I can feel proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished, big and small, and I think that’s exciting in itself.

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