Stepping Stones: Season 2


Getting the email confirmation that SAMU was invited back to the Edmonton Urban farm was truly the BEST daylight savings treat. An opportunity to grant our students more avenues into community building in a common place, outside with nature right in our city.

I immediately began to reflect on the crops planted last year that would make for a great humus layer to enhance the black gold (soil) nutrients. I bundled up Early April and head out to the plot to assess what was still standing from our winter season. Dill, Peruvian Mint (Huacatay), Corn Stalks, marigold, and a few others I couldn’t identify until rubbing my fingers against them. Creeping thyme, it’s back…it’s green, oh my!

I returned only but a few weeks later to see such luscious WEEDS! And knew then, my work would truly begin in preparing for our exciting growing season.

With the 2 Acres of plot land for over 50 farmers, we are no strangers to weeds that erupt within our plots. What I learned from urban farm school this year, taught me that I’d put in a bit of extra effort in identifying weeds this season. To begin, I observe what weeds I’ve seen other cultures within the farm consume or use for remedies as often they look like seedlings until they smother your crops of course.

I made my way with some clever weeding tools and moved through stinging nettle, dandelions, quack grass, crabgrass, and more dandelions. Tough labor for sure! But, it’s rewarding to better understand what can be beneficial for us humans is not always the best for our crop growth and soil health.

Join us at the farm every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to learn about plot maintenance, how to identify weeds, and what to do with them once you’ve uprooted them.

-Macey Nortey, SAMU Programs Manager

Student Group Spotlight – Muslim Student Organization

We’re excited to introduce the Student Group Spotlight! Every month, we will feature a different student group to demonstrate the many diverse groups we have at MacEwan and how they all contribute to a vibrant, thriving community on our campus.
Meet The Muslim Student Organization! We sat down with three of their members to discuss how they won the Student Group of the Year award, their work for the community, and what they enjoy most about their involvement with the group.

SAMU: Thanks for sitting down with us! We’re excited to have you as our first Spotlight interview. For our readers, please introduce yourselves.
Adnan: Thank you for having us! My name is Adnan, and I’m a second-year marketing student. I’m also the President of MSO.
Omar: Likewise! I’m Omar, a third-year accounting student and also the Vice-President.
Rowan: And I’m Rowan, a fourth-year psychology student and the Events Coordinator for our group!

SAMU: What is the MSO, and what do you do?
MSO: We are the Muslim Student Organization. As a group, our goal is to form a community for the Muslim students on campus and help them feel included while helping others on campus understand Islam. To do this, we engage in a lot of community work and fundraising initiatives, including raising funds for those impacted by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, a collaboration with the Muslim Students’ Association at the University of Alberta to provide care packages to the homeless on New Years’ Eve, and hosting Iftar to invite students to come together and break their fast.

SAMU: Why did each of you decide to join the MSO?
Adnan: I consider this my real “first year” at MacEwan since my actual first year was entirely online, and I didn’t feel like I got a proper university experience. I wanted to do more than attend classes and complete assignments. At the time, a friend in the MSO invited me to join, and I decided to take that leap. Since I joined, I’ve found myself taking the initiative and following through on big projects, and that effort has paid off!
Omar: Last year, I attended an event where I met the then President of the MSO. While I didn’t know much then, he invited me to attend their next meeting. It was there that I got a feel for the group. I particularly liked their focus on community work. I decided to join, and I haven’t looked back since.
Rowan: I’ve always been interested in student and community involvement, but finding the right group to engage with online took time. When I met Adnan and Omar at an event, they invited me to participate in the group. I got involved with the MSO, and it’s been great! This has been a fantastic opportunity to engage with the community and participate in campus life beyond studying.

SAMU: You recently won the Student Group of the Year award at the SAMU Awards. Congratulations! What does this mean for the MSO?
MSO: Thank you! It makes us feel proud and thrilled to receive this award. It reminds us that the work we’ve put in over the last year has paid off and shows recognition for us as an important part of this community. However, it also reminds us that everything we’ve accomplished is something to build off and keep going. We want to keep improving and hosting more impactful events and initiatives for our community. This award is an essential step in that direction!

SAMU: Tell us about a recent event or initiative you hosted that you’re particularly proud of.
MSO: Every semester, we host a fundraiser by selling boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts, where all the profits go to a charity that is important to us. In the Fall, we sold 160 boxes. While we were proud of this, we wanted to ramp up our efforts for the Winter, and we sold 250 boxes! If we’re honest, though, we could have sold 500 with the interest we got! We were thrilled with the support that came out from the campus community. The fundraiser was a fantastic way to get our name out on campus and raise money for a good cause.

SAMU: What is your favourite part about being a member of the MSO and the Student Groups community?
Omar: The best part about being a member of MSO is the community. We’re recognized as family and friends by everyone we work with and by those we might not have had a relationship with otherwise. There are so many different groups with really diverse interests which we’ve met with (like the Law Club and the Motorsports Club). Being a member of the MSO and the student groups community has opened many doors for me, teaching me a sense of responsibility and pride for our community.
Rowan: It’s a fantastic way to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t, not just within the student groups community but other connections, too. We have to work with many different groups to put on the events we do, and it’s introduced me to so many different people that I just wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t a part of this. On top of that, it adds to the regular university experience of studying. It lets me take on new projects and practice different skills!
Adnan: I love all the work we do. From the fundraisers to the community events, meetings, and everything else, I have so much fun as a member of this group. Meeting more people and getting my name out there has also been great. Now, people recognize me and know who I am, which is great as someone who values both his personal brand and building strong relationships within my community.

SAMU: What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a student group?

MSO: Go for it! It’s fantastic to be part of a student group. However, be prepared to work. Many expect these groups to be low commitment, but staying active requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work with planning and executing all sorts of projects. Thankfully, this work is so rewarding, and you get back everything you put in! There are so many groups out there, and there’s something for everyone’s interest, so go with something that appeals to you!

You can connect with the Muslim Student Organization on social media through Instagram (@macean.mso), Twitter (@MacEwanMSO), and Facebook (MacEwan MSO), or on their website at

Follow SAMU on social media through Instagram (@sa_macewan), Twitter (@SAMacEwan), and Facebook (Students’ Association of MacEwan University) to stay up to date on the latest events, programs, and services from your students’ association.

Awards Night Recap 2023

It has been an incredible and challenging year filled with amazing milestones, achievements and progress. We are so proud of everything that has been accomplished at SAMU this year and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful part-time staff, full-time staff, volunteers and student groups. To celebrate the year’s achievements and recognize those that helped make SAMU so successful this year, we hosted an Awards Night on March 31, 2023.  Check out our recap of the award nominees and winners here.

Fight Loneliness With Friends: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Friends in University

We’re finally back in school! As we all readjust, whether returning from break and getting back into the swing of things or perhaps joining us at MacEwan University for the first time (and if this is the case, welcome!), there are all kinds of emotions in the air right now. Some of you might be feeling excited and exuberant, which is incredible! However, perhaps it is even more common to feel anxious and alarmed. After all, the expectation of functioning in front of hundreds of students roaming from pedway to classroom is ridiculous. 


For many of us, the terrifying aspect of returning to campus is being surrounded by tons of strangers, which can sometimes make us tense up and go throughout our day while avoiding everything. Is someone giving out free goodies and snacks? I’d rather not. How about a drop-in event where you can socialize and make friends with others? Maybe some other time. If this describes you, I PROMISE you are NOT alone. What I described above applies to almost everyone. 


For some individuals, these feelings boil down to the fact that the university experience can sometimes feel alienating and isolating. Every familiar face follows one hundred unfamiliar faces, and for most of us, it takes years to develop a solid network of friends. During some of my campus-wide interviews last semester, I asked students how they would respond to a stranger initiating a conversation with them in class. Unsurprisingly, the majority stated that they would be open to this idea. In fact, many students said they’d love to have this when entering a class for the first time, where a nearby classmate helps get the ball rolling and eases others into having a conversation. However, when I asked students if they would be open to being the conversation initiator, most said they would never do that. But, considering that we all want to make friends, why is it so hard to get the ball rolling? Well, one might feel this way for a million different reasons, from mental health concerns to an overall lack of interest, but for this blog post, I want to focus on the absolute basics. That is, learning how to initiate conversations with strangers on campus.


Let’s imagine for a second that you enter a class and arrive late. None of the good seats are left, and you can no longer hide in the back corner! So, you sit in the middle, sandwiched between two people. There are five minutes before class starts, and some people pull out their phones and scroll social media. Others are awkwardly waiting, fidgeting with their pen or shuffling through their notes. This is a great time to make friends if you’re in this position! So, what do you do next? Well, this goes back to getting the ball rolling. You might have a million thoughts circling your head along the lines of “Oh my goodness, what do I say? I don’t want to come off as weird or embarrass myself!”. As previously mentioned (and according to most students I interviewed), most students are open to a stranger striking up a friendly conversation! So go ahead and take your shot. It’s already established that you are in the same class, so why not start there? 


“What are your thoughts on the homework assignment?” 


“Do you enjoy this class? What do you think of the prof?”


“Hey, could you share the last class’s notes with me? I rushed my notes in the end, missing some details.”  


At this point, you’re talking to the person beside you, which would be a good time to segway into a casual conversation before or after your class. Talk about your courses, what you’re majoring/minoring in, plans after graduating, or what you do for fun outside class. Talking about slightly more personal details like these further helps form a bond with the person you’re next to, and usually, at this point, the other person would be interested in getting your contact information. 


So, you’ve gotten to know the person next to you, and you can safely say you have a friend in your class. Great job, you are now a certified befriender! And if you were successful with this guide, then I challenge you to repeat this every time you enter a class. Get to know the people who sit close to you and introduce your new friends to one another to develop a solid circle. And if you’re up for it, get to know your professors too! They’re also interested in getting to know students better, and lots of them would appreciate it if you came by and said hi! With your new friend circle (or even by yourself), attend some of our incredible events, join and make clubs, volunteer, and have fun outside class! There’s a whole world of things to do on campus, and every little event is one massive opportunity to meet new friends!


Remember, developing a solid network of friends takes time. But, with some commitment and practice, we can all do this to help each other out and feel less isolated on campus. Loneliness is one of the most significant predictors of depression and anxiety, so by all means, go and say hi to a stranger on campus today. You never know what will happen next! 

Fresh Friday’s – Attitude for Gratitude

Midterms are here, and exams are close by. As students, we’re likely to devote a massive chunk of our attention and efforts to study, and we might cut out important things like proper nutrition, communication, skin care, physical activity, and so many other things that we consider to be everyday aspects of our lives. However, as we cut out these necessities, we may end up focusing on what we’ve lost, potentially spiralling into the negatives and everything wrong with our situation. This could translate into many unwanted and unnoticed changes in our lives, such as waking up and going to bed late, having less energy throughout the day, and not being able to wind down and relax.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, you arrive on campus and begin your day by getting your favourite coffee (or whatever you love to have most in the morning!). The barista hands you your drink with a big friendly smile and wishes you a great day. Next, you head to your favourite class of the semester, and your professor discusses something you’re passionate about. After class, you and some classmates make some jokes here and there, followed by you telling them what the rest of your day looks like, which in this case, is studying for your midterm. You then head to your favourite study spot, and the act of studying overwhelms your mind with negative thoughts. Now you’re back to how you’ve been feeling this entire week, and this process repeats the next day.

However, this raises the question, why do we only focus on the negatives even after having one, two, or a couple of positive things happen in our day? According to research, we’re more receptive to negative information for many reasons, including our proneness to make decisions based on potentially threatening stimuli and our inclination to interpret negative information as more truthful. But even if this is the case, is this negativity bias really the ideal way to live our lives? 

It turns out it isn’t! In fact, many studies within the realm of wellness psychology show that implementing gratitude throughout our day allows us to live happier, improved lives simply because gratitude enables us to divert more attention toward the positives and less toward the negatives. Studies show a significant correlation between gratitude and enhanced mental health and well-being during times of hardship, and being grateful for random things (think about the example from above!) throughout the day is also associated with increased academic performance, greater life satisfaction, and a decrease in negative thoughts. So, considering this, how do we incorporate gratitude into our lives? 

Gratitude journaling is an easy way to accomplish this, where you write down a few things you’re grateful for at any time of the day. Another great idea is writing a thank you note or letter to a friend or faculty member (professors deserve love, too!) or even going up to a classmate and telling them that you’re thankful for their notes or their initiative in asking a good question. And if you’re short on time, even being thankful mentally and counting your blessings, where you think of a few things that you’re grateful for and why you’re thankful for those things, are great options too!

So, the next time you’re studying for an exam, working on a project, or just not having a good time, it’s worthwhile to take a few moments from your schedule to reflect on some of the things you appreciate. Whether it’s the warmth of a room during a snowstorm or the first sip of coffee in the morning, there are many small things we can be thankful for, and actively appreciating these little details can make a huge difference in our well-being.

StressLess – Study Break

Study Break Routine

When you have tons of things to get done, nothing feels better than reaching that flow state where it feels like everything is just working. But, on the reverse side, crashing from that productive high when you still have things to get done can feel disheartening. If you feel yourself getting to this point, it’s time to take a break. However, if you’re like me, taking a break always comes with the risk of falling into a slump and before you know it, the day is ending, and you never got the rest of those things done. When you’ve been working hard and you’re crashing, it can be tempting to spend your break doing something mindless like scrolling through your phone or watching the next episode in whatever series you’re hooked on. However, these activities can easily increase the amount of resistance you face in trying to get back to your work, and you might end up not getting back to it. To avoid that happening, I’ve come up with a study break routine to help you feel refreshed instead of sluggish, and hopefully get you back into that flow state. 

To use your break effectively, start with leaving everything as is, and taking a step away from your workspace. Physically removing yourself from your work environment will help you leave your work at your desk and allow you to shift your focus onto something else. What you don’t want to do is continue thinking about your work during your break. If you spend your whole break thinking about work, then you’re not taking a break. 

After stepping away, check-in with yourself. If you’ve been working for a while, odds are you probably have some physical needs that require tending to. Prepare yourself a nourishing snack, grab a glass of water (maybe with some lemon, if you’re feeling fancy), and sit down. At this point, you’ll probably experience the highest amount of temptation to either scroll your phone or watch something. But, since we’re trying to make sure we get back to work, do your best to avoid giving in to this. Instead, take this time to just sit with yourself, take a breather, and enjoy your snack.

After you’ve replenished your vitals, I’d suggest performing some acts of personal hygiene. This can be washing your face, having a shower, flossing your teeth, or even just changing your clothes. Maybe this is a bit of an odd study break activity, but I find doing something for my hygiene makes me feel refreshed like my day is starting anew. As well, I find simple things like changing my clothes or taking a shower help break up the day, letting me leave what has already happened behind, and focusing on what’s coming up next. 

By now, you should have recovered some of that “fresh start” feeling. Before getting back to work, get your blood flowing with some physical movement. Sitting for a long time can cause stiffness and constrict blood flow, which is not an optimal condition for getting work done. Depending on the weather, you can maybe go for a walk outside, or you can just stay in and do some stretches or a quick at-home workout. Getting a little bit of movement during your break can help bring some energy back into your day and help you feel that much more refreshed. Just make sure you don’t do so much movement that you’re too tired to get any more work done.

 When you’re starting to feel like your mind’s a bit clearer, you’ve regained some energy, and you’re ready to get back to work, do a quick reset of your workspace. Organize your material, put away things you’re finished with and keep out things you still need, remove empty mugs or glasses, and close browser tabs and windows you don’t need open anymore. Before starting again, take stock of what you’ve done, and what you still need to do. After assessing what you still have left to do, decide on somewhere to start, typically on the most important item. Then, get back to it. 

Study Break Checklist

  • Step Away from Workspace
  • Nourish Your Vitals
  • An Act of Personal Hygiene
  • Get Some Movement
  • Organize Your Workspace
  • Take Stock of Tasks
  • Get Back to It