'Small ripples create meaningful change and lasting waves,' says UPEI student who earned fellowship

Math is not Berry Genge's strongest subject, but she credits her desire to solve problems and her interest in how things work for making her want to study engineering.

The fourth-year UPEI student was one of 10 chosen in Canada this spring to become 3M National Student Fellows. The honour, administered by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), recognizes students who demonstrate leadership qualities both on and off campus.

Genge told CBC News pursuing a career in engineering doesn't require you to be a math whiz.

"A lot of folks assume you have to have like 100s or 90s in math or science, especially in high school, and I just want to be a testament: That isn't always the case.

"It's really for people who want to be problem-solvers."

Genge said she chose to study at the University of Prince Edward Island because its School of Sustainable Design Engineering offered her a more hands-on approach.

"I really like interacting with people. I like finding out why things are happening the way they are. So being able to talk to people and then actually design something that they'll use ... is really important to me."

As VP of advocacy at the Engineering Success Center, Berry Genge helped get Muslim engineering students a more suitable place for prayer
Genge is also a student associate at the Engineering Success Centre on the UPEI campus. (UPEI)

Creating meaningful change through engineering design wasn't the only route pursued by Genge, who has received several campus-wide distinctions, including the inaugural "Panther for Life" award for campus spirit in 2023.

"I do a lot of small things around the university. Small ripples create meaningful change and lasting waves," she said.

New prayer space for Muslim students

For example, when she served as the vice president of advocacy for the UPEI Engineering Society, she lobbied for change based on things students brought to her attention — like the fact that Muslim students in the Sustainable Design Engineering building didn't have a suitable prayer space nearby.

"We had some talks with some students, and eventually this concern was brought to the dean, and we were able to implement a much cleaner space for these students to go to their daily call of prayer," she said.

As part of her award, Genge will meet the other 3M National Student Fellows later this month at the 3M Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference in Niagara Falls, Ont.