‘Purpology’ explores lives of high-performing students

It’s not exactly a lesson you can pick up in class.

Here to help the Western community become better acquainted with, well, itself, is purpology.com – a new blog published by students from the university’s Scholar’s Electives and Western Scholars programs.

Boasting to be a “study of the Stangs,” the blog was born last October out of the Scholarly Scoop, a publication originally meant exclusively for Scholar’s Electives students, to keep them informed and provide a sense of community, said Rebecca Smith, Western’s Scholars’ Programs coordinator who, with student bloggers, is publishing purpology.com.

With more than 10 student bloggers from the programs, the blog features posts about student interests, humour, talents, travels and academics.

One of the blog’s aims, Smith explained, is to give an inside look, a portrait of the personal, professional and academic lives of Western’s high-achieving students – both inside the gates and beyond.

“It’s for the scholars programs community and the Western community. It attracts scholars programs students to see what their peers are doing, but we’re not just showing their academic side; (the blog) shows the diversity of Western students in general,” she said.

“If we took the scholars programs part out of the mix, the students are still Western students, involved in clubs, various sports and competitions on campus, living in residence, living off campus. I feel as though the blog started off as a community-building project but what we’ve created is so diverse, it’s for any Western student.”

Smith said for high-achieving high school students, the likes of whom Western wants to recruit into the scholars programs, the blog serves as a great recruitment and promotional tool, giving those outside of the Western bubble a look into the everyday lives of students in these programs as well as a relatable story, interest or situation, to top it all off.

And Grace Nasri, a third-year Scholar’s Electives student who helped to launch the blog, sees such benefits also.

“With the blog, we had a vision to give a space to students to express themselves, share their campus experiences, interests to their family, friends and the community as well,” Nasri said.

“The blog provides a window for people to know who we really are – not just a bunch of people studying in their rooms. We’re trying to demonstrate a diverse group of students involved in arts, athletics and academics. That’s why it appealed to us to have a slogan like ‘The Study of the Stangs,’ because the students are diverse and broad. We represent Western in that sense; we are just like the Stangs, only in our program.”

And the blog doesn’t just introduce students to their peers and common interests. A new feature on the blog is video interviews with professors, introducing students, by way of accessible and casual chats, to those who will teach and mentor them on campus.

Physics professor Martin Zinke-Allmang, the first to be interviewed, said this is a great idea because it will help students feel more acquainted with the campus community and their professors, making them more comfortable, especially during the first year.

Coming soon to the blog is a feature called ‘Ask a Stang,’ offering advice applicable to the Western community as a whole, on topics such as finances, academics and relationships. Smith said guest posts from professors are also on the horizon.

“It’s grown into something that people visit on a daily basis,” said Nasri, adding that since the launch, the blog has received more than 2,300 hits.

The blog provides a safe space for students, whether incoming, new or seasoned, to connect with their peers and the Western community, to learn more about the university and one another, while celebrating successes and identifying challenges together,” Smith added.

“I’d like to see it grow more,” she said.