Back to Skule™ 2020 with ChemE student leaders: Madison Desembrana

As Chem Club prepares for the 2020-21 Skule™ year, writer Amanda Hacio caught up with incoming Chem Club Chair, Madison Desembrana (ChemE 1T9+1+PEY), to learn more about what her plans are for the upcoming Skule™ year, how she’s preparing for the Fall, and how students can get involved in Chem Club.

This is part two of three in the “Back to Skule™ 2020 with ChemE student leaders” series.

Madison Desembrana (ChemE 1T9+1+PEY) is the incoming Chem Club Chair for the 2020-21 Skule™ year.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve lived in the GTA all my life and learned about ChemE through my brother, who is a ChemE 1T1. I started to get involved in student life after my first go at second year — the Skulecommunity really helped me find my roots, and I wanted to give back! I joined Chem Club as a Class Representative and since then, it’s been a really fulfilling time.

This year is my final year in ChemE as I complete my bioengineering minor. I also had the opportunity to work at a manufacturing company for my PEY Co-op that paid close attention to environmental impact and stewardship, which reaffirmed my choice in the minor as well.

Outside of class, I love taking my dog on kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding trips, trying new kinds of bubble tea and playing card games with friends.

For students new to ChemE this year, can you tell us a bit more about Chem Club and its mission?

Chem Club is the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Council providing leadership and representation for all ChemE undergraduate students. We bridge the gap between the student body, the Department and the Skule™ community. Our mission is to ensure that each ChemE student’s academic and social experience is the best it can be!

Chem Club hosts several social events throughout the year including trivia nights, movie nights and the annual Dinner Dance, in addition to providing many academic services such as continuous feedback and townhalls. Chem Club is also responsible for the ChemE Undergraduate Common room, located in WB238, where you can find foosball, ping pong, billiards, a Wii and a vending machine.

What do you and your team at Chem Club have planned for the 2020-21 academic year so far and what events should students look out for? 

This year, we’re making engagement, inclusivity and transparency our main goals for every initiative or event we host. To best serve our “Chemmunity,” we are excited to share the following initiatives and services for students to participate in this year:

  • Discord Server modelled after our Common Room
  • First-Year Mentorship Program
  • Trivia nights
  • Wellness Days
  • Chembook Committee
  • ChemE mural (to be painted outside the undergraduate common room)
  • Annual Dinner Dance (pending for February or March 2021)
  • … and many more we cannot wait to share with you!

You can find more information on these initiatives and services on our Quercus page, Chemmunity Engagement, which students can access on their Quercus Dashboard.

What University, Faculty and/or Department resources have you found most helpful to manage the changes brought on by COVID-19 and the pivot to online learning? 

Our undergraduate advisor, Vanessa Andres, has been an amazing resource for support and information during these challenging times, in addition to all the support she has provided throughout the year!

Additionally, the FAQs published by the Faculty have been extremely helpful for us to refer to, as well as the updates from Dean Yip. We will also be posting all University, Faculty, Department and Engineering Society updates and FAQs to our Quercus page, Chemmunity Engagement, so students can find them all in one spot.

What advice do you have for students going into the school year? 

Treat this year as a fresh start: Take this opportunity to set a clean slate for yourself and explore your interests—talk to new people, attend different events, whatever you want to do—the Chemmunity and Skule™ community are here to welcome you with open arms! There are many different clubs, teams and people you can meet. It adds so much more diversity to your experience and definitely decreases the feelings of isolation (at least for me!)

It’s okay to ask for help and lean on others: You aren’t alone in your experience—in fact, you have a place here! University itself is a big transition, and now with the pivot to online learning, it might feel even more daunting. While we might not be physically together right now, the Chemmunity bonds are strong because it’s the people that make it what it is!

Not everyone’s path through university is the same: Don’t sweat it if yours isn’t ‘perfect.’ This opportunity is for you to craft your own story! I found that out after my second year in ChemE (ask me about what my graduating year (1T9+1+PEY) means if you want to know more!)

How can students get in touch with you or your club to learn more or to get involved? 

To get in touch with us, students can email us at, message us on FacebookInstagram or through Quercus. First year students can get involved in Chem Club by becoming a first-year class rep, an IT director or sign up to become a mentee in our Mentorship Program. More information on positions can be found through our Quercus page or our website.

Remember that Chem Club is always here to support you throughout the year—please reach out to us if you have any concerns or ideas for new initiatives!