What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
Initially, when I applied to UTSC, I applied for the Management program, but later got accepted into the Social Sciences stream. I didn't know what to do at first and so I just went with the flow. I took intro courses in Psychology, Sociology, African Studies and French, just so that I could keep my options open and see what would be of most interest to me. I found the courses to be intellectually stimulating and enjoyable. My grades were good and so I decided to take Psychology as a Major, Sociology and Africa Studies as my two minors. I chose that combination simply because I find that they go quite hand in hand. I want to work in the field with people of various backgrounds, and most especially of African origin, and to do that, I want to be able to understand them at the individual level (psychology), and at the social level. I felt very comfortable with my programs and the professors (mainly in sociology and African studies) were approachable and that made me feel included.
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
As much as I enjoy the content in Psychology, it is no joke. The workload is heavy throughout, until maybe when you have to take your D-levels, which, in my opinion, are more interesting and engaging because they don’t focus on testing you through multiple choice but rather through class presentations and a huge paper due at the end of the semester. I took the social stream of Psychology, thus the content and workload in comparison to its bio-stream may be different. I enjoyed both my Sociology and African Studies programs, and was a little sad when they ended. There wasn't a single course that I chose, that I didn't enjoy. Both programs really challenged my writing skills, which I didn't mind because writing has always been one of my strengths. A lot essays are involved in both programs. Professors in both streams always left room for class engagement, so it didn't feel all that boring and long. I'm of African origin, but I didn't know all that there was to know about Africa (I still don't). But taking this program got me to learn more about other African countries, looking at the various issues that Africa and Africans continue to deal with on a daily basis and breaking down the stereotypes about the continent. African Studies is offered as a minor and many people don't know about it but once you get into it, trust me, you won't regret it.
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
I know that there is a lot of pressure from parents, friends and society to do what they all deem "worthy" and something that will definitely land you a job, but I strongly encourage students to do what they enjoy and they won't regret it. Sciences is not everyone's piece of cake, and so venture into what you enjoy and find worthwhile, and of course something that can get you a job in. Also, keep your options open and explore what other programs are out there apart from your own. Visit the Academic Advising and Career Centre and the Registrar’s Office to get guidance from time to time. Although I got accepted into the Social Sciences, I didn't know that I could switch to the Management program, through the selection of intro courses. So, I would definitely advise students to carefully explore the different paths that they could take in order to do the program they want. Last but not least, if taking a program like Psychology, know that it has two components: the Biology stream and the Social stream and depending on your potential career, choose carefully. For example, if you want to one day become a clinical psychologist, then go for the Bio stream (but you're not limited). Otherwise, be like me and choose the Social stream because that is where my strength lies and because I want to engage with people on a more "hands-on" level.
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
After graduation, I plan to take a few years off working and building my home (recently married). Over the years, I have developed an interest in administration, media, and technology and hope that whilst I'm working, I will gain a better perspective on what I want to pursue my Master's in. I will also be taking some college courses to help me discover where my strengths and passion lay. Most likely will end up doing a Master's in Business Administration and IT, or Organizational Psychology, let's see where the road takes me.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
Wow! Let me just say that it has been one heck of a journey, and I'm delighted that it's come to a close. I had been in Canada a little less than 2 years and here I was starting university. I wasn't only new to Canada's university/education system, I was new to the country as a whole and so much was happening at once. I didn't really know what to expect as I entered my first year, but my attitude was that I should take it as it comes, with a positive mindset. I didn't want to enter any course with the mindset that it was going to be hard, because once that thought starts to germinate in your mind, it becomes difficult to really enjoy the course or look at it from a positive light. In second year, I find the courses DO tend to be a lot harder in terms of workload and speed. I got involved in some clubs on campus and also became part of UTSC's Field Hockey team. I was getting used to the university life from this point on. I got involved in the SCSU's Orientation and I've been a group leader up until 3rd year. Third year was actually the year I realized that my Psychology program had two streams, and needed to narrow down the courses I had been taking! It wasn't too much trouble because I had already taken courses in the stream that I wanted (Social stream). This was also the year I started making use of Degree Explorer more in order to sort myself out and make sure that I'm completing the right courses to complete my degree. I also started volunteering for more clubs and departments such as Department of Student Life, and Admissions and Student Recruitment. Fourth year is the year that I was able to obtain work-study positions and became well rounded with the various resources offered on campus. This is also the year that I found out about all the grad and employment fairs hosted by AA&CC. It's a good feeling that some professors will still remember your name and face (mainly the African Studies and Sociology department). Overall, the journey has been worthwhile; we live, learn and grow.