Chemistry: Student Testimonials

Taylor Cassidy Paulite

Major: Chemistry
Minors: Psychology and Applied Statistics

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

A whole bunch of factors in my academic and social career contributed to me choosing this specific program. As a high school student, I always felt like I've succeeded in science. Thus, pursuing anything “Chemistry” felt just perfect to me. So when I started my first year at the university, I intended on double majoring in Biochemistry and Human Biology with the intent on being a dermatologist. As the first year of university started, I joined clubs and took psychology as my breathe requirement. After many months, I did not enjoy Biology as much as I thought I would - with the skipping of classes and dreading reading the textbook, I looked up the course requirements for switching into just a Chemistry program and it felt perfect. So after a year in Biology, I decided to quit Biochemistry and to switch to just Chemistry. Alongside that termination in first year, I found out that I enjoyed Psychology as well. Psychology gave me tools to answer modern day psychology questions such as "how does your childhood affect your personality" or "how does financial stability affect someone's perspective on life and achievement". Through the journey of learning these tools, I have felt like pursuing a minor in this field is worthwhile. After my second year in university, I left the full-time student life to be a full-time worker as part of my co-op program. Through the year off I have learned a lot about myself, such as my great independent, leadership and creative skills and about workplaces. What I learned about modern workplaces is that one key is extremely crucial, knowing how to work with data. After learning basic statistical analyses in my STAB22 requirement for Psychology, I decided to give a minor in Applied Statistics a try. And to this day, I have no regrets.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

This program combination is very challenging in a sense that no courses overlap, you learn many new things every day. Although challenging, it is rewarding. Depending on how you are as a student, you can either hate or love this program combination. In my case, I love it. I am used to hard work and changing environments, thus making this program very smooth and easy going for myself. Therefore, if you plan on taking this program combination, be prepared to learn new things every day and to learn a lot more about the world in comparison to taking just a specialist in one field.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

Tips and or advice that I can provide to students that are starting or considering this program is that being a well-rounded student is very critical in the workplace. Although the science field is very prestigious, it does not have many employment opportunities in comparison to business or computer science. It is great for research but not for industry based careers. Therefore, add in a practical minor, which is what I did, an Applied Statistics minor. Also, add in something you love, which for me was Psychology and Chemistry. Right now, I see limited jobs in my field but I know through my well-roundedness I believe I can create or find a job that mixes together all of my skills. Therefore, all in all, my advice is to make sure you choose a practical part of your degree, choose a part of your degree you are in love with and make sure you stay a well-rounded student with this program.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

 
What I plan on doing with my degree is to seek my options, since my program is in different fields, I plan on trying a job in Business, that combines both the insight of theories used in Psychology and practical skills used in Chemistry and Applied Statistics. Therefore, I plan on going straight to industry based work rather than research. I believe that I am better suited to learn more about the world through working with different companies and growing within those company walls.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
My academic journey has been quite a bumpy ride. My first year, I had a lot of confidence, thinking I can get a 4.0 GPA and join a lot of clubs. But through the hardship, I had to change my majors for my degree mentally, around 50 times. The sometimes tedious mandatory classes have taught me the critical skills that I needed, but initially dreaded, since I was given so much freedom as a university student. However, after a summer semester, work-study job, great extra-curricular activities and my love for powerlifting, my third year was the best year. I learned to manage all my classes in a timely manner as well learning to apply my knowledge from my classes to the outside context. It also taught me that GPA is very important but it should not run your life, therefore if you do make a mistake causing a small dip in your GPA, don't sweat it and learn from your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, therefore don't cry that you make one, you're human. After my second year, I went straight to a year long co-op job, which made me miss my academics. A full time job is a lot less challenging than university content and rather repetitive and relies more on efficiency than creativity. This allowed me to forget about my academics and focused more on interdependent skills. Through all this learning from the inside of the textbook and out, both the life of a full-time student and full-time co-op student has helped me with both the critical thinking skills at school and efficiency skills at work that will prepare me for the real world after graduation and the end goal to graduate.

Kejia (Vivian) Sun

Specialist: Chemistry

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
Interest and enthusiasm are both important factors. I like science very much. Everything around me is composed of chemical elements and I really want to know them more through my knowledge. That's very interesting. When we study amino acids and proteins (biology), we need to analyse molecular structures and relevant properties. When we explore the expanding universe (physics), we need to observe red-shifted spectra, detect neutrinos in the universe and do some thermal calculations. When we check bodies of patients (medical), some advanced techniques like NMR will be used. When we test water quality (environment science), different reactions should be studied. Therefore, as a set of many science courses, chemistry inspires my potential to a great extent.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
The chemistry specialist requires you to take almost every chemistry course in UTSC, so this program will allow you to have a good chance to study chemistry from biology content, physics calculation, practical lab, essay reading and research with professors in labs or even the nature instead of just studying theories in textbooks. The class sizes of C and D-level courses are not very large. Chemistry study is very independent, because most of time, you need to manage your schedule well by yourself in order to finish the lab effectively within limited time frames and write formal lab reports or present your result after full analysis. Chemistry is a good combination of arts and science. You will be required to imagine 3D structures of different molecules and analyse data like a scientist. Because this program will let you spend much time in the lab and researching, if you are enthusiastic about science, you are very welcome to join us!!
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1. You should be mentally and physically prepared to spend much time in independent research lab activity and report writing. As I mentioned before, chemistry is a combination of arts and science. It involves biology, physics, math and so on, and imagination is important. You should show your consideration for many aspects instead of focusing on the one you like.

2. Try to study basic knowledge like atoms and electrons through some books or YouTube before school so that you can check whether this kind of content is friendly for you :)

3. UTSC encourages students to take work-study program. If possible, you should try to apply for volunteer positions, take an active part in some club activities and mentor workshops (about science) to enrich your life.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
Before doing a master’s degree, I plan to find work to gain social experience and to study practical skills. As a chemistry student, lab work and research experience are a very important part, but not the only one part. Social life and discussion with other people are also necessary.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year: I Focused on my studies and tried to lay a solid academic foundation. As an international student, I usually joined in club events and in my free time did some political volunteering outside the campus in order to know about the Canadian culture. Second year: I studied and, at the same time, I worked as a network administrator in which I studied applications of different useful software like Photoshop and FinalCut.  I also helped the campus club to design posters and do preview session for new students. Third year: I continued to study, and was a lab assistant volunteer for my professor to test labs and edit lab manuals of A and B level chemistry courses. I also helped PhD candidates to do relevant synthesis and spectra analysis. Fourth year (now): I am studying and working as a research student in my professor researching lab.

Fat Malazogu

Majors: Biochemistry (Co-op) & Chemistry

 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

In my first year of university I became really interested in how the human body works at the molecular and biochemical level. I wanted to gain a greater understanding how we are affected by different compounds, microbiota and the natural environment that surrounds us. The availability of co-op for Biochemistry, which gives you the opportunity to gain work related/research experience, also attracted me to the program. In addition, you can stand out of the crowd by combining the Biochemistry program with a wide range of major or minor programs

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

There is quite a bit of variety with the Biochemisty program at UTSC. There are numerous courses that you can take that will familiarize you with the theory in biochemistry and its application. I especially enjoyed the rigorous lab courses where we applied our knowledge from lecture. My 1st and 2nd year consisted of basic life science courses where we covered general biology, chemistry, and calculus. However, after my 2nd year I was able to enroll in a lot of courses with interesting lab components. Some examples include Analytical Chemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory, and Microbiology.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1- Think about what type of profession you want to have when you graduate. There are numerous resources on the web, you can talk to a family member or acquaintance etc. to give you a better idea what it's like working in that field. Would Biochemistry be a good fit to help you get there?
 
2- Look at the "UTSC Calendar" for upper year courses you might be interested in. That may help you decide if this program is right for you.
 
3- Having a good Life/Work/School balance is really important. Don't pass up on opportunities, however don't take up more than you can handle.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

I enrolled in the Biochemistry major because I believe it provides a lot of flexibility of what you can do with it after graduation. I will possibly go into the medical field, pharmacy, or a graduate school program related to those fields.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

My 1st and 2nd years of study mostly consisted of general chemistry, biology, and math courses. In second year my friends prompted me to join the Biology Student Association (BioSA), there I became a 2nd year representative. Student organizations are a great way to develop your leadership and soft skills while getting the chance to give back to the community. Generally, in the second year and onwards I found there is a lot more freedom with respect to course selection. I enrolled in several chemistry and biology courses with lab components and a couple ecology and evolutionary biology courses. I also started to volunteer in an ecology lab (The Cadotte Lab) and I have been fortunate enough to facilitate ecology FSGs (Facilitated Study Group). Third year has also been very eventful for me. I had the privilege of utilizing the skills gained in my classes to attain a co-op placement in a laboratory, where I am now. I hope to bring back the knowledge/skills and apply it in my studies.