English: Student Testimonials

Thibika Sutharsan

Specialist: English
Minor: English Literature

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

I remember sitting in my grade 10 English class, amongst a swarm of students who could not have cared less about Shelley's "Frankenstein"; students who would look up the most basic summaries of books we would read in class just to “get them over with”. I couldn’t help but realize that I was the only one who wanted to know what Shelley may have been trying to do with her book. Coming from a traditional and rather strict South Asian household, I was supposed to either become an engineer or a doctor, and I may have ignored my own interests if my high school English teacher hadn’t shown me what great literature can do—what it can teach us. Once I got to university, the skills and techniques that my professors taught me only told me that my decision was right.

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

Being a part of this program has taught me how to be attentive to details. This program has not only provided me with the skills necessary to pick up on subtle details, but has also given me a space to practice these skills. For every essay I have written, I was forced to notice details that I may have overlooked. With the help of the professors at UTSC, I was able to better perfect these skills. Another amazing thing about this program is that class sizes decrease over the years, which make class discussions become more analytical—and in my opinion, more interesting. I remember a second year course that I took where the professor, although an amazing lecturer, seemed to only regurgitate everything that I happened to notice while I did the readings. Although you may find this to be reassuring (that you and the professor think alike) I found it quite—dare I say—boring. I hardly felt these kinds of courses (where the course seemed daunting because of the class size and not the actual course work) to motivate me to work harder. However, now that I’m in my final year, I feel that I have finally been rewarded with classes (and professors) that force me to talk about topics and issues I have never considered. Although the work for some of these courses may seem overwhelming and discouraging at times, it is well worth it! I guess now that I get to reflect on this program, I can safely say that although the work grows more difficult with each year, the skills you are taught and the discussions that arise in these English courses are very much worth it.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1. I think the first tip I can give anyone going to university (regardless of what program they are in) is: DO NOT GO ON RATE MY PROF! I understand that some of you may want to see if you’re going to be taking a ‘bird course’ (no such thing in university), but the ‘results’ of this website are not at all true. I have chosen courses specifically because other students rated the professor with high scores, only to be left with someone who wasn’t the greatest lecturer. I have also taken courses where I fell in love with both the course and the professor, only to later find out that they were given a very low rating. So, if you get anything out of my testimonial, please do not alter your course selection based solely on this website.
2. You may have been told in high school that professors in university only see students as a number; some of you may have even been told a correction to this statement—that professors care. Now, I’m not here to tell you anything different; professors only want good things for their students, but the best way to get to know the course you are in, and the professor teaching it, is to actually talk to them. I was definitely not one of those students who would drop by and start a conversation with one of my professors; to be honest; they seemed to be quite intimidating. It has unfortunately taken me until my final year to realize the absolute importance of talking with my professors (outside of class). I took this one course where the professor was so intimidating that I unconsciously avoided eye contact with them for the first few weeks; they were the kind of person who seemed to know everything about everything. Well, as luck would have it, I was put in a situation where I was forced to speak with them about a challenging assignment. Not only did this spark more interest in the course, but it made me more comfortable in the class.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
Many people assume that once you decide to go into English, you want to become a teacher. Although this may be true for some people, I have never had any interest in teaching. After graduating with an English degree, you actually have more options than you may think. In fact, I have always been interested in publishing, but after doing extra research I found that I have many more options than going into something directly related to English or literature.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year focuses more on your grasp of texts and their general relevance to our society. In fact, I remember a professor advising me that it was more important for me to understand what each book actually talks about, and what they do. Second year is focused more on your analytical skills. These courses force you to close read specific passages in texts and require you to ask questions like ‘so what?’. Third year courses are more conceptual; instead of just close reading a passage to find out its significance, you are required to comment on their theoretical significance. Fourth year is essentially a build-up of third year. As you analyze passages and consider their theoretical importance, you must also relate it back to this 21st century. By the time you are in your final year, you are going to find yourself juggling a lot of very important commitments. You’ve worked hard for so long, just try to enjoy your last year, and appreciate everything your academic life has taught you.
 

Gabby Bablanian

Specialist: English

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
My love of writing and reading.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
You will never stop writing. Every English literature class has anywhere from 2-3 essays per semester, so be prepared to write, write, write. It's a lot of work, and sometimes you'll pull an all nighter writing a piece of garbage, but sometimes you'll write something that you'll love, or something that will be in a conference or student publication. You'll meet like-minded classmates who love or hate the same books you do. You'll meet amazing professors that range from the professionally studious to the manically genius.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)? 
 
1. PAY ATTENTION TO COURSE AND PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. Did you know in order to graduate you have to have one .5 credit in each type of study? That means, for example, if you're an English major GET YOUR MATH CREDIT OUT OF THE WAY. In fact, get all of your breadth requirements out of the way your first year. Don't wait till your fourth year to do your most hated subject that you can't remember from high school.

2. GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS. I haven't been to any other post-secondary school, but many of the professors here at UTSC are awesome. They genuinely want to help you, so if you don't understand a concept in class meet them in their office hours. Having a prof know your face is a good thing for grades. Just make sure to schedule an appointment; don't drop in uninvited.

3. GROUP WORK W/ GOOGLE. If you have Google Drive, you and your classmates can work on an online document/presentation/spreadsheet at the SAME time. That means you can do group projects from the comfort of your own home, or edit each other's notes, or even have everyone write notes on one document in lecture so you'll have super detailed notes to share.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
I plan to take UBC's online masters program for video game writing.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year I took a program I ended up hating. It's okay to change your program, regardless of what your parents might say. Do what YOU love, or you'll just end up hating university and/or life in general. Second year I began the program I actually wanted to take, and through taking that program I made friends and actually wanted to go to classes to learn more. Third year, I began to publish my essays in undergrad conferences and to student publications. Even if you think your paper isn't that good, submit it anyway. You'll be surprised. If you're still not sure, ask your professor for their opinion. Fourth year, I took three D-Level courses in one semester. Don't do that unless you absolutely have to, no matter how much you love your program.

Ayesha Haq

Major: English
Minors: Philosophy and Theater & Performance Studies

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

Ever since I started high school, I had the drive and passion to become a lawyer. My research into the field started when I was in 9th grade and all the academic decisions that I made since then were based on achieving that end goal. Upon extensive research, I found out that Law School required no preliminary course work or program obligations which basically meant that I could have a Bachelor’s Degree in anything that I desired. Additionally, I knew that I had to graduate with the best grades to get into a good Law School. Putting two and two together, my very first instinct was to do something that a) I was exceptionally good at and b) I absolutely enjoyed doing. My love for the Arts is what led me to Major in English, with minors in Philosophy and Theatre and Performance Studies. All three of these programs are different in their own way and I have strong reasons for studying each one. I have always been an avid writer and my love for reading and writing combined is what pushed me to major in English. From English Classics to Contemporary Canadian Writing, every novel, poem or short story that I read struck a chord within me. My love for literature gave me the utmost pleasure in analyzing and studying texts that I read for leisure. Argumentation and debating has been something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Writing argumentative essays, being a part of the Debate Club in high school and representing the high school at different Model United Nations conferences was a significant part of my co-curricular record. I wanted to take those argumentative skills and put them to work in my undergraduate degree. Hence, I decided to minor in Philosophy. This enabled me to work my brain in ways that I never thought I had the ability to do and that feeling was one that I can’t even begin to describe in plain words. Lastly, Theater and Performance Studies was purely out my sheer love for the performing arts. Through theater, I was able to unleash the playful side of me and play characters that were so unlike me. I got to channel the inner performer that I always dreamed of being and this minor was one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

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

So as mentioned in the previous question, I was a part of multiple programs and each one was a different experience all together. Being a part of the English Department taught me how to analyze texts through the lens of various literary theories. This sharpened my analytical skills as well as reading skills which were highly important for my legal studies. Being a part of the Philosophy discipline, honed my argumentative skills and broadened my perspective on various metaphysical and humanitarian issues. The Department of Theater and Performance Studies showed me the brilliance of art to educate and create awareness about various issues. I learned a great deal about different performance theories and playwrights who dedicated their lives to using performance art to make a change in the society and attempted to show a changed world through art. The highlights of each of these disciplines are immeasurable because each department had their own benefits both inside and outside the classroom. The English Department gave students the opportunity to submit their research papers at conventions so as to be recognized in the English academic community. I was grateful to be a member of the Sigma Tau Delta North American English Honor Society for which UTSC was the only Canadian Chapter. The English Department also funded my trip for me to present my research at the Annual English Convention in Minneapolis. The English Department also has many different work-study opportunities. I was fortunate enough to work under Prof. Maria Assif as the Assistant Events Coordinator and helped manage all of the various English events carried out throughout the semester. And contrary to popular belief, English Literature is a subject with tons of research opportunities. Many Professors are looking for students to help them with their research and I would definitely recommend reaching out to them if you’re interested. The Philosophy Department is relatively smaller which makes networking so much easier. The Philosophy Portables are where all the Faculty and Staff offices are located. There are comfy sofas there where many students would chat about philosophical issues and indulge in on going debates. Most of the Philosophy Professors also had informal office hours at Rex’s Den where you could come and talk about absolutely anything. Having this informal interaction with the Professors made the learning process less tedious and more enjoyable. There is also an Annual Philosophy Symposium run by Professor Wilson which would be an awesome opportunity to participate in. The Theater and Performance Studies department required students to be a part of the performing arts community in Toronto. As part of our course work, we were required to watch a theatrical performance every semester which I highly enjoyed. Furthermore, the variety of courses enable you to play with artistic styles that you’re interested in. The performance courses were my favorite but the program offers technical courses that dealt with backstage work like sound, light, stage design etc. The program also required that students engaged in technical work for various performances at UTSC. So essentially every theater student is well-equipped with knowledge of how a performance is put together.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1) Know Your Professors: This is one piece of advice that I can’t stress the importance of enough. Your Professors are there to help you. As daunting as university is, having a connection with your Professors opens up avenues to success. Go to their office hours if you have questions. Go to their office hours even if you don’t have a question. Talk to them about their research or the specific subject areas that they specialize in. Go to the events that their speaking at to learn more about the discipline you’re a part of. Knowing your Professors gives you the advantage of having a connection at the University and they could later recommend you to pursue further studies or to secure that job that you always dreamed of. If they don’t know you, they won’t know you as a person and will not be able to holistically comment on your strengths and achievements.

2) Get Involved. UTSC has so many opportunities on campus but most people don’t avail them because they are afraid to put their foot out the door. Apart from being a part of your academic discipline, be a part of organizations that you are passionate about. For example, I was very much interested in advocating for Muslims and Pakistanis on campus which is why I was a part of both those student organizations. I also extending my love for Model United Nations and was selected to be a part of the Tri-Campus UofT Delegation that participated in the Harvard World Model United Nations is Rome, Italy. These experiences help build your resume, strengthen your skills and give you the opportunity to meet new people on campus. And most of all, the worthwhile memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.

3) Have Fun. Undergrad is only stressful if you make it stressful. There is tons of academic help available to you so instead of worrying make the best of your time. If you’re living on residence, develop relationships with your housemates and hall mates. If you’re living off campus, then develop meaningful relationships with people in your program or with people in different student organizations. Also, UTSC’s location gives you direct access to the city and downtown Toronto is a great place to explore. Apart from that Scarborough itself is such a beautiful natural and scenic area. UTSC is home to our very own valley where you can sit by the river and throw pebbles as a de-stressor or even make a trek to Scarborough Bluffs. These little moments are going to be highly important in making your undergraduate studies worthwhile because undergrad is not limited to studying inside the classroom.

What will you do with your degree after graduation?

Currently, I am pursuing a Juris Doctor at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law. Everything that I did in undergrad led me to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney and I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I was given at UTSC. There is a huge misconception that Arts is the worst degree to secure employment in the professional world. There is so much you can do with an Arts degree. English Literature opens up avenues for editorial positions and journalistic opportunities. Philosophy helps you to go into public policy and governmental positions. Theater and Performance Studies opens the world of theater from acting, film making, play writing, directing, film critiquing and so much more. Your degree is limited when you limit it, so don’t let anyone tell you that your degree is a waste of time because every discipline will take you places you never even imagined going. 

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

My first year, was devoted to understanding how I was to develop my studying habits. In English, you are given tons of readings and if you are taking ENGB03 with Prof. Sonja Nikkila then you will be asked to read Middlemarch which is extremely lengthy and dense. The undergrad writing style is also difficult to adjust to, so my first year was spent mostly at the Writing Center, despite my extensive experience in writing. One thing you have to be mindful of is that you need to open your mind to learning new things and un-learn some things from high school. The transition from high school to undergrad is difficult but you have to set your pride aside and ask for help. The more you delay in seeking for help, the more difficult it will be to secure the grades you want. Also, be careful when picking courses in your first year. I knew I wanted to major in English and so went directly towards the required courses. While it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do, try to take courses that won’t set you behind when you do realize what it is that you want to do. In second year, the course load tends to get more manageable and you are given more choice in terms of the courses that you can take. Unlike first year, in second year you know how to tackle the dense reading and writing assignments and time management becomes less of a struggle. If you tend to be more of an “exam taker”, then try to take courses where the syllabus lists a midterm and final and less of the writing assignments. I loved writing which is why the courses that I took rarely had mid-term or final exams. By this time you will know your strengths and weaknesses and will be able to play them to your advantage. In third year, you will see a huge shift from B-level to C and D level courses. The C and D-level courses in English and Philosophy tend to prepare you for grad school because they are set up as seminar courses. The discussion in these classes will be more intellectually stimulating requiring you to challenge your brain in and outside of class. I would say that your grades are the most important in second and third year so choose your courses wisely. If you are considering further studies, your fourth year will be the most challenging. I was victim to what they like to call “senioritis” where a senior student starts to take academics less seriously. I was extremely lucky that it did not affect my grades in any way but I would still not encourage any student to fall into that pit. Fourth year is also where you will be working on your grad school applications. Plan ahead of time if you plan on taking the LSAT, GMAT, GRE or any other standardized test. Looking back, my fourth year was the most stressful as I was juggling 5 courses, doing two part time jobs, studying for the LSAT as well as working on my law school applications. While I thought that I would be able to manage it with little or no stress, it did take a bit of a toll on my health and wellness. So be wary of the fact that fourth year will not be as exciting as you hope for it to be. I was also extremely sad about the idea of having to leave UTSC and the uncertainty behind where I will end up was worrying at times. But just know that by the end of it all, it will be worth it and the next thing to come will be bigger and better for your future. 

Christina Ashley Arayata

Double Major: English and Political Science

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

Ever since I started high school, I had the drive and passion to become a lawyer. My research into the field started when I was in 9th grade and all the academic decisions that I made since then were based on achieving that end goal. Upon extensive research, I found out that Law School required no preliminary course work or program obligations which basically meant that I could have a Bachelor’s Degree in anything that I desired. Additionally, I knew that I had to graduate with the best grades to get into a good Law School. Putting two and two together, my very first instinct was to do something that a) I was exceptionally good at and b) I absolutely enjoyed doing. My love for the Arts is what led me to Major in English, with minors in Philosophy and Theatre and Performance Studies. All three of these programs are different in their own way and I have strong reasons for studying each one. I have always been an avid writer and my love for reading and writing combined is what pushed me to major in English. From English Classics to Contemporary Canadian Writing, every novel, poem or short story that I read struck a chord within me. My love for literature gave me the utmost pleasure in analyzing and studying texts that I read for leisure. Argumentation and debating has been something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Writing argumentative essays, being a part of the Debate Club in high school and representing the high school at different Model United Nations conferences was a significant part of my co-curricular record. I wanted to take those argumentative skills and put them to work in my undergraduate degree. Hence, I decided to minor in Philosophy. This enabled me to work my brain in ways that I never thought I had the ability to do and that feeling was one that I can’t even begin to describe in plain words. Lastly, Theater and Performance Studies was purely out my sheer love for the performing arts. Through theater, I was able to unleash the playful side of me and play characters that were so unlike me. I got to channel the inner performer that I always dreamed of being and this minor was one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

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

So as mentioned in the previous question, I was a part of multiple programs and each one was a different experience all together. Being a part of the English Department taught me how to analyze texts through the lens of various literary theories. This sharpened my analytical skills as well as reading skills which were highly important for my legal studies. Being a part of the Philosophy discipline, honed my argumentative skills and broadened my perspective on various metaphysical and humanitarian issues. The Department of Theater and Performance Studies showed me the brilliance of art to educate and create awareness about various issues. I learned a great deal about different performance theories and playwrights who dedicated their lives to using performance art to make a change in the society and attempted to show a changed world through art. The highlights of each of these disciplines are immeasurable because each department had their own benefits both inside and outside the classroom. The English Department gave students the opportunity to submit their research papers at conventions so as to be recognized in the English academic community. I was grateful to be a member of the Sigma Tau Delta North American English Honor Society for which UTSC was the only Canadian Chapter. The English Department also funded my trip for me to present my research at the Annual English Convention in Minneapolis. The English Department also has many different work-study opportunities. I was fortunate enough to work under Prof. Maria Assif as the Assistant Events Coordinator and helped manage all of the various English events carried out throughout the semester. And contrary to popular belief, English Literature is a subject with tons of research opportunities. Many Professors are looking for students to help them with their research and I would definitely recommend reaching out to them if you’re interested. The Philosophy Department is relatively smaller which makes networking so much easier. The Philosophy Portables are where all the Faculty and Staff offices are located. There are comfy sofas there where many students would chat about philosophical issues and indulge in on going debates. Most of the Philosophy Professors also had informal office hours at Rex’s Den where you could come and talk about absolutely anything. Having this informal interaction with the Professors made the learning process less tedious and more enjoyable. There is also an Annual Philosophy Symposium run by Professor Wilson which would be an awesome opportunity to participate in. The Theater and Performance Studies department required students to be a part of the performing arts community in Toronto. As part of our course work, we were required to watch a theatrical performance every semester which I highly enjoyed. Furthermore, the variety of courses enable you to play with artistic styles that you’re interested in. The performance courses were my favorite but the program offers technical courses that dealt with backstage work like sound, light, stage design etc. The program also required that students engaged in technical work for various performances at UTSC. So essentially every theater student is well-equipped with knowledge of how a performance is put together.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1) Know Your Professors: This is one piece of advice that I can’t stress the importance of enough. Your Professors are there to help you. As daunting as university is, having a connection with your Professors opens up avenues to success. Go to their office hours if you have questions. Go to their office hours even if you don’t have a question. Talk to them about their research or the specific subject areas that they specialize in. Go to the events that their speaking at to learn more about the discipline you’re a part of. Knowing your Professors gives you the advantage of having a connection at the University and they could later recommend you to pursue further studies or to secure that job that you always dreamed of. If they don’t know you, they won’t know you as a person and will not be able to holistically comment on your strengths and achievements.

2) Get Involved. UTSC has so many opportunities on campus but most people don’t avail them because they are afraid to put their foot out the door. Apart from being a part of your academic discipline, be a part of organizations that you are passionate about. For example, I was very much interested in advocating for Muslims and Pakistanis on campus which is why I was a part of both those student organizations. I also extending my love for Model United Nations and was selected to be a part of the Tri-Campus UofT Delegation that participated in the Harvard World Model United Nations is Rome, Italy. These experiences help build your resume, strengthen your skills and give you the opportunity to meet new people on campus. And most of all, the worthwhile memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.

3) Have Fun. Undergrad is only stressful if you make it stressful. There is tons of academic help available to you so instead of worrying make the best of your time. If you’re living on residence, develop relationships with your housemates and hall mates. If you’re living off campus, then develop meaningful relationships with people in your program or with people in different student organizations. Also, UTSC’s location gives you direct access to the city and downtown Toronto is a great place to explore. Apart from that Scarborough itself is such a beautiful natural and scenic area. UTSC is home to our very own valley where you can sit by the river and throw pebbles as a de-stressor or even make a trek to Scarborough Bluffs. These little moments are going to be highly important in making your undergraduate studies worthwhile because undergrad is not limited to studying inside the classroom.

What will you do with your degree after graduation?

Currently, I am pursuing a Juris Doctor at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law. Everything that I did in undergrad led me to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney and I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I was given at UTSC. There is a huge misconception that Arts is the worst degree to secure employment in the professional world. There is so much you can do with an Arts degree. English Literature opens up avenues for editorial positions and journalistic opportunities. Philosophy helps you to go into public policy and governmental positions. Theater and Performance Studies opens the world of theater from acting, film making, play writing, directing, film critiquing and so much more. Your degree is limited when you limit it, so don’t let anyone tell you that your degree is a waste of time because every discipline will take you places you never even imagined going. 

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

My first year, was devoted to understanding how I was to develop my studying habits. In English, you are given tons of readings and if you are taking ENGB03 with Prof. Sonja Nikkila then you will be asked to read Middlemarch which is extremely lengthy and dense. The undergrad writing style is also difficult to adjust to, so my first year was spent mostly at the Writing Center, despite my extensive experience in writing. One thing you have to be mindful of is that you need to open your mind to learning new things and un-learn some things from high school. The transition from high school to undergrad is difficult but you have to set your pride aside and ask for help. The more you delay in seeking for help, the more difficult it will be to secure the grades you want. Also, be careful when picking courses in your first year. I knew I wanted to major in English and so went directly towards the required courses. While it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do, try to take courses that won’t set you behind when you do realize what it is that you want to do. In second year, the course load tends to get more manageable and you are given more choice in terms of the courses that you can take. Unlike first year, in second year you know how to tackle the dense reading and writing assignments and time management becomes less of a struggle. If you tend to be more of an “exam taker”, then try to take courses where the syllabus lists a midterm and final and less of the writing assignments. I loved writing which is why the courses that I took rarely had mid-term or final exams. By this time you will know your strengths and weaknesses and will be able to play them to your advantage. In third year, you will see a huge shift from B-level to C and D level courses. The C and D-level courses in English and Philosophy tend to prepare you for grad school because they are set up as seminar courses. The discussion in these classes will be more intellectually stimulating requiring you to challenge your brain in and outside of class. I would say that your grades are the most important in second and third year so choose your courses wisely. If you are considering further studies, your fourth year will be the most challenging. I was victim to what they like to call “senioritis” where a senior student starts to take academics less seriously. I was extremely lucky that it did not affect my grades in any way but I would still not encourage any student to fall into that pit. Fourth year is also where you will be working on your grad school applications. Plan ahead of time if you plan on taking the LSAT, GMAT, GRE or any other standardized test. Looking back, my fourth year was the most stressful as I was juggling 5 courses, doing two part time jobs, studying for the LSAT as well as working on my law school applications. While I thought that I would be able to manage it with little or no stress, it did take a bit of a toll on my health and wellness. So be wary of the fact that fourth year will not be as exciting as you hope for it to be. I was also extremely sad about the idea of having to leave UTSC and the uncertainty behind where I will end up was worrying at times. But just know that by the end of it all, it will be worth it and the next thing to come will be bigger and better for your future.

Katherine Mascarin

Majors: English and Women's and Gender Studies

 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
                                                        
The factors that contributed to me choosing the program of English are that I have always thoroughly enjoyed reading books from the time I was a little kid to now, as the stories have always interested me greatly. This is a skill that I think would be important for me to have an interest in, as an English student because the amount of books that are required to read in each course can be vast. Also, I have always had the ability to write quickly and effortlessly, which would be beneficial for essay writing and other assignments within the field of English. Some of the factors that contributed to me choosing the program of Women and Gender Studies are that throughout my years of schooling, issues pertaining to these studies including equality for women and other minority groups interested me greatly and were something that I chose to focus on when I was allowed to. Furthermore, I chose to take this program because I had never been allowed to take a program or courses specifically in the past that had to do with Women and Gender Studies.

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

Being an English student has taught me to be able to read vast amounts quickly whether it be in the form of books, short stories or any other mediums and be able to pick out what is important and what information I should take from these mediums. Also, being an English student has taught me to write strong, argumentative essays that analyze certain passages and chapters from books in a way that does not simply address the subject material on the surface, but strives to dig deeper. The department of English has many professors that excel in delivering their subject matter and push you to go beyond what is obvious in what you are studying. These professors have no problem taking extra time to help you with anything you need whether it be providing extra help with subject work or talking to you about potential jobs within the field of English. On the other hand, being a Women and Gender Studies student has taught me to value the opinions of others and understand that everyone's story is individual to them and should not be taken as something that is universal to everyone of their race, gender, ethnicity or any other factor that pertains to them. Also, being a Women and Gender Studies student has taught me to be very open in my opinions and to learn to disagree with inequalities that occur and are normalized by the general population. The department of Women and Gender Studies has many professors that are passionate about their fields of study. Also, Women and Gender Studies is a program that overlaps and intersects with many other areas of study and courses connected with this program can be found within the field of English, history, psychology, sociology and anthropology just to name a few. Furthermore, the professors in this department are not afraid to go above and beyond in helping their students and even run events that help to deal with the issues studied in these courses and bring them to the forefront, such as the desire to change the University of Toronto Scarborough's documentation on how they deal with sexual assault and harassment.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
Do not be afraid to speak up in class and share your opinions with others, even though you may initially be concerned that what your saying is wrong or may not be what others consider to be right because at least then you will be engaging in your work. Get to know other people, whether it be in your program or outside your program. This will give you an opportunity to have people to bounce ideas off of and talk about your programs subject matter with, as well as people who you will be able to talk to for advice when you need it and who know what you are going through as students. Do not be afraid to get to know your professors by speaking up in class, attending their office hours at least once in the semester or simply emailing them. This will allow you to be more engaged in class and later on in university, if you need references, it will be a lot easier for you to find professors who already knows you and will perhaps be willing to give you references.

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

After graduation I plan to use my degree by applying to post-grad programs at college, so that I can further develop my skills and get more practical work experience before proceeding to enter into the workforce. I have applied to programs in professional writing, human resource management, public relations and technical writing. These respective programs, I believe, will be able to utilize the various skills that I have picked up while attaining my Bachelor’s degree and are the best options, given the work that I have previously done. I will have to know how to write well while sometimes discussing sensitive issues and communicate with others in order to understand what they want and how to address the potential problems they may have.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
Within my first year my two respective programs of English and Women's and Gender Studies introduce you to the basics of each of their respective fields. First year English courses are not necessary courses required to finish your degree and are huge classes where you deal with subject matter in a way that does not analyze them to the extent that upper year classes do. Also, these classes place vast amounts of your grade on midterms and finals, something that is not realistic to the other years of English that follow. First year Women and Gender Studies courses teach you about the theories of feminism and provide you with a general introduction to Women's and Gender Studies and these courses ask you to develop ideas and create essays, based on these ideas. Second year English courses start to have classes that are smaller and actually teach you to analyze texts to a higher extent, that is not just on the surface through a skill called close reading where you can potentially write an essay that analyzes only one line of text or one distinct section of a book. Also, second year English has five mandatory courses that are required to complete your degree in the form of Literature, Poetry, Narrative and Charting Literary History II and II, which looks at crucial early works in literature. Other courses in second year English are up to you to pick and choose, based on degree requirements. Second year Women's and Gender Studies courses allow you to branch off from courses that are strictly under the field of Women and Gender Studies and take classes in other departments, while still fulfilling your degree requirements. Second year Women's and Gender Studies only has one mandatory course entitled Intersections of Inequality where you learn about people's individual stories and how they are not universal to everyone. Third year English allows you to pick courses from a vast majority of courses, based on your interests. Some courses that I took included Victorian literature, Gothic literature and Studies in Shakespeare. Third year Women's and Gender Studies like that of second year allows you to branch off from the courses strictly under Women's and Gender Studies, as there are no actual mandatory courses in this year, provided you still take courses that count towards your major. Fourth year English courses are seminar courses that do not often contain exams, look at creating longer essays and giving presentations to the class, while providing you with options of which classes you take. Fourth year Women's and Gender Studies courses are also seminar courses where you develop longer pieces of writing, look more specifically at the subject matter and allow you to present complex topics to a small group of people. This year also allows you to pick which course you will take, based on what is offered. Although this course, unlike that of second and third year, must be within the Women's and Gender Studies department.

Grayson Chong

Major: English
Minors: Creative Writing and French

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
I chose to pursue a major in English because I have loved literature since I can remember. I simply adore it more than anything else in the world. But more than reading literature and thinking about it, is when I am given the chance to write because it allows my creativity and imagination to run boundless. Therefore, pursing a Creative Writing minor seemed like a natural route. My minor in French allows me to be more well-rounded as a student and individual. As a dancer, I’ve always thought of language as another form of music and rhythm. Deciding to complete a degree with a major and two minors allows you to expand and explore all the subjects and areas of study that intrigue you.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Being a part of the English program has equipped me the ability to think critically and reflect on the wider implications of texts by connecting these narratives to real-life situations in our everyday world. The English department offers an expansive range of courses that focus on different time periods, from the early modern period to Postmodernism and everything in between. Much of the program involves analyzing text and thinking about how certain issues are still present in our world. The department offers both English literature as well as contemporary literature from the Caribbean and South Asia, which I personally think is wonderful. Creative Writing courses are also offered. If you decide to simply go into an English program, the Creative Writing courses will count towards your program as well. The courses offered by the department encourage both critical thinking with analysis of English texts and creative thinking with Creative Writing courses. Creative Writing minor classes are significantly smaller from the start. You need to submit a portfolio before you are officially enrolled in the course. These are extremely collaborative and many of them (if not all) involve critiques, where you submit a piece of writing to the class so that they can talk about it the following week. These workshops are there to help improve your writing, so don’t be afraid of them. The French department offers a wide range of courses from French grammar to French literature. These aid the expansion of the acquisition of the language and inform students about French culture and society as well.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
                              
1) Go to your professor and TA’s office hours. Those are invaluable opportunities for you to ask questions whenever you need help with course material and assignments. It’s a good way to get to know them and for them to get to know you. Don’t be intimidated, they are there to help you.
 
2) Find what interests you and what you’re passionate about. As cliché as it sounds, the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” is true. The things I was passionate about (literature and writing) propelled me to pursue what I’m pursuing. I’m more excited to start assignments earlier and do my best than if I was in a program I didn’t enjoy. The material seems more interesting and I feel like I am getting more out of my program because I’m immersed in something I love.
 
3) Learn time management skills. Life is busy with school, work, volunteering, and a social life. Assignments pile up quick. Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan so that you won’t feel overwhelmed when you need to finish the assignment the night before. Planning ahead will minimize potential stress. I find having an agenda/planner helpful so that I can plan what I need to do in advance. It also ensures that I won’t forget about any upcoming assignments.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
There are a few things I’m still deciding on before I graduate. No matter what happens, I want English literature to be the centre of my career. I can’t see myself in anything other than that. In simple terms, I hope my career will allow me to teach English and write on the side. Right now, the plan is to apply to OISE to pursue a Masters of Education. I have thought about pursing an MFA in Creative Writing, as well. We will see where the universe takes me.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
I’m only in second year at the moment, so I may be unable to elaborate as much as I’d like. When I was in first year, I was initially pursuing a double major in English and French so that I could declare those two subjects as my teachables (areas of specialty) when I apply to OISE in the future. First year courses focused on exposing student to various periods in literature from medieval literature to Romanticism. Texts included a wide range of narratives and poetry. French only required that I take grammar courses before I could take upper year courses. Those were good reviews of all the basic grammar skills you’ve been learning since you were in Grade 12. I switched my program from a double major to a major in English with a double minor in French and Creative Writing in second year (which is the year I am in now). I made this decision because I wanted to take full advantage of the Creative Writing minor that UTSC has to offer. In second year, students are encouraged to focus on literary periods in the English canon and genres in more detail. There is a wide range to choose from, such as Shakespeare, Classical Myth and Literature, and Life Writing among others. Lecture sizes become significantly smaller as you progress towards graduation. The same goes for French courses. After taking grammar courses in first year, students are expected to still take grammar. However, they are also able to take courses that focus on French literature, society, and culture. In general, the options regarding the different courses available to students grows, but become more specialized according to your interests.