Molecular Biology - Immunology & Diseases: Student Testimonials

Anum Ahmed

Majors: Molecular Biology, Immunology and Disease and Psychology

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
I actually started off my first year aiming for the Human Biology Specialist. But after exploring first year life science courses, I wanted to study Psychology as well. I was also interested in pathobiology and disease transmissions but there was no direct major/specialist for it at that time. By my second year, the Molecular Biology, Immunology, Disease was formed and I immediately picked it along with Psychology. I have to admit that having majors instead of specialist has its perks and flexibilities. I got to explore and learn more of what I like, instead of focusing on just one: which was both the fields of Immunology and Psychology. After I graduate, I have a diverse range of courses in my transcript which allows me to go in a different direction if I want (career-wise).
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
Molecular Biology and Immunology major is not very different from the Human Biology major except for a couple of courses based on immunology. I really got to learn a lot about the immune system, pathobiology, human anatomy, body functions. The holistic concept of the human body is coupled with learning about the smallest parts that make it, which is cell systems and microbiology. The courses required do not delve deep into plant systems. The Psychology major was definitely an interesting experience. UTSC is definitely proud of its Psychology program because of the most wide range of interesting courses, professors and even research opportunities. Within a Psychology specialist/major one can pick stream of studying human behavior, culture and social environment or studying human brain, mental disabilities and mental health. Beyond these two specialties there are even more courses in Psychology one can explore.
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
1) Keep in mind of Carpe Diem- Seize opportunities that come your way. Apply for international volunteer positions, explore clubs, and attend recreational outdoor trips. University will be 4 of the most memorable years of your life and you cannot relive it again.
2) Networking is KEY. Network. Network. Network. Attend department mix and mingles. Talk to your professors and TAs. Get to know them. This is one tip I really wish I was told in first year. Having connections really helps you get jobs and volunteer positions throughout your years on campus.
3) Focus, Organize, Plan- Focus on the certain jobs or volunteer positions you want, and tailor your resume to get those positions. Organize what courses you will take each year. Plan your time to juggle your social life, work schedule, lectures, study time, and leisure time appropriately.
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
There are many ways I can go with my degree. Medical school and pharmacy are always obvious options for life science students. But with Psychology I could do a Masters in Counseling, Clinical Psychology, Teaching, etc. This could lead to careers in counseling, teaching or a further PhD to become a professor. I could even head into Masters of Biology, Immunology, Molecular Biology etc. and head into research, or a further PhD to become a professor. There are also post-graduate diploma programs in colleges that vary from 1-3 years that train you into specific careers like Research Assistant, Lab Technician, etc. There are programs that come up every year, like Masters in Science Management or Translational Sciences at UofT. My point is that medical school and pharmacy are not the only ways to go, there is a lot more to the field of life sciences. My current plan is to take a year off, get more work experience and head to grad school in the field of Psychology.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
First year- Getting to know the whole concept of "university life". Understanding how course enrolment works, resources on campus and the difficulty level of courses. I really took my time to get to know UTSC so I could exploit all resources to my advantage. You have to do some basic life science courses like biology, chemistry, psychology, statistics/math, physics etc. which will be very similar to high school concepts. Second Year- Slightly higher B level courses specific to the major/specialist. For Immunology, concepts of human physiology, human anatomy, cell systems and many lab courses. For Psychology, more specific courses in human behavior, social theory, prejudice and stereotypes, etc. Third year- Higher level of C courses along with B level courses. But there is more flexibility in choosing what C levels you want to choose. More lab opportunities available due to experience. Fourth year- By now, most requirements for the program will be complete, so taking electives to complete degree requirements as well as D level courses that involve presentations, debates, more participation, research papers as well as research-thesis courses.

Caroline Watling

Majors: Molecular Biology, Immunology, and Disease and Theatre and Performance Studies

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
I've always loved theatre, but knew I wanted to pursue a BSc. I originally applied for biochemistry, however after second year I realized that wasn't the direction where I wanted to focus. In my third year I took the b levels and requirements for both Human Biology and my current program. I love that I'm able to have such different majors.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
Theatre studies at UTSC is a very demanding but fulfilling program, which explores performance, history, theatre in Canada, possibly technical theatre. I've developed not only as an actor, but have also learned how to hang a light, and historical events that shaped gender roles in contemporary society. Theatre is wonderful because of the small class sizes and ability to explore yourself. Biology offers many hands on learning experiences through labs. The first two years offer education in all areas of biology; however, as you move into upper year courses there is an ability to specialize.
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
1. Look at upper year courses that your program offers or requires. Upper year courses ought to appeal to you. They become more demanding, so it is important that you enjoy the material.
2. Hard work is more important than anything. You've made it this far; you've proven your intelligence; it's time for your work ethic to shine.
What will you do with your degree after graduation?
I'm interested in becoming a naturopath, blending my interests in biology, and arts.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
I found first year was an adjustment to the system of university. Second year I struggled academically because I was not in the right courses. It wasn't until I was in third year and found courses that really interested me. I'm now into my fourth year, I'm enjoying all of my courses and have earned almost straight A's in the past year.