Public Law: Student Testimonials

Camille Galindez

Major: Political Science
Minors: Public Law and Women's & Gender Studies

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
When I first came to UTSC, I thought I was going to specialize in Political Science. I was interested in becoming an immigration lawyer and thought that this was the best way for me to build a strong foundation of skills and knowledge. This plan changed as UTSC taught me the strengths that came from bringing an inter-disciplinary approach to learning. When I took classes in women's and gender studies as an elective, I began seeing areas and themes that were discussed in my political science classes. This included themes such as equal rights, the realm of work, and migration. Seeing these intersections helped me see a new way I could bring together my learning experiences. As a political science student, I was getting an understanding of the technical aspects of policy and politics, while studying gender classes helped give me contextual framework. When the Political Science department introduced the Public Law stream and distributed the course offerings, I thought that these could help me towards my goal of becoming a lawyer by giving me a better understanding of the legal system.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Being a part of these programs really helped me develop my ability to be an independent learner, develop my understanding of the areas, and think critically about the world around me. While the assignments were research heavy, professors usually gave you topic suggestions that were broad enough for people to pick something they truly were interested in from the classes. Junior courses were broad enough for people to really explore the topics within political science, gender studies, and public law. It is this ability to explore areas I may have not been exposed to before that changed my interest in becoming a lawyer to choosing the master's program I'm currently enrolled in. I was interested in immigration because of my parent’s decision to move from their home to Canada, in search of better opportunities. I saw the importance of having work in the immigration process. However, the ability to dive deep into Canada's political and legal system helped me see work in a whole new way in Canada's context. The ability to really get into these topics helped me see all the new ways I could interact with the immigration process and other social issues through my new understanding of work.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
Talking to professors can be absolutely terrifying but it is such an integral part of the learning process. If office hours are too big of a step, I recommend getting in touch with the Departmental Student Association's to find out when they'll be hosting mix and mingle events with the professors. This is a good way to get to know your professors but also get to know professors who will be teaching courses or areas you're interested in. Go to the AA&CC and Writing Centre, I cannot stress this enough! They have program specific resources that can help you. Whether it is for research skills, study skills, or career development, they can help you in your realm of study. The Writing Centre is another great place. Find out if there is anyone there who specializes in the subject area you are writing for. As a graduate student, I still find myself using my school's writing centre. Go to all of the networking and extracurricular events. The Lunch and Learns and Mix and Mingles that I attended helped my understanding of all the ways the program branched out into the world. People provided invaluable advice for the working world. However, I think the best piece of advice that I got from these events was that it was okay to fail and that it was okay to not have an answer for everything.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
I've already graduated and my degree from UTSC has really helped me throughout my master's program in industrial relations. Those readings may seem heavy at times, but they have helped me a lot! I find myself referencing and revisiting them throughout my courses. My master's program really emphasizes the disciplinary approach and I'm able to use what I know and try to push myself to see subjects from different disciplinary lenses. In addition, what I learned through the public law program has been foundational for my understanding of the main issues of my program. Because my program goes very deeply into labour law, the things I have learned from public law courses have helped me really strengthen what I'm currently learning. However, one interesting piece that I got out of the political science program was the quantitative analysis credit that I needed. Being exposed to how statistics and social science intersected gave me the leg up I needed in my master's program.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
My undergraduate experience was a rollercoaster. I finished strong in my first year. Anxious about my undergraduate experience, I would frequently visit the AA&CC to talk about my study habits and how I could make sure I could stay on my path towards graduate school. However, my transition into second year was met with a couple of personal challenges that affected my studies. Finding support through student services was imperative for overcoming my personal challenges and succeed in my third year. Fortunately, through the support I received from student service departments, I was able to bounce back and become more involved with my academics. By third year, I was narrowing my academic interests down and by fourth year, I was taking a lighter course load focused specifically on areas I was interested in such as an independent research project. My experience between first to third years was imperative in accomplishing the independent research project because of its need for taking my learning towards its own direction.

 

Zabikhulla Yari

Specialist: Political Science
Minor: Public Law

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
Coming to UTSC, I knew I wanted to study Political Science. Because I was interested in history, politics, and law in high school, I knew that Political Science would be the right fit. One thing that I was surprised and delighted to see, is that students were required to take multiple programs. This would allow us to specialize in different areas. After exploring other options and taking courses in Public Law, I knew that this is something I wanted to minor in. Much of this interest stemmed from my appreciation of the laws and the court system we have in Canada. This encouraged me to take more public law courses, and eventually I decided to complete the minor.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

 
Public Law is a fantastic program. Not only do the courses rigorously train you academically, but they were also intellectually appealing. I have taken courses on the courts, constitution, employment law, human rights, and much more. Our instructors are also distinguished professionals who always go above and beyond in assisting their students. If you are planning to pursue a Law degree, this is the perfect program for you.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 

First and foremost, do your readings. You have probably heard this everywhere, but completing the assigned readings is crucial to understanding the lecture. Second, engage in class discussions! Not only will you get those tutorial participation marks, but being active in classrooms will help you understand the class content. Lastly, get involved with campus clubs! The Political Science Students' Association, The Debate Club, and Model UN are excellent choices. This is where you can apply your knowledge and meet your fellow peers.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 

I am planning to work for a year and then apply for graduate school. I am hoping to pursue a Master's degree in International Relations or Public Policy. We'll see!
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 

My academic journey has been full of personal and professional growth. Starting first year, I was getting used to this new environment. I'll be honest; I did not do well academically. At all. However, with the help of Academic Advising and Career Centre and other support groups on campus, I was able to get on my feet and succeed both academically and socially. Starting second year, I became involved on campus. This allowed me to make new friends and build connections. In third year, I started working on campus and become increasingly more involved. I'm not sure how the science works behind this, but being involved on top of your academics increases your marks. You will genuinely feel more connected to the community, and as a result happier which leads to quality academic work. Lastly, my final year has been full of exciting and new opportunities. The hard work throughout the years has paid off. I was hired as a research assistant by my professor and I also work at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Nonetheless, my years at UTSC did not come without challenges. There were many. However, persistence and dedication is key. There are many resources available at UTSC, I highly recommend to take advantage of them!

Danielle Tivoli

Major: Political Science
Minors: Public Law and Urban Public Policy and Governance

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
Choosing these correlating programs as my point of study was due to knowing what this major and these minors could offer me within my years of study, and the type of diverse, well rounded degree I would have to offer once I graduate. University of Toronto became my first choice not only due to the fantastic name, but the experience of immersing their students directly into public law. The types of courses and vast range of specific forms of law being offered would give myself a versatile and vast amount of information on the topic. This minor would allow for a step forward in being prepared for LSAT's and Law School, and give experience in the school of thought of law. Knowing this would give an advantage in applying for law school and having the experience to do well, choosing this program was a simple choice. When approaching the program advisor about more information and making the change, I was provided with lots of guidance, knowledge of what the courses would entail, and how my studies would look over my 4 year period. Knowing the experience and advantage this program would provide myself for law school, and, even if law school were not to be my choice anymore, the specialization would provide an advantage in a job market, choosing public law as my minor was an easy choice. The staff made this crossover easy and informative. I was pleased with what this program would offer me long-term compared to other minors.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The highlights of this program are the diverse amount of courses to broaden your study of public law. From Comparative Legal Systems, to Public Policy, to Constitutionalism, these courses provide not only readings and lectures, but entail assignments such as case briefs to provide real world law experience. The professors, such as Alison Braley-Rattai have an immense amount of experience, network and knowledge to provide students in the program. Due to having her as my professor for the bulk of my public law minor courses, she challenges students to critically think and apply knowledge and skills to not just "know" what is taught, but to really absorb and apply the information. Although specifically challenging in order to truly understand and employ the knowledge, the guidance and help provided by this professor, and the wonderful teaching assistants allow for a helping hand every step of the way. This program is academically rigorous to shape the students to be prepared for real life law experiences. Apart from the academic aspect, career planning workshops, forum events, research studies, student conferences, work and study opportunities, and many other types of groups and events are offered exclusively to the small group of academically charged public law students. These opportunities not only provide insight to what future opportunities are to come and help achieve them, but allow for interesting and crucial experience to obtain as a student. Choosing a career path now that I am ending my academic journey is endless and broad, and the paths that I can take are extremely expansive due to the academic and non-academic experience this minor has given to me.

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

1) Take advantage of every academic and non-academic opportunity provided to you as a student in public law. The large amount of clubs, workshops, forums and experiences will not only allow for deeper understanding of politics, law and policy on multiple platforms, but provide out of school experience and contacts to apply. Job and internship opportunities are immense with the opportunities provided. As well, in school opportunities, such as summer placements and courses give advantages that a similar student from another study or institution may not have. The forums provided draw in contacts for your area of study as well, and these contacts can prove as important for jobs and internships for during or after study. Knowing people and networking within your area of study can provide endless opportunities across the globe in your field, and taking part can make the largest difference in your life. Join clubs, make a club and stay active! Public law is extremely diverse and the opportunities are endless...making a club can provide experience and connections with fellow students! Take advantage of everything given to you through being in this program, for all of these can make the largest change in your life.

2) Be aware of time constraints and use your academic resources. Apart from the large and broad ideas of contacts and job help spoken about in the first tip, when speaking academically, the public law minor requires thought. This minor will provide you with assignments, when completed well, can give an advantage to employers and yourself as a learning experience. Make sure you plan your semesters and courses with your program advisor in advance to manage your time and types of courses. The help with the program advisor is fantastic, so take advantage when planning ahead. As well, make note to work on assignments slowly but surely and truly think and use library and academic sources to help achieve the top grades you want and need. Achieving good grades is difficult in every program, but with planning ahead, planning your time and using sources and help, good grades can be achievable!

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

Looking forward to after your academic journey is completed and graduation approaches, the future plans with your program can be endless. This program allows for expansion in many streams of politics, ranging from the many types of law itself, policy, international relations, and many more. The most apparent choice will be law itself, due to the immense experience this minor provides, and the glimpse into what specializations you enjoy, to figure out what type of lawyer you may want to be. In order to go further with your law, an LSAT test will have to be administered in order to go into law school. As stated before, the expansion into politics, policy, etc. can be achieved through paid and unpaid internships offered in Ontario, Canada and worldwide, and through masters programs. I myself am looking into writing the LSAT in order to go further into the study of law, and also looking towards internships for job experience to see into what stream interests myself the most in the real world, apart from academics. The fantastic part of this program is that your future plans can be endless, and ranging from more academic experience (which is also ranging and endless), or diving right into the working world of politics and law. This program can provide an advantage in writing difficult tests, such as the LSAT, which is a massive prompt to join this advantageous program.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
In my first academic year, I was not belonging to this minor program. I found this year to be a large learning experience to understand what you enjoy studying, see what you do not enjoy studying, as well as what clubs and extra-curricular activities you may enjoy. I found this an informative year to develop my academic skills immensely and find use in all the resources provided. This year is a huge change where I found myself unsure of my initial program and study, and by second year I was more stable and knowing of what interests me. In my second academic year, I secured my interest in policy, law and politics, and lead a path towards that goal. This year was extremely interesting due to going beyond basic intro courses into seeing all different types of what the program offers. Another important aspect of this year was creating bonds with professors and figuring out what specific forms of study interest myself. This year will feel easier academically, due to knowing what to do in regards of managing time, and using your resources. Joining clubs and attending the events provided allowed for the networking progress to begin, and this is when as a student I started to feel like a part of my program and truly committed and sure of what I enjoyed studying. In my third year, becomes extremely specific and the choices become endless in specificity of what one wants to study. These courses include international law, the Canadian constitution, American politics, law of work, public policy, and many more. This allows for interest in what type of internships or masters programs one may want to explore in the following year to prepare for graduation. As I prepare for my fourth year, I find myself academically prepared due to the experience I have obtained and find myself looking towards what the future may hold. The fourth year is about balancing academics with applying for future programs, taking the LSAT, or looking towards job opportunities, overall, it means planning for the future. Allow this may sound scary, each year's experience with academics and professors allow for these choices to be clear and for you to be prepared for your future in law!

Abby Leung

Specialist: Political Science
Minor: Public Law

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

When I was in Grade 12, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to study in university and as a result, I applied to a number of programs at a number of universities. My high school encouraged students to explore numerous career paths and as a teenager, I had (and still have!) a passion for many subjects ranging from biology, chemistry, history, dramatic arts, and law! I spent some time thinking about my strengths, my goals for the future, and my passion to help others and I began to narrow down my choices after attending the March showcase at UTSC where I met a number of students at the Political Science department who discussed not only the political science programs at UTSC but also a new public law minor that would focus on the laws and court systems in Canada. After much reflection, I decided that I wanted to use my strengths in writing and critical analysis to help others and thus, I chose to specialize in political science and minor in public law at UTSC because I wanted to learn more about the courts, the political process in Canada, and how politics and law affects everyone every single day whether we know it or not.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Studying political science and public law is amazing because not only do you learn about the legal system, the courts, and the law itself, but you also learn valuable academic skills that tests you intellectually and trains you for a wide range of careers outside of university. The courses allow students to think critically about the law and of the institutions within our society which allows students to use and develop their critical and analytical skills which are very crucial not just for university courses but for any career once students graduate from university. The political science program as well as the public law program train students to use these skills as well as writing and logical reasoning and apply them in university courses and the world outside of university.

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

As a first year, I was blown away by the amount of work that you had to complete every week in order to understand and solidify the content not just for one course but for five different courses! Always start your readings and your work early because the work will pile up and before you know it, final projects, essays, and exams will be lurking just around the corner! In addition, the professors and staff at the university may seem intimidating but they are there to help students with any questions about the coursework so if you have any questions about the coursework, student life, careers after graduation, or about life (!) talk to the professors and the university staff on campus, they are there to help. Lastly, students should be active not just in their classes and studying but also around the campus itself. A great way to get involved with campus life and to meet new friends and peers is to join different student organizations and clubs whether the clubs are linked to your program or not. By joining different organizations, you'll get to meet new people who are in your program as well as people who are not in your program so that not only will you meet new friends, but you will become a person who will be more integrated within the UTSC community.

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

I am planning to apply and attend law school after graduation where I hope to earn a JD degree!

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

My academic journey has been more stable than others but I mostly attribute it to learning about the university and the experiences of students at the university level prior to attending UTSC as well as polishing my studying and reading habits. Taking a number of courses outside of my program in first year allowed me to have an appreciation of the different programs at UTSC and I was able to make friends with students who were not in my program. I finished my first year feeling confident about myself and decided to become more active in extracurriculars around the campus since I had decided to solidify my academic skills prior to engaging in more extracurriculars. I began to broaden my critical thinking skills in second year as my courses began to become more centralized in political science and delved into more specific subject material. After finishing my second year, I decided to take on new experiences and diversify my education by studying criminology with other U of T students at Oxford University in August through the Summer Abroad program. As I begin my third year, I hope that I can continue to succeed academically as well as to continue to help students around campus through my involvement in student organizations on campus. My academic journey has been very memorable so far and I hope to create new and exciting memories in my third and fourth year!
 

Meena Sivaneswaralingam

Major: Human Geography
Minors: Critical Migration Studies & Public Law

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

personal interests

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

They are very fun and interesting. The best part is that these programs allow you to apply theories to current world issues and helps students better understand them. In addition, the professors support student’s ideas and opinions, and provide opportunities to share them through publications, research, conferences and much more.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1. Talk to your professors about their research. Their research may interest you and you can conduct your own research through independent research courses, or even be part of their current research.
2. Join Departmental Student Associations! They always have so much to offer which is relevant to the programs and course work.
3. There are many opportunities where you can use what you learn in class to the work field. Co-op placements, personal research, work-study programs, and even CTLB03 "Introduction to Service Learning"

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

Hopefully, I will pursue a Master’s degree and continue to conduct research on immigration and human geography.

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

1. I knew my interests but wasn't sure what programs would match them.
2. Discovered the programs that I am currently enrolled in and started to specialize. I also started my own research and found work experiences that correlated with my interests.
3. Continued doing well in my programs and networked with faculty and professionals. Immersed myself into more work-study positions that allowed me to incorporate course concepts into my work.
4. Finishing up my programs and conducting research with colleagues. As well as being in the work-study program and continuing to connect course content to my work-study positions.