Graduation can feel like a deadline that seems so distant at the start of the semester, but suddenly creeps up on you and catches you off guard. Apart from achieving another academic ‘milestone’, you don’t necessarily graduate as the same person you were when you started school. Every experience you had during this period tested your character and inevitably shaped your outlook on life. These six English student graduates reflect on their time at Ryerson University, and offer insight on the lessons they have accumulated over the course of their undergraduate careers:
Chantal Townsend on Finding Balance:
“Ryerson has many amazing features and activities outside of its classroom doors. I’d have to say my favourite part of [about] Ryerson was participating in the student groups on campus and meeting so many different people. Ryerson has a student group for everyone, almost guaranteeing that if you can’t find your best friends in your lectures, you can find them somewhere else on campus. I even became president of one such student group, Lifeline, in my final year of university. I’m saddened that my time here is up, but the memories I’ve made at Ryerson will stick with me as I move on.”
Photo Credit: Chantal Townsend
William Moo on Getting Involved on Campus:
“Do something that you love and it will take you places. Whether you join a club, society, course union, whatever; get involved in things other than schoolwork. It gives you the experience for what’s out there in the world and you find that you’ll enjoy what you’re doing more. More importantly, it looks good on a resume or CV.”
Credit: William Moo
Sabrina Sgandurra on Leadership Positions:
“Learn to say no, because you can’t be a good leader if you burn out. Know that not everything will go the way you planned, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Know that, as long as you try hard and continuously think keep the betterment of the student experience in mind, and as long as you keep pushing forward through all of the hardships, you will inspire someone; it doesn’t matter if it’s only one student or one thousand students. If you can better at least one person’s university experience through your leadership, you’ve already done your job.”
Photo Credit: Sabrina Sgandurra
Vicki Lee on Finding Community:
“In first year, I had a grossly distorted view of university: I saw the classroom as less of a learning environment and more of a battle arena. This woeful perspective was something I carried on from high school, as I attended one that is notoriously rigorous and competitive (where your academic average decided your social calibre). My approach to education has always been study, study, study and if that helped me attain a stunning average in high school, I figured the same technique would be foolproof in university as well. I cringe just reflecting on this now, but I had a Darwinian attitude towards my classmates too, thinking that they were my rivals and I should insulate myself from all distractions. At Ryerson, I was often in solitude between classes and I always left campus once lectures ended, as if a conversation as long as a meagre five minutes would compromise my academic performance or something.
However, I soon learned that social isolation is unhealthy and more importantly, not at all conducive to learning. Thankfully, by second year, I began to reform my outlook on the university experience and those around me. I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously and deflated that swollen ego of mine. I also figured that I would enjoy my program much more if balanced my school, work, and social life. Now in my final semester, I am proud to have a coterie of kind, supportive, and funny people around me. I’m more academically motivated now because learning is not as violently competitive as it used to seem. Of course, friends won’t eliminate the pressure of school but even when hellbent on 4.0s, there are ways to alleviate the negative energy: listening to music, online shopping, going on dates, and working out (you pay big bucks for tuition, get your money’s worth!) are my preferred methods of stress relief. I’ve also come to appreciate the therapeutic properties of laughter and group interactions. Although university does abide by the survival of the fittest principle, species generally fare better in collectives and thrive in diverse ecosystems. If (academic) natural selection is coming for me, I prefer to have a companion or two with whom I can share the final moment of doom. Most of all, I love my friends.”
Photo Credit: Vicki Lee
Tony Carlucci on Resilience:
“My advice to my younger self would be: get involved and get involved early. Look for a way you can contribute to Ryerson’s community. Ryerson is growing and so your contribution, your new student group, your start-up business idea, your chance to sit on the board of governors, your student-lead awareness campaign, is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact.”
“Never give up without a fight. Yes, you are going to hit a rough patch and it’s going to suck. You are going to feel like you can’t finish your essay, or that you should drop out. You are going to fail a project, or get a C on an assignment. Never give up. Fighting through the tough times builds character and resilience. Fighting through the tough times is more important than breezing through the easy ones.
Most importantly, don’t take your “failures” or your rough patches personally. You are good enough.
We are afraid to try our hardest because if we fail, or get a bad grade, then that means our very best is not good enough. That is harder to accept than not trying and failing. My advice – try your best and don’t be afraid to fail. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. At the end of the day, hold close the truth: before all your successes and after all your “failures”, you are a smart, lovable, capable, successful, beautiful person. You are good enough.”
Photo Credit: Tony Carlucci
Raquel Arcenio on Friendship:
“You will meet several people throughout your time in university. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and makes friends. You will not only have a network of people, where you can go to for support, but also learn from that goes beyond academics. More importantly, you will make amazing friends with whom you can recount some of the fondest and stressful memories with.”
Photo Credit: Raqel Arcenio
I have always thought of university experiences as a personalized journey that’s meant to teach, challenge and help you grow into the person you hope to be. Are you graduating this year? What advice would you give? Tweet us at @HCRyerson