Profile: Jada Charles - How Vic One Shaped Her First Year

When I was applying to U of T, I knew I wanted to be a part of Victoria College. As I did my research, I discovered a little link on the Victoria College website that read "Vic One Program". So, out of curiosity, I clicked it. 

The Vic One Program is a first-year program at Victoria College and it's divided into eight different streams, each focusing on a broad area of study. The stream that interested me most was the Northrop Frye stream, as the legacy of Northrop Frye was one of the things that drew me towards Vic in the first place. The Frye stream description said that it would be about literature and how it is a part of our lives. I filled out the application and submitted it. At the time, I had no idea I'd be accepted, and that my first year would be greater than I could have ever imagined. 

I met Jada Charles on the first day of classes in VIC164, one of the Frye stream courses. Now, six months later, she's one of my closest friends. Her and I have been talking a lot about the program lately, and reflecting on the things we've discovered and how these courses have changed our paths.

Q: What made you choose U of T way back when…approximately 10 months ago? A: I was actually in a huge debate between U of T or McGill. I chose U of T because of Vic One, because my guidance counsellor went to Vic when she was a young woman, and she told me that it was a super intense academic environment that I would enjoy, and that the type of people I’d meet here, I wouldn’t meet anywhere else. She wasn’t in Vic One, but she had friends that were. She said that the Vic One community was a very tight-knit, close, smart group of people, and I said “hey, I want to do that!”. So I applied, and when I got in, I said “I’m going to go to U of T, I want to be a part of that”. 

Q: Was the Frye Stream your first choice?

A: Yes!

Q: Was it a hard decision choosing which stream to pick?

A: Not really. In high school I was super into literature and history, and when I read the description for Frye, it was about culture and literature, which are some of my favourite things, so I thought ‘why not! I’ll give it a go’.

Q: Let’s give our readers a quick rundown of what our four Vic One courses have been this year.

A: So we’ve had VIC164, which was with Robert Davidson. It was a literature focused class—we did Don Quixote, Madame Bovary, and Nights at the Circus. Then we had VIC163 with Anne Urbancic, which was about semiotics. We talked about spaces of education, culture, and language, which I really loved. It was probably my favourite class in all of Vic One. Right now we are in VIC165 with Adam Sol which is another of my favourites. It's a poetry driven course, and we’re covering a lot of different aspects of poetry. We’re also in VIC162, which is about Rome with Kenneth Bartlett, which is such a pleasure.

Q: How has the content of Vic One enhanced your understanding of prior knowledge, or what you’re learning in the courses you’re enrolled in right now?

A: I feel like coming into university, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had a very broad idea of what I thought would be a good career choice, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to gain from U of T. Going into Anne Urbancic’s class…it was kind of crazy how much it changed my life and how I see the world. A lot of the work, when you start it, seems abstract and almost unimportant. I remember reading Derrida and being like ‘why am I reading this’? But then you go into other courses—I take a POL200 course about the theory of political science and you see so many of these things being reflected in everything you do. I would just say that [VIC163] is a course that enhances your life, enhances your learning, and enhances the way you feel about school. You’re super excited to go to class, you want to learn more, and there’s this new desire for learning. You’re shown this new side of academia and it sucks you in. I’m shocked by how taken I am by what I’m learning.  

Q: How important to you are the Vic One connections that you’ve made this year?

A: In a huge lecture hall like Con Hall, it can be super intimidating to talk to your professor. Connection wise, being in such a small class setting, you develop a closeness with your professor naturally. You’re closer to them in a physical sense; when a professor is up on a stage, you don’t really see them as a person. Dropping into their office hours, they’re super nice and friendly. These relationships will help your transition into the rest of your years at U of T.

Q: Pre-Vic One, where was your head at in terms of program selection?

A: I was going to do a political science major with a minor in, I think I wanted to do something like criminology. It was very based on one specific area, because I wanted to do law. I still want to do law, but I think that now, I’m realizing that having a degree is great and going towards that path is important, but when I got into these classes, I realized that they didn’t quite strike me in the way that Vic One did. They didn’t awaken that sense of desire and hunger. It was almost like “I have to go to class”. In Professor Urbancic’s class, I would be so excited to learn more, and that’s when I realized I had to shift. In these four years, you’re meant to find yourself. I can confidently say that I feel like I have found myself in this realm in terms of what I want to do in terms of my learning.

Q: Now what are you thinking for programs?

A: Right now I am dabbling with the idea of three programs: Literature and Critical Theory, Sociology, and Semiotics. 

Q: What advice would you give to students who are just getting their acceptances now, or just sending in their applications, who are considering U of T or considering Vic One?

A: Give it a go! U of T is a really special place. It’s given a bad rep, because we call it U of Tears, and yeah, that’s valid, but I feel like when you’re in a community like Vic, or Vic One, you’re given a family that sticks with you throughout the year, and possibly beyond Robert Davidson’s book club. That’s something that will continue even after this year, and I hope until three or four years from now. Vic One is a very special experience, and I’d recommend it because it’s very easy to feel lost at U of T. When you’re here, you’re given that individuality, and it’s a really nice transition into this new space that you’re almost shoved into after high school. I definitely recommend it.