This is a difficult question because my taste and needs constantly change. I have a favourite nostalgic book (Harry Potter), favourite books that breaks my heart (The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Beloved), as well as others which are meaningful and moving in different ways (A Thing Around Your Neck and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). I am currently enjoying further exploring works by Roxanne Gay and Toni Morrison, and hope to explore more graphic novels.
During my undergraduate degree, there were a few courses which were memorable due to the professors engaging with content in an exciting way. Such courses include Paul Chafe’s Academic Writing and Research, Sarah Harrison’s Homelessness in Canadian Society, Dale Smith’s Poetry in the City, and Nima Naghibi’s Travel Literature (a 4th year seminar course). The impressive faculty at Ryerson truly make this school.
You studied abroad during your undergrad. Where did you go and how was that learning experience? What was your favourite part?
I went to Edinburgh, Scotland for the Fall and Winter semesters during 3rd year. It was an interesting and wonderful experience. A highlight, aside from the wonderful people I met, the beautiful scenery and the mobility which Europe can provide, it was great learning about the Scottish contemporary literary scene and Scottish culture in the environments which were being written about. A memorable text from the contemporary literature course is the dystopian Lanark by Alasdair Gray.
How long did you wait before deciding to complete your masters? What inspired that decision, and why Immigration and Settlement Studies at Ryerson?
It took me 4.5 years to complete my BA, so I took 1.5 years off to travel and see what work an English BA could get me. I worked in tourism for a year, in hopes of combining my love of travel with communication skills. While a valuable learning experience the tourism industry was not a good fit for me. It was very bizarre selling luxury trips while it felt like the world was on fire.
I started volunteering weekly at an adult literature centre during this period. I became very inspired by the adults using Parkdale Project Reads, many of whom are newcomers or second-generation Canadians and experience various intersecting institutional oppressions.
In late spring of 2017 went to a social justice networking event organized by Ryerson in an effort to find work in the non-profit sector, and after discussing some of my aspirations with the event organizer, she suggested I apply to the ISS program. I was skeptical to complete both degrees at the same institution, however, Ryerson’s ISS program was the most appealing as it is interdisciplinary and has a placement component, which would offer valuable hands-on learning opportunities other universities did not. I applied in May 2017, and am enjoying it thus far!
What is it like being a TA for the Sociology Department? For those who don’t know, how does the process of becoming a TA work and what are some of your duties?
Being a Graduate/ Teaching Assistant has been an incredibly valuable and somewhat tumultuous learning experience. There was a lot of ‘learning as I went’ so tutorial preparation often took longer than anticipated.
The application process differs between programs and schools. In this program, the ISS administrator or director sends out a mass email to all students with a link to an application for a position with ISS faculty in an undergraduate course they’re teaching. It is the same for marking or research positions. Not all TA’s teach or have office hours- duties are very dependent on the course and department funding.
I was TA’ing for Toronto: The Changing City with Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh, who made this position as valuable as it was, thanks to her organization, support and mentorship. My duties included attending 2 hours of lecture weekly, 1 hour of meetings weekly, teaching 56 students for 2 hours weekly, office hours close to exams and final assignments, constant email support for students, marking essays and invigilating exams.
How have you changed as a student since starting university?
I don’t feel I have changed directly, but I am noticing links in everyday life to some things discussed in my classes. It’s interesting to be able to go to a comedy show or engage with someone in a grocery and look at the bigger picture while being equipped with the vocabulary. My peers are also incredibly inspiring, multitalented and bright; I am learning a lot from them.
Any tips for someone wanting to apply to grad school?
While I appreciate the popular suggestion of shopping around and not rushing, going with your gut instinct can also be useful. Sometimes change doesn’t come about in a pragmatic way and is instead born out of fear or an urge to take action. If you feel strongly about something, there’s a good chance you have potential to do something good with that passion. A year passes quickly!
If you’re not sure if a program or institution is a good fit for you, chatting with faculty or past graduate students is a great starting point. When shopping around for programs I met with a few faculty members to discuss their thoughts on the program and what I hoped to get out of it; their input was very helpful.
MA Immigration and Settlement Studies