By Michael Cassar – Peer Employment Advisor
A great athlete once said:
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe, a former World No.1 tennis player, once said this. Unfortunately, Mr. Ashe died in 1992 of AIDS-related pneumonia. He was a champion of many firsts: Ashe was the first male African-American player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only African-American to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.
Before his many successes in sport and his advocacy and charity work to fight and defeat AIDS, Arthur went through the adversity of losing his mother at a young age of just seven years old, and experienced racism and segregation in the USA in the 1960’s with the Civil Rights movement in full-swing.
But Arthur knew that if he could envision what goals he had, what he dreamed to achieve, he could get through it and persevere forward to be successful no matter what adverse situation, hurdle, or problem he was facing. That is the beauty of success; it does not care about race, religion, colour, creed, or origin. If you define what success means to you, the odds of achieving what you want shall always be in your favour.
Being a student whose post-secondary journey did not originally begin at UOIT, each day I am on campus I am inspired and forever grateful for the many student services and avenues for improvement available at the Student Life office (located in the U5 Portable on the North Campus and at 61 Charles Street on the Downtown Campus)! These great services were a large part of the reason why I wanted to transfer and continue my post-secondary journey at a university that is closer to my home and my heart.
One of the big hurdles I often quarreled with during my time as a first-year student attending the University of Ottawa was trying to find a way to balance maximizing my grade point average, attending as many on-campus club and society events of my interests, having a social life with friends and family with those who are around and far away from me, all while managing the sweeping life change that was living on my own for the first time!
Looking back, that was quite a bit of responsibilities and aspirations to juggle! And the juggling part was not easy, as I have yet to complete my degree from Clown’s College! Hahaha!
I thought I’d throw in some mild clown humour! Someone told me that it’s a nice “jester” to do so…
Okay, I promise I’ll stop with the clown puns (for now).
But back to the story: juggling my life when I was on my own. There were times where school work, my social life, relationships, athletics, eating habits and day-to-day routines felt like a giant blur; all being vacuumed into a black-hole like portal of ambiguity. I am using this outer space analogy because it often felt like that my future is constantly in flux.
There were many things that probably could have attributed to that. Maybe it was that my grade point average was not at the level that it was at in high school and had dropped significantly? Maybe it was the change of sitting at a dinner table without my mother and father right beside me? Maybe it was that for the first time in my life, I got to truly begin being the adult in my own life? Maybe it was the combination of all of those things?
There are two things I learned from this that have helped me to be the student I am today. First, that a future influx can inspire possibility and not fear, and secondly, that I should embrace my future of tomorrow by taking actions today!
It was in March of 2015, when I had made the decision to change where I was going to complete my undergraduate degree in Commerce. There was this lovely little place close to home known as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. It was really a homecoming of homecomings because not only had I already been aware of this school having lived and been raised near it, but I also was accepted into its commerce program back in grade twelve along with my brother who studies engineering. It was at this point in my life when I learned that no matter where you currently stand, where you used to stand, and where you eventually want to stand, to have any place to stand, you must first rise.
Do you want to know one of the best known secrets in my life? Simple, I know that nobody can get there on their own, no matter where their ‘there’ is. It is interesting to note how the words there and where both have the word ‘here’ in them. In any good story where the protagonist wins in the end, there is always a sidekick, mentor, or friend who has shared their wisdom, empathy and compassion towards them to help keep them motivated along the way.
One cool and interesting story I recall from my time in the nation’s capital is when I spent a night participating in uOttawa’s Long-Night Against Procrastination, hosted by a faction of their many student services, the Academic Writing Help Centre and the Student Academic Success Services in November of 2014. As you all may be very well aware, procrastination often occurs to students who put off, forget about, fail to plan for, or just don’t have the energy to complete a assignment, project, or regular study time for midterms and final exams.
So I was down there, sitting at the table with two friends of mine and passersby I recognized on campus when I was on my way to my classes; I was amazed at just how many people had turned up for this event. The entire Academic Writing Help Centre had become full of students who were talking and engaging with each other about something many people go through in the creative thinking process. Whether it was the fun games and activities we as students all shared and took part in, or whether it was when I was studying with two friends of mine from my first year calculus class, it was a memorable time where student services helped me feel united and connected early in my time in our campus community.
Fast-forwarding from that event, when I would often speak with my older brother, who just a mere eighteen months older than I. He will be returning to UOIT this fall to complete his fourth year of engineering after his internship with a company called Napoleon Fireplaces, a division Wolf Steel Ltd., located in Barrie, Ontario. Back in March of 2015, when I transferring to UOIT and considering the very big decision to transfer to a university that is much closer to my hometown of Bowmanville, my brother was in full-swing of his application for co-op and the internship searching process of finding an employer. Thanks to the helpful and optimistic coordinators and employment advisors I now have the pleasure of calling my co-workers, I am proud to say that he had two offers and he is really loving his experience with a company that offered him an internship opportunity of a lifetime.
It is inspiring to know that we are at a really dynamic time in our school’s history. Being a youthful and new institution, we are very fortunate to have much closer relationships with those who can provide students with the services and resources we may need. I fundamentally believe that the stronger those relationships and bonds are with such resource providers, the greater the student’s potential for success and happiness in their field of studies and life going forward will be.
So today my friends, when you next gaze upon our lovely campus and see the sun shining in the sky, or setting in the west, remember that each every day, as the current one ends, and a new one begins, there is a committed, energetic, and enthusiastic team of people who are looking to provide you with the services you need to succeed in your future! From financial aid to the career centre, from the student learning centre to the conversation cafe, your dreams and aspirations of tomorrow can start by finding and unlocking the power and potential you have to change the world today!
Until the next article, good morning, good afternoon, and good night everyone!
P.S. Much apologies for not having this lovely article up sooner, I just need to wrap my head on what I wanted to write.