What’s the next step?

Graduation is creeping up and I have no idea what will be next.

We all come to University with different plans. Mine was just to get my undergrad and figure the rest out when the time came. That time is here and it’s terrifying.

Since second year I have known that I want to go for my masters once I’m done my undergrad here at UOIT. At first I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go straight out of my BA or take a year off to work and gain some experience. During third year I decided I didn’t want to take a year off and would rather just continue my academic career without taking a break. Part of the reason I felt this way, was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to get a job related to my field and would be stuck working a minimum wage job for the year, ultimately doing nothing for my resume. I also worried about not wanting to come back to school once I’ve been off for a year. School comes with endless amounts of work and stress, and who wants that? Not me. Through talking with people who have master’s degrees I heard arguments for both taking a year off and not. I firmly decided I wasn’t going to take a year off. By the time I made this decision it was the middle of August 2016. I started looking into various programs at different school across Ontario. There were a few that I was really interested.

My mom convinced me that I should take advantage of the career centre at school, so I made an appointment for mid September. I showed up to my appointment knowing the programs I was going to apply to and just had a few questions… or so I thought.

After looking the programs I was interested in over with my counsellor, I realized I needed to take another look at available programs for a few reasons:
1) I missed the date for the psychology GREs and the next date to write is in April, long after applications are due.
2) I was looking at very theory based programs, when clinical is more appropriate for where I want to go with my career.
3) The careers I am interested will require a Phd, something I had not planned on getting (some schools prefer you complete both your masters and Phd at their school for they link together).

This is when the tears started. To this day I’m not entirely sure why I was crying. Maybe it was the fact that the programs I had decided I was interested weren’t the best fit for me. Maybe it was the fact that I realized I might have to take a year off. Maybe it was that I realized all this is coming up so fast and I’m not ready. Or maybe it was all these things combined. I think I was just overwhelmed with information and decisions, unsure of what to do.

Its been almost two months since I went to speak with career counselling, and I’m still not entirely sure which programs I’m going to apply to, but I do feel more confident in my choices now than I did sitting in that office.

I wanted to share this story because I think there are a lot of students in the same place as me, unsure about what comes after graduation. It’s a difficult decision to make – whether to continue your education after completing your undergrad or not. It’s important to consider what you want in the long run, and where you would like to end up. Taking advantage of the services on campus such as the career centre is extremely helpful, and I highly recommend looking into these services for anyone who is struggling with what they should do next.


Overcoming Stigmas of Anxiety Medication Use

For as long as I can remember, my family has been very strict and opinionated on the use of medication for any kind of mental illness. “You’re faking it” or “It’s all in your head” are the kind of things I was told all throughout my childhood. With those kinds of mind sets I had no idea that I even had a mental illness ,let alone that something was seriously wrong with me. I lived a good portion of my life going through constant and severe panic attacks over the ‘littlest’ things you could imagine; I couldn’t walk by myself, I couldn’t let my sister go off on her own without me having a freak out, I could not get into any form of trouble at all or I would absolutely lose it. Each thing that was so seemingly small and minuscule to others was like the end of the world for me and I didn’t know what was wrong.

I went through my daily life in constant horror and terror and could not live my life the way a growing adolescent should. Yet every time I brought up my problems I was told that I was “too paranoid,” or a hypochondriac, that I belong in a straight jacket…the list goes on. No one took me seriously and so I continued to live in a world full of pain, fear, and confusion.

Fast forward to my entrance into university: I was ready for a fresh and new start. I was already living my life basically as an adult because of the childhood that anxiety had stripped from me, so I thought I was super prepared. I mean I could do anything because I was already on my own in my world at home so I could totally live on my own, right? Well that wasn’t exactly how it went… somehow my anxiety got worse and spiraled, then, the depression set in. I couldn’t and wouldn’t get out of bed for anything. I was failing, I was sad and I just did not know if I even wanted to be in the program I was in anymore because I was failing. I mean, I had never failed anything…ever. I was a smart and hard-working student despite all of the hurdles I had to overcome at home.  However, being on my own and having so much freedom and having to self-regulate myself destroyed me. I was lost, more lost than  I have ever been and I had no one to turn to. Even if I did tell someone, my family never ever talked about this kind of thing so who would have believed me? I didn’t know who I could talk to or who would be able to help me. I felt as thought I was never going to get better… Once again my life was shrouded in sadness and overwhelming guilt…the panic attacks just kept coming.

I was so behind in classes that I would give up because by the time I caught up there would be more and more to do. I was drowning. I had to get my life together and it had to be fast because if I didn’t move fast my University career that I worked so hard to get would be done and over.

Finally I woke up. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and made an appointment with career services because I had to figure out my life and what I wanted, not what anyone else wanted for me. There I met Waleska Vernon; she was the most positive light force in my life that helped me realize that not only could I reach my full potential in my program, but that I wanted to be there and I wanted to work hard and succeed. She allowed me to open up and tell her everything that I had been through, my anxiety journey and she didn’t judge me, she just listened. She took me on as a counselling client and I saw her every week; we worked through anything I felt awful about: my emotional regulation, breathing exercises, my career questions. Basically to everything and anything she had an answer and if she didn’t she worked damn hard to find it for me.

I had someone who finally cared about my well-being and because of that I cared too. When she asked me about medication options for anxiety, I couldn’t believe that was even something I could do. She encouraged me to make an appointment and that I guess is where my story ends… I have been on anxiety medication for almost three years now and the anxiety may never go away but these meds have allowed me to live a happy, non – erratic and healthy life. And without Waleska I wouldn’t have been able to succeed or do the things I have accomplished in my life to date.

Waleska left a year or so ago and I had to open myself up to someone else, which wasn’t easy but I did it. But I should thank her because without her I probably wouldn’t be at this university, my anxiety would have taken over and I probably would be back at home working some minimum wage job (which I do now but hey it pays the bills) and not getting my undergrad which I know I deserve. So my take away message I suppose is: do not let anyone tell you that your problems do not matter; cause they do. Only you can make the changes you want to see in yourself but opening up to anyone who will listen and who you trust a great deal can change your life for the better. Do not be afraid to do things for yourself because at the end of the day you know what is best for you. Screw the haters my friends, love yourself and overall know that you are worthy of living a life you want to live.

Doing what you can for those in need…

For the past 7 summers I have worked at the Canadian National Exhibition, 3 of which I have been a supervisor. This is definitely my favourite time of the year because it is the one job that although it can be very stressful, gives me the most peace. Seeing all the happy guests and helping make those guests happy gives me a joy that I don’t normally feel in my daily life.

This year was the same, if not better than the rest, but right from the start I was presented with a challenge I never thought would happen. On one of my staffs first day she expressed to me that she was having some issues with her mental health and she didn’t know where to turn to besides Google (which we all know is just a disaster waiting to happen). I asked her if she had thought about seeking professional advice but she felt as though no one would get it, that people wouldn’t believe how she feels which is something I completely understand and can relate to so I didn’t push further. And although I did not know much about body dysmorphia, I knew that I had to try and help her in any way that I could.

For the next week or so I began going onto UOIT’s library website and printing out credible articles on the subject (which I totally recommend for those who are starting out their journey to recovery).  Then on my travels to and from work, I read and highlighted parts I found important before handing it all over to her in a little package. Of course as a psychology student it was incredibly interesting to read and very helpful in understanding what the disorder entailed, but nothing was more exciting than the look of relief/appreciation on her face.

I can’t say what changed her mind, maybe it was the information I gave her, maybe it was the fact that I was so understanding to how she felt, or maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with me, but she is now considering going to speak to someone professionally. Putting your faith into a professionals hands can definitely be intimidating, especially for those of us who are tormented by our thoughts and don’t want others to know that side of us. But even if you don’t continue to see someone, I strongly urge you to at least make one visit, take the chance because it may not help (therapy really isn’t for everyone), but it may do incredible things for your mental health.

I think the point of me sharing this is that if someone comes to you with a mental health issue DO NOT turn away because it took so much courage for them to confide in you. A small gesture really does go a long way and even if you don’t know what to do you could end up really impacting someone’s life and in turn they may impact yours for the better.

** It’s been a rough 6 months for me so this post is a little short- more of a way for me to get back into writing!

Fantastic University Services and Where To Find Them!

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.


Services for Students: Indigenous Student Services

Among the many services that are offered to UOIT students, the Indigenous Student Services provides students the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous cultures and traditions. As UOIT is committed to supporting all learners, the Indeigenous Services provides access to visiting Elders, Advising, councelling, inclusive monthly programming. That includes traditional ceremonies, and cultural workshops, Soup and Bannock and a welcoming and inclusive space found at 151 Athol Street (beside 61 Charles street.)


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Student Services: Mature, Transfer, Pathways Students Meet Ups

Did you know that, approximately, 1 in 4 students at UOIT transferred here from another institution? These students could have come from another university, or an advanced college program, or waited a little before going to university after high school.

If you are a Mature, Transfer, or Pathways (Bridging) student, here is some information on MTPS Meet ups to connect with other MTP students, and discuss tips to make your student life easier!


No Money No Problems:  Living on the Student Budget

Tuesday October 20th, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in UB 3023

Thursday October 22nd, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. @ Tutto Market Cafe, Downtown Oshawa

Thursday October 22nd, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ONLINE via Adobe Connect

Take the Lead: Discover Your Leadership Skills

Wednesday November 18th, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. @ Tutto Market Cafe, Downtown Oshawa

Thursday November 19th, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in UB3023

Thursday November 19th, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ONLINE via Adobe Connect

Find Your Calm: Wellness & Balance During Exams

Tuesday December 1st, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in UB 3023

Wednesday December 2nd, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. @ Tutto Market Cafe, Downtown Oshawa

Thursday December 3rd, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ONLINE via Adobe Connect

For further information on MTPS events visit their Facebook page, or go to MTPS website or email them at mtpssupport@uoit.ca.

Campus Events: Campus Connected Orientation Sessions

campus connected (2)

Students interested are invited to attend one of three orientation sessions for Campus Connected, after which you will officially be a part of the initiative!

There are two north campus sessions (Oct 13 and Oct 27) and one downtown session (Oct 29) available at this time.  To register, please use the link below:


Please feel free to invite your friends to register.  All students are welcome to come!

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Student Services: The ONE Program

What is the ONE program?

The ONE program is a service offered to first year UOIT students that helps them transition from a high school student into undergraduate studies, and also gives students a certificate recognizing their achievements.


The program works in 3 phrases.

Phase 1 Sept. 10th to Nov. 15th

Lecture & Note Taking Oct. 6th

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Tessa Troughton

ONE Study Session & Study Tips

Oct. 14th & 15th

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

UB 3023

Time Management & Goal Setting Sept. 30th

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Candace Chard

Sample Spin Class Oct. 8th

Meet @ 5:45 Class from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.



Phase 2 Nov. 15th to Feb. 15th

Stress Management Nov. 12th

3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Jarek Baginski & Marose Bellehumeur

ONE Study Session & Study Tips

Dec. 2nd & 3rd

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

UB 3023

Budgeting 101

Jan. 19th

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Debra White

Self-Assessment Workshop

Feb. 3rd

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Alison Macpherson

Researching Your Career

Feb. 10th

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Alison Macpherson


Phase 3

One Study Session & Study tips                                      ONE Program Community Outreach: Durham Outlook for the Needy

Mar. 9th & 10th                                                                   Mar. 17th & 24th 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. & April 21st & 28th 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.                                                                   **PLEASE NOTE** Register for the time & day that works best for you

UB 3023                                                                                51 King St. E, Oshawa ON L1H 1B4


For further information, please visit the ONE program’s Facebook page, or email them at one@uoit.ca



Campus Events: Indigenous Awareness Week

Beginning this Monday, September 28th, the 2nd annual Indigenous Awareness Events will be happening on campus. Below is a list of the events that will be taking place next week, including instructions on any of the events that need to be registered to join.

Students are encouraged to collect a SEC passport, and to attend at least 2 events during the week to be entered for a chance to win a gift basket or a $100.00 gift card for Shop 61 or the Campus Bookstore. (Attend more events to increase your chances of winning!)

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Offering Help to a Friend

Please note: this post was written by a student who wished to remain anonymous

Before I get into the specifics about a time I reached out to a friend in need, I wanted to share a time that I did nothing.  In grade 8, one of my peers committed suicide. I was absolutely devastated, how could anyone so young lose the will to live? It was so hard to process and I felt sick thinking that if just one person had reached out to her she may have had a very different outcome!

Many people feel very alone in their struggle and letting them know you are there to help can make all the difference. It can be a very nerve-racking experience to approach a friend that you are concerned about, which I completely understand. I cared a lot about this person but I didn’t know how they would react to me telling them that I was concerned about their mental health.

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