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Q. What was your path in terms of learning and work?
A. Since I’ve been little, I’ve been involved with various recreation programs. The recreation program that was the most influential for my current academic path is the Girl Guides of Canada. I started off as a five-year-old Spark and left the organization as a Guide Leader. As I learned about how to develop programs to accomplish specific badges, I realized that pursuing recreation therapy would be perfect for me.
Q. What has been your toughest challenge?
A. I attended the University of Toronto for three years in the goal to complete a Life Sciences undergraduate degree. As the program progressed, I started to realize I was not happy in the science discipline and did not want to dedicate my life to it. I had wanted to be a doctor since I was 11, so realizing that this decade-long goal was wrong was very hard. The toughest challenge was realizing that life sciences wasn’t for me, starting back at square one and deciding what I wanted to do with my life.
Q. What are you doing now?
A. I am enrolled in Canadore College’s two-year recreation therapy diploma. Upon graduation, I will be able to apply to become a member of the Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) organization as a recreation therapist. I might continue to complete a Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation with the University of Lethbridge. Canadore has connected with them so graduates of the diploma can do the degree in two years. If I complete this degree, I could write the exam to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. Canadore’s recreation therapy diploma is a pathway to so many career and academic options.
Q. Why did you choose online learning as opposed to face-to-face?
A. I enjoy the flexibility of online learning. I feel that with COVID we’ve realized as an academic community that you can learn just as well online as in person. I’ve heard most people who were doing in-person classes prior to the pandemic that they enjoy the online delivery more as it gives them more freedom. I agree, especially when classes are recorded.
Q. What would your friends say is your strongest characteristic?
A. My strongest characteristic is empathy. Being able to mirror the feelings of other people has given me the ability to better understand their position and better support them.
Q. Can you share an anecdote that tells us a bit about what makes you tick?
A. I’m a super-disciplined person. Motivational speaker Eric Thomas said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”. I live by this quote. When there’s a goal I want to reach, I position everything I do to work towards this goal.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I am most proud of the development I’ve undergone from being an unhappy University of Toronto student to a successful Canadore College student.
Q. How would you describe your experience with Contact North | Contact Nord?
A: I never turn down an opportunity to grow. Contact North keeps me updated on upcoming learning opportunities that are relevant to my field. The courses that they send me are very enjoyable and have helped me develop as a student and person. I have done an eight-part eBit course series with Lambton College and am going to be completing a webinar series with Western University. I enjoy the fact that Contact North sends me opportunities that I would never know of by myself. I am so happy to get emails about free webinars and courses I can take to help me prepare to be an effective and well-rounded recreation therapist upon graduation.
The other great thing is many opportunities are not exclusive. Sometimes I will share the opportunities with friends and family members who will also register and have the opportunity to develop themselves.
Q. What would you say to others who might lack the confidence to do what you’ve done?
A. One thing I thought about when dropping out of the University of Toronto and figuring out what to do with my life is this: “Would you rather live the rest of your life doing something that kills your spirit, or would you rather go back to school for a few years and do something you love for the rest of your life?” It’s 30 years doing something you hate vs. taking two years in school and 28 years doing something you love!
* This interview has been edited for length and clarity.