1. Can you share an example of a time something really unplanned or unexpected happened and how did you handle it?
I put a lot of work into studying for this one midterm, the first one of the semester. I was very prepared and I felt confident afterwards, but when I got my marks back, it was totally not what I was expecting. I talked to my prof afterwards and basically I made a mistake. As students, we face unexpected academic outcomes and we put a lot of effort into having the best outcomes possible. Going off of the theme of flexibility, one midterm and one exam isn’t going to change anything. Be flexible, and give yourself room and time to get better from it.
2. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt there was a barrier in your way? How did you manage it?
All the time. Focusing more on the academic side, there are a lot of times in class when I don’t understand what’s happening. The way I manage things is to be persistent with what I’m trying to achieve. Set goals for myself to complete this assignment by this time or understand these notes by this time. If I’m really struggling, I will go to a professor’s office hours to comprehend and get clarification. Peers and TAs also help. For me, I understand that a barrier isn’t going to go on forever. Barriers are there for you to cross. Find a way for you to get better from it and move on.
3. What are you curious about?
This is going to sound cheesy because this is what the series is focused on. I’m curious about what my future can bring in the terms of career fulfillment. I’ve always been set on a particular field. I’m curious about what my education can bring for me and what kind of opportunities there are. Curiosity drives me to reach out to upper years or people in the field. Overall, it allows me to get out of my comfort zone. I use LinkedIn all the time to reach out to people and learn their career story to find out how they got to where they are. I usually prepare a couple questions before I reach out to them. Most of the time, people are very open with mentoring younger people and they tell you all about their experiences. It’s a great learning curve for me. Every person has a different and unique experience; learning these experiences allows me to understand my field in a more interdisciplinary way.
4. What are some of the changes or risks you have taken that you are glad you took? Why?
One of the biggest risks I’ve taken so far in my life is when I was going into university. I had to make a significant decision on my own without anyone else’s influence and it was a risk because I didn’t know a lot about Mac. I knew it was a good school and research intensive, and that it had the program I was interested in. I didn’t know if I would fit in or if university was even for me. Juggling decisions, I eventually took the risk. I’ve had a very amazing experience so far, have grown a lot as a person and met a lot of amazing people. The fact that I took the risk helped me grow as a person. I never had to take a large risk before, usually just smaller ones guided by parents and friends. The process was very important to go through before coming into university because it helped me grow as a person. I felt like if I didn’t take the risk or even try it out I would never know if it was a good decision or not.
5. What do you find most exciting when you think of your future?
I have always been interested in pursuing the field of ecology – wildlife restoration/conservation area, saving animals, etc. I’m very excited to see what I could do and what potential I have to go into the field. At an undergrad level, I’m already seeking out a lot of opportunities that could lead to a position, volunteer or paid – any experience to get my hands in the field. Just in general, thinking about the future and experiencing a new life that I am not used to will be very exciting.
6. We all have uncertainties about our future. What is your tip or trick for handling the unknown?
I’ve heard of this saying where it’s like, it’s not the fact that you think about the future that makes you anxious, it’s the fact that you’re trying to control it that makes you anxious. I treat the future as something that’s exciting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something negative. Eventually, what’s going to happen is going to happen. Uncertainties help you grow as a person. I mostly think in a positive sense. There are a lot of things that are unknown – there are going to be times when you’re overwhelmed and where things can go wrong and you’re not going to want to go in that direction. There is no way to control it and it will only add to your stress and anxiety. Everyone goes through hardships – just be optimistic about the future. Uncertainties make it exciting. Validate yourself. Love yourself.
Reta is a second year student in the Faculty of Science, currently studying Environmental Sciences.