How to pay it forward

Find your kindred spirits and embrace opportunities while here

Dear editor,


People keep saying how much I am going to miss school once I am out. It has been difficult to envision this—missing school. Not because I loathed my time here at UTM, but because school has never felt obligatory to me, to an extent. As I depart this stage of life, I undoubtedly will forever be learning. Perhaps not tested on what I have learned, but in the grand scheme of things grades are not indicative of a true understanding of what is important in life.

Throughout my undergraduate journey I met incredibly inspiring people in and out of the university, and what better to do with intelligence than to pay it forward?

Many young adults feel pressure to select a degree that will secure a successful career. It is ignorant to undermine the significance of forward thinking and planning for financial stability. However, for many who feel pressure from parents, it is crucial to absorb the fact that your parents will likely not be around longer than you —this is your life. It is possible to find financial success paired with daily satisfaction. The majority of our generation will not retire before the age of 60; this means you will likely be a full-time worker for a minimum of 30 years. This is not suggesting rebellious behaviour against your parents, but instead taking conscious control of your own life—it is your life. As the hilarious, yet incredibly intelligent Ricky Gervais put it, “The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either’, ” And this is okay! Not to be misinterpreted as an excuse, to the contrary—it is an encouraging reminder to be realistic while being mindful of your own wellbeing and happiness; however you define these entities is subjective.

Specific to the university, meet people who think along analogous wavelengths as you. This could stem from joining recreational clubs, gym classes, labs, whatever the case may be. Find your kindred spirits by embracing the countless opportunities that are provided to U of T students. In doing so, I have met particular professors and graduate students who substantially altered my perspective on life. From the sciences to the humanities departments, I found professors who taught me, implicitly but certainly purposefully, deeper meanings on what it means to be human. This institution is incredibly selective with its staff, and one reason why they are here is to help us—so let them! These are opportunities you can either jump on or let pass by. This ideology should actually be applied to all aspects in life. Do not passively believe you are not an agent of your own life. If you act as an unheard voice, that is exactly what you will remain. Nobody will feel sorry for you, and they should not.

Although it is uncommon for people on their deathbed to thank the prestigious education they received in young adulthood, it is common for people to regret failing to reap opportunities. Contemplate what is best for you now and in the long run, and run with it. The singer-songwriter and education philanthropist Cat Stevens fittingly advised, “You’ve got so much to say, say what you mean, mean what you think, and think anything.” Do not let this university pass by without allowing its help in the development of the person you foresee yourself to be. Truth is, I will not miss school, but what I will miss is this school. It has been a grand pleasure.


Niveen Fulcher

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