Francesca DeNoble

Graduated 2021

BA English and SASAH, Minor in Italian Language 

Hometown: Beeton, ON

After SASAH: Corporate Communications Coordinator for Ledcor Group of Companies

What attracted you to this program?

Quite literally the people! When I entered my first year at Western, I wasn't actually a SASAH student - a stroke of luck put me on the SASAH floor in Ontario Hall, both a fluke and a gift. All of my friends were in this extremely interesting Arts program that I had never heard of before, and by the time December rolled around, I had learned enough about their program (and been invited to all the socials) to know that this was the path I wanted to put myself on, too. I worked closely with the Director to complete my application and interview process that winter and was accepted for first semester of second year. 

"You're surrounded by like-minded, creative individuals, all with different passions and focuses within their own programs. It's an extremely motivating environment, and to be supported by such a diverse and well-rounded faculty means that you always have someone to turn to."

What are your thoughts about life as a SASAH student? What makes it unique?

Everyone might say this, but it's definitely the community SASAH gives you. This program gave me my roommates and best friends for the next four years, which is pretty amazing. You're surrounded by like-minded, creative individuals, all with different passions and focuses within their own programs. It's an extremely motivating environment, and to be supported by such a diverse and well-rounded faculty means that you always have someone to turn to - or ask for a reference letter! Everyone is pushing you to do your best, and the professors genuinely care about your success. Knowing that both your teacher and your peers know your name makes for a more welcoming environment than a standard lecture hall typically would. 

How did your relationship with SASAH students positively affect your experience at Western?

SASAH gave me my best friends, my roommates, and pretty much my entire professional network. Doing a double major means that you get to take some space away from the program - you're doing different courses, meeting new professors, befriending new people. You have the time to explore interests outside of the SASAH community, which is great. But you also always have that community to fall back on. This means there's always an event to go to, initiatives to support, or a room to chill in on campus with your friends. 

How has SASAH prepared you for the job market and/or graduate school?

Incredibly well. My job is essentially a direct result from being in SASAH - I networked with alumni and supporters of the program until I was able to find a company in search of someone just like me. If you're in SASAH, it's probably because you're driven, self-motivated, and know when and how to take initiative. I can only speak for my experience in the corporate world (going on ten months now), but employers LOVE these things. If you're a high-achieving individual (which SASAH really pushes you to be), then you'll likely feel comfortable tackling your first 'adult job' (it might feel like you're faking it at first - that's fine too, I think everyone is. Even the real grown-ups). 

What lessons and skills contributed to your success after you graduated?

In addition to the skills you can probably assume SASAH would lend (initiative, drive, time-management, etc.), there was a few I didn't expect, and one of those is to always keep an open mind! I really wanted to secure a job immediately after graduating - I had plans to move to Vancouver and being able to use my degree in a job I would excel at was important to me. So I did that - that doesn't mean I am going to be here forever or that this is the job I need to work for the rest of my life. Luckily, I have found myself in a very supportive work environment with a manager who encourages my growth and understands that I'm still trying to 'find my passion.' It can feel kind of debilitating at times (as though I am supposed to have the rest of my life worked out at 22 years old), but I think being in SASAH really taught me that the ability to explore is so important. Explore your interests, change your mind, discover new things. Talk to people, volunteer, try something and hate it, move around. Nothing is set in stone, and I don't think it's worth stressing about! SASAH sets you up with such a broad range of skills - somehow we ended up coding in our second year, and though weird, it was also cool. It was great to receive so much exposure to different subjects, because now I don't feel scared to try new things!

As an experienced graduate, do you have any advice for current SASAH students?

Don't burn yourself out! I worked, volunteered, did sports, clubs, etc. yada yada - the things we're probably all obsessed with because we're 'high-achieving'. It was great and undoubtedly contributed to my success after graduation - but I definitely could have spent more weekends going out, exploring London, and spending quality time with my friends. As we all know now, nothing is permanent! I thought I would have a whole other year to go to events and make lasting memories. Then COVID hit - lame. My roommates and I got creative and did what we could to have a good time (think socially distanced parking lot dance parties on Halloween in student-dominated neighbourhoods), but I can't say that I don't look back on years one through three without a twinge of regret. It's not getting good marks that I think back on, but the times in between those successes when my friends and I closed our laptops for a few hours in favor of having a good time. Sometimes this meant getting dressed up and going dancing, and sometimes it meant binge-watching bad reality TV, Barbie movies, and ordering Uber Eats for the second time that week. You know, balance.