Honour’s Specialization in English Literature & Certificate in Practical French
Hometown: Guelph, ON
Current Activity: JD Candidate, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
What attracted you to this program?
SASAH is the reason that I decided to attend Western for my undergraduate education. I was initially attracted to SASAH’s interdisciplinarity. I knew that the opportunity to take focused seminars from all across the arts and humanities as early as first year would greatly enrich my learning, my academic aptitude, and the array of doors that would be open to me post-graduation.
"SASAH students have the world open to them and, in whichever direction they choose to go, believing in the perspective, empathy, and drive they developed in SASAH is what will bring their ambitions to fruition."
What are your thoughts about life as a SASAH student? What makes it unique?
Being a part of SASAH is being a part of an entirely distinct undergraduate experience. Because each year’s cohort is relatively small in numbers – especially as compared to average undergraduate class sizes – SASAH students benefit from maximal one-on-one time with professors and administrators. More importantly, SASAH students benefit from each other. Class discussions are privileged to host a rich variety of perspectives. Because students approach new problems informed by their individual areas of study, discussions are multi-faceted and force students to consider every angle before arriving at the most informed and creative solution possible. Consequently, SASAH encourages acknowledgement of personal ignorance and the danger of feeding unconscious bias. This appreciation for learning beyond personal areas of interest is what makes SASAH students prime candidates for whichever post-graduation path they may choose to follow.
How did your relationships with other SASAH students positively affect your experience at Western overall?
Beyond all that SASAH students can learn from each other, the comradery between us is of immeasurable impact. What bonds SASAH students together is a love of learning coupled with a lover for arts education that surmounts the mountain of public skepticism and disdain for its value. In my personal experience, this bond manifested into a full-time study group and support system, both of which were necessary to manage the heavy course-load and extracurricular commitments SAASAH students take on. I continue to be inspired by all my cohort has accomplished since completing the program.
How has SASAH prepared you for the job market and/or graduate school?
I feel that SASH prepared me for graduate school precisely because, in many ways, being in SASAH is like being in graduate school. Beyond the small class sizes and discussion-focused seminars, SASAH offers its students multiple opportunities to take on independent research. Personally, I took advantage of this opportunity to complete two independent projects for SASAH credit. First, I wrote and staged an original full-length play, Squalls of Glass, written about the mental health challenges recent university graduates face and the power the arts have to heal. Secondly, I completed a four-month internship at Queen’s Park in 2015 in the then-combined ministry office of the Treasury Board Secretariat, Deputy Premier, and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Based on this experience, I devised a script-hansard-essay hybrid to stylistically emulate the performativity of Canadian democratic participation. Both of these projects influenced my successful SSHRC project proposal and jointly formed the foundation of my graduate thesis project at the University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies.
What lessons and skills contributed to your success after you graduated?
Without question, my time in SASAH helped prepare me for my current position as a student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Because of my SASAH education, I understand how to navigate the grey areas of Common Law in order to more fully understand the impact of regulations, statutes, and legal precedence on the diversely different Canadian experiences they affect. In addition, because of SASAH’s inherent interdisciplinarity I was well prepared to face to learning curve law school presents by throwing its students into a completely new environment. There is no SASAH student who completes the program without learning to adapt and thrive in unfamiliar spaces and how to navigate all different kinds of academic and professional dialogues. These skills aided me in achieving my current pro bono positions with the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, Pro Bono Students, Artists’ Legal Advice Services, as well as my internship with University-Rosedale’s Federal Constituency Office, and finally my summer employment at Downtown Legal Services: Criminal Division.
As an experienced graduate, do you have any advice for current SASAH students?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer current SASAH students is to take full advantage of all the program has to offer. In particular, the opportunities SASAH offers to network with different professors and professionals can be critical not only towards enriching your undergraduate experience, but further towards planning your future. Between independent research projects, internships, and professional events, SASAH students get an unparalleled opportunity to investigate and interrogate the fields that interest them for future study or employment. With that said, I would advise current students as much as possible to avoid feeling as though success or failure in one particular endeavour will determine their future. Ultimately, SASAH students have the world open to them and, in whichever direction they choose to go, believing in the perspective, empathy, and drive they developed in SASAH is what will bring their ambitions to fruition.