“Did you have a mentor when you were going through the transition from student to an industry professional? Did you have any struggles?”
“Yes, mine was more like life struggles because four weeks after I actually convocated, I had my first child. Actually, you can say that I learned a lot from having a child very young. As a young artist, I did look at artists. At that time we didn’t have email, so I decided to write a letter to an artist that I really admired, Mary Pratt. I admired her because of the subject matter and what she was doing … and also how she thought about her work and how she thought about herself as an artist.
So one day, I decided I was going to write Mary Pratt a letter, just an old-fashioned letter. I sent it to her gallery in Toronto, they forwarded to her, and she wrote me back… . it was just knowing that people are out there that you can take a look at [and] they have something to tell you and it’s okay to approach them and say ‘I am very interested and I have few questions, do you mind answering them?’
To my mind, I thought that was wonderful because of what she told me and how she took it seriously to write me back and say, ‘Well, I remember these struggles, you just work through it, think about this … ’ In terms of going through graduate school, I definitely had mentors that helped me, and what was nice is I taught for them as a Teaching Assistant and then I took over their classes later on … I think you find mentors in different ways, in different places, at different times in your life, but I think it is important to know what questions you want to ask of them, what they have that you want to learn.”
“What’s your advice to the younger generation students?”
“This is the question that I always got from my students: ‘what should I do?’ ‘How do I prepare?’ I think you don’t have to limit yourself to one specific small area … just keep your mind open to everything. When you are in university, try to study as much as possible. When you are young, you have the opportunity to make mistakes. It took me ten years to figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated from college.
When I was in college, I always thought that I would get a job and I would stay there forever. But it is not the case. When you got into a firm, you will figure out whether you like it or not. If you are thinking about continuing on with school or changing your major, that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.
“I studied Finance; it was pretty hard when I was in college. It was guaranteed that I would get a job in a big firm after I graduated. However, when I was graduating, the Asian Financial Crisis happened, so nobody got hired. There were no financial jobs available in the market. All the banks were frozen. Only accounting firms were hiring people. But I knew nothing about accounting; I only took one course in college about accounting.
At that time, the accounting firm was starting up in China, so that was an opportunity for me. They did not care if you knew accounting or not; they only required you to have a CPA in China to be an auditor. They can train you so they wanted to hire people who can learn very quickly … so I joined them and I had no idea about accounting at all. Ten years down the road, I am here. I became a professor.”
Professor Divya Maharajh:
“Was there any challenge for you when you started teaching?”
“Research Methods is not the most ‘sexy’ course to teach. It’s not like advertising or digital culture … I think students already have this notion that they are taking a course that is required. They have to take it, it’s about research methods—which people don’t really have an interest in—so there was a challenge in terms of how do I make this content come alive in this classroom? How do I make it really accessible to students and something that they can be interested and engaged in? So I think the big challenge was the actual content.”
“How do you want your students to see you?”
“I think I really try to let my students see me as a kind of normal person, not some detached, authority figure in the room but somebody that they feel comfortable coming up to … So I think my approach in the room is to always be very laid back and to make sure they know little things about me. [I] tell them my crazy jokes and anecdotes, just to kind of break the tension in the room … Because it’s content like research methods, you need to sort of infuse it with those moments of informal jokes just to keep people engaged.”
Professor Anil Narine:
“You have used a lots of references from The Simpsons during lecture, is that kind of your teaching philosophy, that you want your lectures to be very light-hearted? “
“I think so, sometimes I say or I hear and I repeat ‘you catch more flies with honey’ which is this idea that one needs to entice their audience to follow them for the whole two hours or hour or whatever it might be, and I think having some easier ways into the discussion is important. In my courses, we look at difficult material often. [We look at] issues of trauma and representation, war and cultural memory … and we talk a lot about consumerism and sometimes that makes people feel fatigued or deluded … so I like to have lighter touches in there. I also think The Simpsons is a very intelligent show. It’s written by some incredible, very educated people who comment on social problems, inequality, gender, even the legal system.”
First Year, Management
“What are you doing there?”
“I’m watching my friend, he is playing tennis right now.”
“Do you like Management? “
“Not really, it’s something that my parents really like. My favourite program is medical.
“Are you going to pursue it?”
“Maybe I will do a double major, both science and management.”
Fourth Year, Sociology and Religion
“After I graduate, I will look for jobs more related to sociology … I am going to continue my photography thing as well.”
“What’s your type of photography?”
“… It’s very broad right now but mostly weddings.”
“What do you like about being a wedding photographer?”
“You just get to see people. You take the photos of the bride, that’s the best part. It’s mostly capturing all the moments you cannot really see … It’s just the little, minor details sometimes we miss.”
First Year, Criminology
“I loved frosh; it just helped me to open up … we had a lot of group activities to get to know each other. We went to downtown, St. George campus, Medieval Times. All these parties we had after Medieval Times was a lot of fun.”
First Year, Life Science
“Are you in any clubs?”
“I haven’t joined anything yet, but I’m interested in the Frisbee club, not a lot of schools have this kind of stuff, so it’s really interesting that they have varieties. And there is basically something for everyone here. I really like that.”
First Year, Political Science
“This is technically my first year. I am actually originally from Ottawa, I only stayed there for a semester.”
“How do you like UTM?“
“I like it, the campus is very beautiful, and I feel more [at] home than I was in Ottawa, because in Ottawa, I was surrounded by tall buildings but here … it’s more like a park area so it feels a lot more friendly.”