They say life is a journey, not a destination. That’s something student Vanessa Thomas has learned first hand.
“When I first started university, right out of high school, I was in Arts and didn't really know what I wanted to do,” she explains. “I took two years off and I now I’m back and I know what I want to do so, I'm taking all the prereqs.”
Prescription for success
For Vanessa, taking the time to figure out what it was she really wants to do has renewed her motivation. Now she has a goal to work toward and she knows she’ll be happy with the resulting career.
“I started working in a pharmacy and I really enjoyed it,” she explains. “I had a pharmacy assistant position and I liked what I was doing. It was interesting. I learned a lot just from working there. And that’s how I realized I want to be a pharmacist.”
Since the Pharmacy program at Dal is a professional program it requires some undergraduate study prior to starting. Vanessa will complete the prerequisites in the fall semester and is hoping her application will be successful so she can join the program next year.
In the meantime, Vanessa has been keeping busy. This summer, she was on campus as a chaperone for the Black Educators Association Math Camp. Offered in partnership with Dalhousie, the programming is coordinated on campus by Dr. Gupta, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
The camp brings together Black students in grades 7 and 8 from around the Halifax Regional Municipality who have been selected by junior high teachers because they show promise in math.
“I did the camp when I was younger,” Vanessa recalls. “You go to class in the morning and do fun activities in the evening. You stay on campus and see what it's like to be at Dal.”
While at Math Camp the students live on campus and learn to apply mathematics to everyday living. As a chaperone, Vanessa stayed in residence with them and participated in their many group outings.
“This is my first year being a chaperone. It's pretty fun and it's good for the kids. We take them on fun activities like to the Discovery Centre and the Oval. They go swimming every day, or to the Dalplex. We also go to the Black Culture Centre and they went bowling one night.”
Finding her own way
When Vanessa thinks back to her first days on campus, she remembers getting lost — a lot — but eventually she got to know the buildings and was able to find her way.
That story is a nice parallel with her university experience as a whole. So, it’s no surprise that when asked if she has any advice for incoming students, Vanessa knows just what to offer: “Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.”
She admits that wasn’t so easy at first, especially when so many students seem to have everything so clearly planned out.
“At first, it was kind of stressful because it seems like everyone you speak to is in a four-year program and they're going to finish in four years and they know what they're going to do. They have a major and you're like, ‘I don't know what I want to do.’ So, that can be stressful,” she recalls. “But then I thought to myself, it doesn't really matter what they're doing, I'm doing my own thing.”
Looking back, she’s glad she made the choices she did. Now she has the confidence and determination required to focus and get the work done.
“I feel like if I didn't take the time off, I wouldn't have known what I wanted to do so I can’t regret those two years off — that was supposed to happen,” she says. “If I'd stayed in school, I would have been unhappy with whatever I'd chosen.
“I think if you're having doubts, you should take some time to think about it. If it requires you to step back a little, that's okay. You have so much time in your life to do what you want to do.”
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