PhD Candidate, Information
“This is truly a knowledge-rich environment.”
The latter portion of my undergraduate experience at the University of Toronto was extremely fulfilling. The guidance, support, and encouragement I received through my colleagues in the Aboriginal Studies department helped me develop a sense of confidence in my capabilities, and informed the academic trajectory I hoped to pursue.
Having a fairly good sense of the type of research/advocacy path I wanted to pursue meant situating myself in a diverse urban environment with access to a number of essential services. The reputation and calibre of scholarship at U of T is representative of a community I wanted to be a part of.
The iSchool [Faculty of Information] certainly stood apart from the other competitive graduate programs I considered, both through its rigour in the field of critical information studies, as well as the work of a number of iSchool scholars I had already become familiar with. That level of scholarship, coupled with U of T’s impressive funding record, demonstrated to me that my talents would have the best chance of flourishing in this environment.
The most notable highlight of my experience has been the encouragement I’ve received through colleagues at the iSchool. Beginning a graduate program can be a very intimidating experience, whether you’re fresh out of an undergraduate program or returning to studies after a long absence. There’s a collaborative spirit here that welcomes new ideas and helps individuals find their academic voices.
I’m immeasurably grateful for the range of intersecting scholarship I’ve been exposed to in my time at the iSchool; it has helped to strengthen my skills as a critical scholar while providing depth to my own research efforts.
This is truly a knowledge-rich environment, one that encourages enthusiasm and reciprocal learning. As much as I’ve gained in my time as a graduate student, I’ve also been able to give back to the U of T community through TA opportunities, participation in student-driven programming, and interaction with some of the most relevant thinkers in my field.
Take the time to research your field of interest, meet with representatives of the Faculty you are interested in, and ask questions! Attend the student-led events regularly happening on campus and ask more questions! Getting a sense of the culture of the school is as important as its scholarly reputation. Often, the best way to gain this insight is to simply talk to people. It’s a big, imposing community of many personalities. Finding a peer group with whom to share your passion, your intellectual stimulus, and even your gripes is a necessity.
I’ve found a wealth of financial, academic, and peer support resources available to me through my Faculty, SGS, and the GSU [Graduate Students’ Union]. In my case, I was easily able to find information on the childcare and family health-care options I needed as a graduate student.
Coupled with my extensive work in public policy and government relations, my goal is to realize policy initiatives at the municipal level. I believe I’ll be able to provide thoughtful consultation to local governments looking towards progressive technology access programs.
Above all, I’m grateful for opportunities I’ve had to see my passion for advocacy transformed into relevant, critical research output.
*Michel’s profile was created while he was pursuing a master’s degree. He received a Canada Graduate Scholarship – SSHRC and Grace Buller Aboriginal Student Scholarship (Ontario Library Association).