“Be open to all the things you’re going to learn here,” suggests 2018 Faculty of Arts valedictorian Ben Froese. “Be open to all the ways you’re going to be challenged and you’re actually going to really grow. Even though it might feel really daunting right now.”
Starting university is a big step, and it’s normal to be nervous. To help make the transition smoother, we connected with our latest roster of Valedictorians to ask them what words of wisdom they would offer their freshman selves and, in turn, new students arriving on campus this fall.
Evan Choy, 2018 School of Business & Economics valedictorian, offers his words of wisdom for new students to get the most out of their education:
“Give 120 percent in everything you do. It might be a project, a meeting, an info session the university is hosting, or it might be a guest lecture. Get out there and learn as much as you can. Because the things you learn, the technical aspects of school, it’s all about what shapes you as a person.
“Be open-minded and don’t pay too much attention to what other people think of you, or what they say about you. At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you want to do in life. There are so many people out there with so much potential, but they have to clear out the noise to get where they want to go.
“Be competitive, but understand where you are at every step in your journey. Appreciate where you’re at, and enjoy the journey, instead of focusing solely on the outcome.”
Anastasia Silina, 2018 Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism Management valedictorian, has insights for new international students:
“Get a day planner right away and actually use it. I didn’t get mine until my second year, and first year was already stressful enough because I was just getting used to living here. Once I got one, it all got easier because I could see my deadlines ahead of time and how much time I had.
“Try to have a good school-life balance. Student events help you to unwind from classes and exams, and they’re a good way to meet people. Don’t procrastinate, although that’s easier said than done. Every semester I told myself I wouldn’t leave everything until the last moment, but it never happened. I got good grades at the end, but it was very tough because I procrastinated so much.
“The international student orientation week on campus helped me a lot when I first came to TRU, because you meet so many people at the events. You meet advisors who help you, and you don’t feel like you came to another country and you’re all by yourself. It’s very welcoming in that sense, it’s very helpful.”
Lavraj Lidher, 2018 Faculty of Science valedictorian, has some advice for new students interested in pursuing research opportunities:
“The research opportunities here are essentially limitless. I got my hands on some pretty sophisticated instrumentation that I wouldn’t get at another university until I did a master’s or even a PhD. But at TRU, I got to use those tools as an undergrad.
“Small classes mean you get to know your professors on a first-name basis, and you get to interact with your faculty as close as possible. Once you build those connections and talk about research with them, they’ll offer the available tools.
“I knew I wanted to do an honours program, but I also wanted to do research over the summer. I talked to one of my professors and he had an NSERC grant, and when I applied, I got it. So that really got the ball rolling for my research career. Later on, I got a position as an undergraduate research ambassador helping fellow students with their UREAP applications, and this summer I got another NSERC grant to continue on my research.”
Steven Shergill, 2018 TRU Law valedictorian, gives some suggestions for students considering law school:
“When I was completing my undergraduate degree, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I used those years to put law on the back burner and to look at other options, to see whether law was right for me. After two years, I still didn’t know it was the right option. But I took a leap of faith and started studying for my LSAT.
“It’s rare to know what you want to do, or maybe you think you know. I knew I didn’t know, and I was just taking a leap of faith. I’m glad I trusted my gut instinct because it’s worked out so far. I’ve really enjoyed the program and I’m really excited to start working.
“My advice for students considering coming to law school is to not only get the good grades and get a good LSAT score, but just importantly is volunteering and building those extra-curriculars on your resumé. And doing something you’re passionate about, and sticking to that. Law schools really want to see commitment in future lawyers.”
Rebecca Peters, 2018 School of Trades and Technology valedictorian, offers her words of wisdom to new students considering changing their path:
“If you’re not happy, it’s never too late to change, and you can always go back.
“I was told that I couldn’t do things and I listened, and I shouldn’t have. Because it set me back in my education. I could have been further into my heavy-duty career as opposed to taking two and a half years in the business program. Even though I knew it wasn’t for me, I felt like I should be there, which is why I stayed for so long.
“It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, as long as you’re happy, right?”
Ben Froese, 2018 Faculty of Arts valedictorian, has tips for new students feeling anxious about starting university:
“When you come to university, you might always be looking forward to, and dreaming about, what life will be like after university—after you get that job you want or after you reach that step in life. But after you’re done at university you might look back and think, ‘Wow, I wish I was in university again.’
“Being at university is such a unique experience, it’s such a unique season of life. So if sometimes you feel like you don’t want to be here, I would encourage you that to know that this is a really special time in your life. Just really try to make the most of it, and have a positive attitude.”