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Shaniqwa Thomas: Residence Don Profile

Posted on October 31, 2017  |  Filed under:

"We often forget to forgive and love ourselves when we make mistakes"

Can you tell me a little about how you started working here and what positions you have held?

I started working in the residence through my involvement with the residence council in my first year here at Woodsworth College Residence. That position led me to becoming involved with Woodsworth College Student Association, where I held the position of professional development, Vice-president of Social Affairs, and finally Gala Coordinator. Through these experiences, I developed my skills, then I was able to branch out and obtain a year-long work-study position within the Dean’s Office in the area of Student Development. Assisting with program development enabled me to develop a program called DiversiTea which is currently in it’s third year of running! Working in the Dean’s Office would be a bridging connection to my current position as a Don (resident advisor) within Woodsworth College Residence; it’s almost a symbolic ending to where I started. It’s something I take great pride in!

Following that, can you tell me about different extracurriculars you have been involved in?

Outside of everything listed above, I was a member of the Varsity Blues women’s rugby team for a few years and outside of school I’ve held numerous jobs to help pay for school and keep my student debt low.

You are part of a unique group that fits into three large communities here on campus in that you are a student, an employee and an alumni. What does it mean to you to be a part of these larger groups? How do you engage with them?

It’s an incredible feeling being someone who wears multiple hats/roles, while being a part of these groups. As for me, being a part of these larger groups means finding your balance between them all, as well frequently considering the different aspects of these groups which enables me to actively engage with all these areas, individually and simultaneously. I know I’m an alumnus of Woodsworth College but I think because I’m still living at Woodworth, while studying at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, I really don’t consider myself a part of the alumni yet.  Wearing the different hats has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m privileged to the benefits that come from being an employee and alumni but then I’m also a student and being a student is placed at the forefront when it comes to working. This is another reason I recommend to my students to find on campus jobs because these jobs are more flexible with accommodating a student’s schedule. Also, it can be complicated at times wearing different hats, to separate role one from another. For example, it's hard to just go out and just be Shaniqwa the student, I also must think about myself as an employee of the university. There are moments where I feel a bit constrained between the two but I think that is life and a part of being an adult and an active member of society.

What did you get your undergrad in?

My first four years at the university were spent obtaining a double major degree in political science and equity studies.

Currently, you are pursuing your masters. What are you getting your master's in and how do you want to apply it moving forward?

I personally believe my degrees complement each other. The two fields of my undergraduate degree complement my current studies at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. I am currently in my final year of my masters, in the social justice in education department. I plan on using this degree in combination with my law degree to focus on human rights within our legal system.

What do you think is next for you?

I’m at a place where I’m the embodiment of University of Toronto’s current boundless campaign. I truly am boundless in my options as to what to do next. This is an exciting feeling knowing that after I graduate in June I can go anywhere and do anything! In moving forward, my goal is to write my LSAT and complete my law degree.

Moving backwards a little, what is one of your favourite memories from your time as an undergraduate student?

Mmhm that's a tough one. I think it's my whole first year at the university and living in residence! From orientation week to studying and failing my first midterm to discovering the many pockets and facets of Toronto. I learned so much about myself in that year. I continue to be friends with individuals I met in first year. I’m still closely connected to them, some who’ve gone off to different parts of the world and into different careers.

What is an important lesson you learned during your undergraduate degree?

Love yourself!

School can be very stressful! Going to an elite school sometimes we can get bogged down in the comparison of what someone else is doing that you're not doing and vis versa. We are too focused on obtaining grades that we believe will give us merit to our lives, that we often forget to forgive and love ourselves when we make mistakes. I personally feel some of the anxiety that we as students feel during our undergraduate stems from a lack of self-love and a wanting to get self-validation from those others or from the work we are producing for others.

Do you have any advice for incoming students about life in residence or at Woodsworth?

Be active in our community, even if it's just going to events on your floor. Your residence community and experience has an impact on your transition into University of Toronto, as well as, helping to making this big campus feel smaller, and personal. It will help you to feel connected to the campus and university community.

Do you have any advice for individuals interested in becoming more involved in the University professionally or through extracurriculars?

Know what your goals are and make sure whatever you're interested in doing, does not prevent you from obtaining those goals and vis versa. Establishing clear goals and pursuing your interest will aid you to achieve your goal(s). At the same time find a balance in extracurriculars and school assignments and engaged in self-care activities. Finding a balance at times can be difficult because after all we are still students first!

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