The Faculty of Science has undergraduate programs in Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Financial Mathematics, Mathematics, and Medical Physics. In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with and interview some other students studying science at Ryerson.
David is a 2nd year Computer Science student who grew up in in Maple, Ontario which is north of Toronto. He started attending an advance placement program in grade 5 which resulted in a change in schools and long bus ride every day until the end of high school. He moved to Toronto the summer before starting his first year at Ryerson.
When I asked David how he decided what he would study at university he said he is still unsure of what he wants to do with his future. The program that he chose here is very general and he is not sure in what area of computer science he will end up focusing. He took computer science in high school and decided in grade 11 that this was the field he would study at university. He said he specifically chose computer science over computer engineering, which is a another program offered in our engineering faculty. Now I had to reveal my ignorance and ask him to explain to me what the difference is between these two fields. He said he couldn’t even answer my question very well…but he did his best to explain it to me and in my own research after we talked I found these two explanations that helped me understand.
Computer science is an umbrella term which encompassed four major areas of computing: theory, algorithms, programming languages, and architecture. Computer Engineering typically focuses specially on computer hardware and software. It is an integration of computer science and electrical engineering.
Computer Engineers are electrical engineers who specialize in software design, hardware design or systems design that integrates both. Computer Science is the study of how data and instructions are processed, stored, and communicated by computing devices.
David chose to study computer science because he always enjoyed science and liked computers. I next asked him why he chose Ryerson because lots of universities offer degree programs focused on computers. He was very thorough in his research. He applied to nine universities and did eight university tours during grade eleven and twelve, and was accepted to all of the universities to which he applied. David shared with me that he did not have a great experience in high school, we did not get into details but it was clear to me that he was very focused on what would came after high school because it was not a place that was good for him. In making his choice about where he felt he would fit in best, he actually toured Ryerson 4 times before making his final decision. He worked downtown, so coming here, spending lots of time on the Ryerson campus, and getting a good feel for it was relatively easy for him but also a really important process to ensure that this was going to be a place where he could find a home.
He ultimately chose Ryerson because he loves being in downtown Toronto and near all that it offers in terms of activities and access to technology firms. He was also looking for a more hands on approach to his educational experience which he could see was a feature of the Ryerson experience. David was committed to getting involved right away. He participated in the whole Orientation week, arriving bright and early each day. He wanted his university experience to be better than his high school experience and he invested a lot of energy into making sure that it was better. He also joined the Computer Science course union in his first year. He wanted to find a place where people were open and welcoming and where new students felt safe to be themselves without facing judgement. I was so happy to hear that he found this at Ryerson. He did however acknowledge that there is still work to be done to make our community equitable and inclusive. He is dedicated to these principles and is happy to have found a school where these values are alive. He talked about seeing bright eye catching posters around campus just this past February about consent that reminded him about the values that the institution continues to strive to promote in its community.
David has also been working at the front reception desk at Student Learning Support on the 4th floor of the Student Learning Centre since his first weeks on campus including throughout the last summer. He spoke so highly of the full-time staff that he works with there, which was wonderful to hear. He was involved in planning orientation activities for new science students this past fall. Even though he has really enjoyed helping students he may look for a summer job this year that is more related to his field of study. He is taking his time to work through his program by taking 4 courses a term so he can perform at his best academically, engage with the all opportunities offered by the institution and enjoy his experience. He has lots he still wants to do including getting more involved in advancing issues of equity in the field of science. He hopes to run for an executive position in the Ryerson Science Society next year and to work in the Sci-Xchange office (the newly rebranded Science Outreach and Enrichment Office).
I asked him how his friends would describe him. I was not really surprised, given everything that he has committed to in addition to his school work, when he said his friends would say he needs to put himself before others and focus on his own self-care and well-being. They would also say he is hardworking, responsible, helpful and dedicated. He has high expectations of people and of himself. He is clearly dedicated to doing his very best both in his school work and in his various activities on campus.
I really enjoyed meeting David – he is one of my favourite kinds of students – someone who has actively sought out ways to get involved early on. He fully joined this community by attending all of orientation and finding a job on campus from his very first day here. He is just approaching the end of his second year and still has so much to do and contribute as a student leader in the coming years. He is still trying to determine what he wants to do specifically in his field of study/work but he has two to three more years to figure that out as well. He knows for sure that whatever it turns out to be he wants to continue working closely with other people in a team based environment.
I suspect I will cross paths with David again since he is so dedicated to being increasingly involved as a student leader in his final years at Ryerson.