You began your Seneca journey as a high school student through the Dual Credit Program. How did you come to learn about Dual Credit? Can you tell us about that first experience?
It was a great experience! I first learned about the dual credit program from my high school guidance counsellor. While I was in Grade 11, they informed me that I could take college credit courses that would count towards my high school diploma and be recognized for postsecondary credit. Since I had spares in my Grade 12 timetable, I decided to participate as it offered me a good introduction to the college environment.
My first dual credit course was Introduction to Business. I really enjoyed it. I was treated like a regular college student so it was a great way to see what college life would be like. More importantly, I had a wonderful professor, Tina Pressman. She herself was an experienced business owner and often complemented course content with personal anecdotes. The lectures were informative but also engaging because she incorporated many hands-on experiences.
The dual credit program was instrumental in preparing me for postsecondary studies. The experience helped me acclimate to the environment, gain some confidence and connect with new peers. I feel this gave me a head start in the Business Administration – Management (BAG) program because I had already established a sense of comfort and familiarity at Seneca.
What factors influenced your decision to pursue the Business Administration - Management advanced diploma at Seneca?
When choosing to become a dual credit student, I chose to complete the credits at Seneca namely because the courses I was interested in were offered at Markham Campus, which was an easy commute from home. While I first chose Seneca for convenience, I stayed because of the experience.
Tina was a great professor and she inspired me to apply to a full-time program. It just made sense. I had already earned two credits in the area of business. I applied to and was accepted into the Business Administration – Human Resources (BHR) program. After completing my first semester, I switched to BAG because it better suited my needs and interests.
Was attaining a degree always part of your educational plan?
When I first began my studies at Seneca, I was committed to completing my advanced diploma and intended to pursue a degree — but later on in life. A colleague of mine, whom I look up to, really encouraged me and helped me to see the value of doing a degree program immediately following my diploma. I have a great support network — my professors, my family, my team at the Academic Pathways where I work part time – that helped to make it a smooth transition. Once, you make a choice and commit yourself to it, the universe has a way of aligning your vision with reality.
When I look back, I remember looking at the degree as being two extra years of schooling. It felt like a significant amount of time. However, in retrospect, it has taken no time at all! I will be entering my final semester in January and rather than thinking in terms of time, I now see this journey as a collection of learning opportunities on an axis of personal growth.
How did you decide which degree program to pursue?
I wanted to continue studies in business. In addition, when comparing the Seneca diploma to Seneca degree pathways, I determined that I would receive the most number of transfer credits into the Honours Bachelor of Commerce – Business Management (BBM) program. This meant that I could complete my degree in only four semesters.
It was an easy choice to stay at Seneca. I wanted to build upon the learning I had already achieved and the relationships I had established with professors and peers. Additionally, I have maintained a part-time position with the Academic Pathways since September 2016. It has been a wonderful work-study opportunity that has not only helped me gain valuable work experience but also fund my studies.
How would you describe the degree pathway process?
It was very simple. During my last semester, I met with the Program Co-ordinator for the BBM program. They reviewed the block transfer chart with me so that I could understand the number of transfer credits I would be granted and see which courses I would need to complete in order to obtain the degree.
One week later, I submitted the Diploma to Seneca Degree Transfer form and received a conditional offer soon after that. Once I completed my final semester in the BAG program and graduated, I received my acceptance email in early July.
How would you describe your overall experience at Seneca so far?
It has been rewarding. Aside from the learning, being able to work on campus while completing my studies has been a great way for me to engage in the Seneca community, make connections and be able to grow my professional repertoire.
The postsecondary journey is a formative time in our lives. As an introvert, I have seen my own personal growth over the years. I am much more confident in my skills and abilities. Seneca is unique in that its campuses are so diverse. Students come from all over the world. My peers have exposed me to different cultures, philosophies and approaches to solving problems. This has helped to broaden my horizons. I now examine things more critically and consider different perspectives. I have also made many new friends, some of whom I know will be lifelong.
How did your Seneca diploma prepare you for your degree program?
My diploma program provided many hands-on experiences through group work, computer labs and projects that challenged me to apply the knowledge I learned in real-world contexts. This also helped me succeed in my part-time position with the Academic Pathways.
I felt well prepared for the degree program and it was a smooth transition. During my diploma, I focused on developing strong organization and time management skills. These have carried over to help me manage my different responsibilities now. As well, having the practical knowledge acquired through my diploma helped me better understand the theoretical approaches taught in the degree.
What are you up to now?
In addition to my studies, I have been working as a Student Ambassador for the Academic Pathways since 2016. This term, I am completing my work-integrated learning placement there also. Being a part of the team on a full-time basis and working in a different capacity has been really enlightening and rewarding.
In January, I will be entering the final semester of my degree program.
I also volunteer at my younger brother’s school, spend time with family and friends and allocate time every week towards my hobbies — cake decorating and crafts. Life is too short to spend it on studying alone. Live it to the fullest and make sure you are making time to pursue interests you enjoy.
From experience, what do you think the value of having a diploma and a bachelor’s degree is?
Aside from the practical and theoretical learning, fostering meaningful relationships and building my network has been valuable. I have met incredible people over the past four years. As a result, I have been able to leverage opportunities and access new experiences that I may have otherwise not.
For example, in 2018, I contributed to a student-led project sponsored by eCampusOntario and the Student Experience Design (SXD) Lab. My team sought to address what methods would help facilitate student access to information about the transfer process in a timely manner. We had the opportunity to present our recommendations to the Ontario Council of Articulation and Transfer.
I have really come to value my education and see each step and experience as a building block that leads to further growth.
What are your plans for the future — short term and long term?
My immediate goal is to complete my degree and secure full-time employment in an area of work that best aligns with my skills and education.
In the long term, I hope to be able to travel twice a year. My family emigrated from Siberia in 2008 but one day, I hope to work with Gazprom, a global energy company that is headquartered in Moscow, Russia.