My Educational Journey

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By Ashley Emmens

Ashley joined HIEC in the summer of 2020 as a virtual summer student to support the organization’s marketing, communications and public relations. While she was here, Ashley took the time to share her educational journey to date, with some key takeaways that she has learned along the way.  

In high school, I didn’t have much of an idea about what I wanted to do as a career until I took some business courses in Grade 12 and really enjoyed them. I applied to many universities’ commerce programs and I got accepted to a few. However, as the school year continued I realized that I was really struggling with math which would be a huge component of any commerce program. I researched what other programs I could take that were similar but focused more on the “soft” side of business and didn’t require as much math. I landed on the program “Communication Studies.” I learned that this one program could lead to a huge range of potential career paths that I could see myself doing. I also continued to explore my interest in business by taking as many electives as I could in that faculty.

Takeaway: It’s okay to not have a career choice figured out, it’s okay to change your mind, and it’s okay to figure it out as you go.

Something that really contributed to my overall university experience was being involved in extracurriculars. Every extracurricular activity I was involved in helped me gain skills, learn something new, build relationships and networks, and explore my interests. Over my 4 years of university, I was V.P. of Academics for the McMaster Humanities Society, a member of the volunteer outreach team for Student Wellness, participated in the exchange buddy program, was a member of the lacrosse team, joined an intramural soccer team, joined a sorority, and more. However, if you find one specific extracurricular activity that you are really passionate about, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to that one and focusing on it. I considered myself to be quite shy when I began university, so I was definitely nervous about getting involved in these activities. Despite that, I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more grateful that I did. I found a lot of supportive friendships and was able to “break out of my shell” more and more.

Takeaway: Try your best to push yourself outside of your comfort zone – it’s where a lot of learning and growing happens. Get involved in extracurricular activities that fit your interests.

I am proud to say that I have now graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University and will be attending Humber College’s postgraduate program in Public Relations this fall. Like many of you reading this – that means I will be doing online learning in the upcoming school year. Stay tuned for some advice about navigating the world of online learning!



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