by guest blogger Karen Espinola, Transition and Events Assistant with Student Life Programs
When I accepted my offer for Creative Industries, I knew my transition from high school was going to be strenuous. After spending 17 years in the comfort of my hometown, Ajax, I was overwhelmed by the complexities that came with going to school in the city.
As a first generation student, the first few months proved to be a huge learning curve. Though my parents were supportive, they weren’t the best resource for understanding the logistics of university life. They couldn’t help me do course intentions on RAMSS or navigate through Kerr Hall. Because of this isolation, it became increasingly difficult for me to ask for help from the new Ryerson community I had found myself in.
My orientation experience taught me the significance of getting involved with Ryerson Student Life, a department of Ryerson Student Affairs, and about the opportunities that Ryerson had for first year students. The Tri-Mentoring Program (TMP) presented itself as a great opportunity to get involved and feel more comfortable in my new environment. But, even though I realized that TMP would be a great place for me to start my integration, I was stubborn, and I thought asking for help would be like admitting weakness. So, I didn’t.
Weeks passed, and I began to think the opportunity to become a mentee with TMP had passed as well. I read and promptly ignored most emails that came my way. They caused me more stress as I thought about having to go to the TMP Welcome Party and socialize with the other students.
I continued with my regularly scheduled classes into second semester of first year, and eventually became less disconnected with the people around me. I realized that a large part of my comfort was knowing the familiar faces I’d met during orientation. When the opportunity arose in mid-January, I applied to become an orientation group leader. For the past three years, participating in orientation has helped me build a strong community of friends and mentors at Ryerson. In my own way, I figured out how to develop myself personally to become the person I wish I was during those first few months wandering aimlessly around Kerr Hall.
The advice that I give to first year students at Orientation is to get involved early. Getting involved has shaped my time at Ryerson for the better – it’s opened doors to opportunities I didn’t know existed on and off campus. Despite being a commuter until my final year at Ryerson, I became a part of a close-knit community. The sense of belonging that I now feel on campus is one of my proudest accomplishments during my four years at Ryerson. Ryerson Student Affairs provides so many resources for you to build your own path at Ryerson and make your time here worthwhile.
My story has come full-circle now that I’ll be working for Student Life during my final year. I may have had a rocky start, but knowing that I can help create the resources that would have helped me during those first few weeks at Ryerson is extremely fulfilling.
Karen Espinola, 4th year Creative Industries student specializing in Communication Studies and Storytelling in Media. An avid volunteer in the Ryerson community and passionate Rams fan. I spend my free time yelling at my tv when sports are on and snapchatting my life away.