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#UofTGrad17: Bethany Smith

Bethany Smith's love for music was why she decided to add a minor in Music and Culture to her double major despite not needing the extra courses for her degree.

Though she was only 16 when she came to U of T Scarborough, Bethany Smith soon found her place in Student Housing and Residence Life, and on the third floor of the Arts and Administration building.

Her age did not stop her from continuing in the footsteps of her favourite high school teachers, who both attended U of T and were influential in her choice to pursue a double major in Human Biology and Chemistry, and minor in Music and Culture.

Her passion for learning and science was fuelled from an early age when her mother would allow Smith to conduct experiments with her.

“My mom—who has a degree in chemistry—used to spend time designing experiments I could learn from,” says Smith.

Being away from home wasn't always easy, but she found her new home in Residence, where she served on the Residence Life Team as a Residence Advisor.

“Residence eventually went from being a scary, lonely place to my new home. Once it became home there was no looking back,” she says.

Where did you go to high school?

I attended high school at Waterdown District High School in Waterdown [Ontario]. 

Why did you come to U of T Scarborough?

My two favourite teachers in high school both attended the University of Toronto. They were the most caring and devoted teachers that I had the privilege of studying under and I really admired them both. Both of these individuals spoke very highly of the school, the studies and their experiences attending this highly esteemed school. I soon fell in love with the compact, close-knit environment of the Scarborough campus.

Why did you choose your program?

I’ve always loved learning. When I was little I would get so upset when the school year finished because I had to spend the entire summer without school. To appease me, my mom and dad used to buy me a new book every summer to spend my time learning from. I can remember a book on birds, one on insects, one on plants and there were many more. Spending my summers out in nature learning all I could from these books piqued my interest in various fields of biology from a very young age.

I owe my fascination of the hard sciences and my decision of both my Chemistry and Human Biology majors to these childhood experiences. The more I studied these fields at UTSC the more my interest has grown and ultimately influenced my choices towards a future career in the medical field.

My love of music performance has developed over many years of childhood spent learning to sing and play various instruments. Since the day I started, music has been my outlet when I’m stressed. In the midst of countless lab reports, term papers and exams, making sure to keep music in my life has gotten me through every day, no matter how tough. 

What was your favourite class? Why?

My favourite science class was CHMC47: Bioorganic Chemistry with Dr. Lana Mikhaylichenko. This was when chemistry really clicked for me and I felt like this class really connected my two majors. Dr. Mikhaylichenko was very approachable and always made the material interesting and relatable.

My favourite music class was VPMB95: Elementary Musicianship II with Professor Lenard Whiting. This class was very small, only eight people the year I took it so we got a lot of individual attention from the professor. Having a much smaller class environment gave us the opportunity to become a very close-knit group which helped to create a very positive learning environment. 

What’s the best-kept secret on campus?

The best-kept secret on campus is the music floor of the Arts and Administration building. Although it’s not really a secret, it’s quite often overlooked. Even going into my fourth year, many of my friends had never been there and didn’t know what 3rd floor had to offer. There are practice rooms there that you can book out for a quiet space to work on your music and there’s a spacious studio that students can use for all sorts of studying and hanging out when no classes are using the room. This floor is also home to many spaces used for studio arts and other art programs, and you can often find works of art designed by UTSC students lining the hallways. If you wander the hallways of this wonderful floor you are bound to run into some of the best people I’ve met here at UTSC.

Where do you feel most at home on campus?

The place I feel most at home on campus is Residence. I have lived in Residence all four years at UTSC. It is easy to feel welcome there when you make the space around you and when you love and respect the people around you. No matter how far away my family is, I have always had a home right there on campus. 

What should every student do before graduating?

Make a friend that doesn’t make any sense for you. Maybe this person is not in your program or any of your classes. Find someone you have nothing in common with and befriend them. Surprise yourself with how much you can learn from someone who is so completely different from you. One of my closest friends on campus I met by complete coincidence and had very little in common with. It still surprises me how much common ground we could find despite being such different people. 

What made you want to become a part of the Residence Life Team?

I live far from Toronto so commuting from home was never really an option for me. I had a rough time my first year but once it became home there was no looking back. I was inspired to join the Residence Life Team by my Residence Advisor in my second year who really started helping make Residence my home. She encouraged me to get more involved in my Residence community and inspired me by how supportive and caring she was towards each and every student. She was such an important role model for me that year and I wanted the opportunity to make that kind of impression in other students’ lives.

What is your favourite memory of Residence?

My favourite memory is from the beginning of my second year. I was responsible for making decorations for an event put on by a club I was a part of and I was running late with no ideas on what kind of decorations to make. One of my new roommates taught me how to make paper snowflakes and then spent the night helping me make hundreds of them. I already knew her pretty well already in this semester but somewhere in our time spent making paper snowflakes, I figured out that she would be my best friend. And she still is. 

What’s next?

 I have been accepted to a couple different Respiratory Therapy programs for this fall. After completing this program I hope to gain experience in a critical care setting before applying to programs in Cardiovascular Perfusion, which is my end goal later down the road. I am very excited to embark on this next chapter of my life and I am curious to see where this new journey will take me. 

If we call you up in five years, where do you think we will find you?

If you call me up in five years I hope you find me working as a Respiratory Therapist in Pediatrics and Neonatal at Sick Kids Hospital.

 

To read about more of the class of 2017 graduates click here




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