Make the world a better place

Winter 2012

Daniel Hu

Schulich Leader at Queen's University

It’s become rather cliché to speak of “coming of age” — after all, it’s a fact of life that every person grows out of their nest and must find their place in the world. But perhaps what makes it such a relatable archetype is that, in maturing, we gradually open our eyes to the realities of the world around us, to both its wonders and flaws. Certainly for me, the physical experience of my first two months at university has given me an instinctive realisation that “the world is a much larger place” than I had perceived.

While every transition in education level sees concepts becoming advanced and specialised, university introduces a completely new level of independence. Not only is there an end to constant supervision and ubiquitous peer groups, everything we learn is now a direct precursor to our eventual careers (of which I am still completely uncertain!) I had come from a high school experience completely centered around the IB programme, where an essentially exclusive and very close-knit group of 36 students “struggled together” through what we were told was considered a highly advanced elite curriculum. So it's quite ironic to see university courses that are taken by thousands of students cover hugely extended concepts in biology, organic chemistry, and calculus, but just goes to show how much more complex the world is that what we had learned in our little world of IB. Possibly even more ironic was meeting dozens of peers from across Canada who were also IB graduates, driving home the point that the world is much larger, but perhaps not all that different.

The program I’m enrolled in is the general sciences program, with an eye on Life Science. It would be an exaggeration to say that we have yet reached any career-practical knowledge (even in second-year organic chemistry), but it’s clear that the general science concepts I'm learning now are an essential foundation towards a very promising future of innovative research. The biology labs we’re doing this year focus purely on learning the exacting format of academic journals— definitely a preliminary, but important first step into the real world of scientific inquiry, from the infantile paper-crane simulation labs of IB. The marvels, possibilities and importance of life science in the practical world become apparent to me, even if not all the concepts are inherently “fascinating”. By comparison, even linguistics, the subject for which I have the most passion and fascination (and in which I plan to minor), holds as its most practical use&m dash; speech pathology, a branch of life science.

For now though, it is time to once again, gradually build our foundations and savour the newly opened door to university experience. Kingston is definitely very different from Markham — most noticeably ethnically — and the tenfold larger university community has allowed me to already become an executive in three organizations: tutoring committee, alternative children’s math education, and francophone connection. My science courses continue and eventually I hope to help, in the exact (and possibly cliché) words of so many of my old teachers, “make the world a better place”.