Starting on the Road from a Student to a Scholar

Winter 2012

Jivetesh S. Chhatwal

Schulich Leader at Memorial University

I admit that I still haven't gotten used to being referred to as a "University student" but I know my journey, fueled by the Schulich Leader Scholarship, has begun here at the Memorial University (MUN). Lessons learnt from all the previous chapters of my life will be what I carry over as I discover the new territories on this quest of learning and participation.

The truth is that I was a part-time university student during my Grade 12. Under the "Concurrent Studies" program offered at MUN, I studied 2 first-year Biology courses to get a taste of what was coming next. This experience was abundantly helpful as I had gotten acquainted with the campus, general rules and procedures but most importantly the class structure and study techniques. I knew I could just multiply the work I was putting in then by five (five courses) and expect to do fairly well.

My University orientation did not end with the above mentioned program. During the summer of 2012, I received a SWASP (Student Work and Service Program) placement in the Biochemistry department to work as a Research Assistant for pharmaceutical research. It was a perfect fit for me as my job gave me the hands-on experience in the field of my highest interest.

Next, starting out as a well oriented and financially secure full-time student in September, I noticed that I was making one of the smoothest transitions. I quickly realized that unlike most of my classmates, I don't have a need to work and I can choose to focus all my efforts towards academics and discover extra-curricula that can aid in my personal and professional development.

Thus, in conjunction to making a constant effort to tackle and excel in the courses (while abstaining from caffeine for as long as possible), I have devoted time to healthy living and become deeply involved in several clubs and societies including Engineers Without Borders. As part of one of my commitments, I co-organized a Social Justice Youth Leadership Conference called RADHOC (not an acronym) for 60 Newfoundland and Labrador high-school students, the preparation for which began as early as August. This experience was invaluable as I was leading the way for many students like myself to discover and grow as leaders and act to counter social injustice.

University continues to be the greatest learning experience for all aspects of my life. The freedom that comes as a part and parcel for a university student has taught me the need of balance between rights and responsibilities but the journey has just begun and I feel well-prepared for what is next to come.

(Photo: Me facilitating one of the discussions during the RADHOC YLC)