What Drives You

What Drives You
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By Zaid Noorsumar

Jay Shaud
Social Work Student
Ashtonbee Campus

For 20-year old Jordan Murray, the desire to help people is his motivation for acquiring a diploma in social work.

“I want to help people, sort of like a hobby of mine. All my friends will come to me for advice,” Jay says. “It ranges from family issues to relationship issues. I’ve been doing it since middle school. They call me Dr. Phil.”

After a false start studying early childhood learning and unsatisfactory experiences working retail jobs (“I didn’t like taking orders from bosses”), Jordan decided to become a career practitioner after being inspired by one during a youth employment program.

Hailing from the troubled Jane and Finch neighbourhood – which he sees struggling from lack of resources and social programs – is another motivating factor in his decision as he wants to help his community.

Jordan, who admits to conspiratorial tendencies, says he doesn’t want to tread down the typical path of finishing school, getting married, having children and paying bills – the life that he believes the government wants one to have. He says he wants to continue learning new skills including barbering, and that he wants to “go back to school endlessly.”

Ray Blackman
Social Work Student
Ashtonbee Campus

Ray Blackman, 28, came to Canada as a refugee in 2014. The discrimination that he faced as part of the LGBTQ community in Barbados – where homosexual acts are illegal – compelled him to move to a safer environment.

According to Ray, the pervasive bigotry in his native country cuts across various facets of life, including the job market and the domestic sphere, where his lifestyle was not easily accepted by his Christian family.

“It was not an easy road for me. One thing I can say is that I was committed to myself,” Ray says. “I know myself…and regardless of whether people like it or not, I remained who I was.” However, life in Canada hasn’t provided a complete departure from intolerance.

Ray says that his experience with NGOs that were supposed to help him settle into the country has been marred with negative experiences. Amongst other problems that he has encountered, Ray says that an influential person at an NGO asked him for sexual favors in return for their help. The marginalization that he has faced in his life has inspired Ray to get a social work diploma and help people in his community. He is particularly interested in mental health and addiction.

Emilia Gallo
Arts Management Student
Story Arts Centre Campus

The world of arts holds a special charm for Emilia Gallo, 25, who completed her bachelor’s in contemporary dance at Concordia University in Montreal. After working as a flight attendant, moving to Toronto, and getting “sucked into a completely different world,” she realized she missed the arts before enrolling in Centennial’s Arts Management program.

Within the broad spectrum of the field, Emilia is focused on the performing arts. Her passion is rooted in her own experiences as a performer though she is now comfortable staying within the realm of management. The shift in direction from performer to a behind-the-scenes role was in part inspired by the promise of greater job security and a steadier income. “I love dancing but I don’t really have the passion or the drive to do it full-time,” Emilia says. “I don’t want to travel with a company or just be working contract to contract – it takes away from the fun.”

“I still want to work with artistic people and I still love the arts,” she says. “I just think like this (arts management) is where I have always kind of needed to be.”

Erin Boylan
Pre-Health Science Student
Morningside Campus

Erin Boylan, 18, plans to be a paramedic after finishing her Pre-Health Sciences program at the Ashtonbee campus.

“I like anatomy, I like the body and I like fast-paced work,” Erin says. “I am upbeat and I talk a lot, and I can’t sit at the desk all day long.”

She realizes that paramedic work can be stressful but says she thrives on working in duress.

“I handle stress really well. Like I just study all the time until I get the grade that I need to,” she says. “They (good grades) don’t come easy. So stress just motivates me, like I’m always stressed out. It gets me out in the morning and makes me finish my assignments.”

Erin, who had earlier considered studying construction or social work, eventually decided to be a paramedic as that appealed to her the most. However, she has pegged nursing as a fall-back option as she says it’s difficult to get into a paramedics program.

Arianna Behan

3D animation Student
Story Arts Centre

Arianna Behan, 28, is approaching her 3D animation coursework with an open mind.

She likes the broad scope of the program at Centennial, which allows students to learn about different aspects of animation, and provides them the opportunity to explore what they can excel at.

“I don’t have an extremely clear idea (of what I want to pursuit within 3D animation). That’s not the kind of person I am,” Arianna says. “I go with the flow and see what happens. There’s still so much I don’t know (about animation).”

For Arianna, who is back in school after getting tired of working as a server for several years, choosing the 3D animation program was a practical choice. She obtained a Fine Arts degree from OCAD in 2011, but acknowledges that it’s tricky to find work as an artist. Animation offers a better chance of acquiring paid work while remaining in a creative field. But importantly, Arianna feels that she is more suited to animation than fine arts.


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