April 12, 2019
I nearly left university twice
Waterloo city councillor Jennifer Vasic (BA '06) reflects on the values and relationships that guided her through her undergraduate degree.
Waterloo city councillor Jennifer Vasic (BA '06) reflects on the values and relationships that guided her through her undergraduate degree.By Jennifer Vasic (BA ’06) Alumnus
I nearly left university twice.
It wasn’t because I was lonely.
I had a great group of friends who I remain close with to this day. I also have extended family in town.
It wasn’t because of my marks. I was doing well in that regard.
It wasn’t because of money. I don’t come from an affluent background, but one that is comfortably mostly working class, and fortunately I had financial support from my parents to pursue my undergraduate education.
I was struggling with my fit in the academic world, though. I can’t say exactly why. It might be that I don’t come from an academic background. Maybe it’s that I’m most comfortable doing practical tasks and work. Perhaps I was longing to pursue something more creative. At one point I wanted to work as a journalist. At another, I was looking into interior design as a profession. Of course, there is never one reason why we consider alternatives or make particular decisions, like leaving university.
The first time I seriously thought about leaving was after first year. I had moved back home for the summer and was offered an apprenticeship to become a hairstylist. I opted against this option because I felt pulled back to Waterloo.
The second time was in third year. In the end, I felt like I was too close to the finish line to leave and my mom helped me come up with a plan to stick it out. A key part of this plan was getting involved in the community. That’s when I started volunteering at Grand River Hospital with people living with cancer and their families.
I have since graduated from my undergrad at UWaterloo where I majored in political science and history, and completed a Masters of Social Work at the University of Toronto with the intention of working in palliative care and oncology. However, I learned that community development is where I fit better. I’m working towards a PhD in social work where I still, on and off, feel like an imposter. But recently, I was elected as a city councillor in the city of Waterloo.
This is all to say that I don’t believe there is one right decision or a linear path. Rather, I move through the world guided by a particular set of values and by listening to intuition, as one form of evidence.
Jennifer Vasic is a city councillor in the city of Waterloo. She is an award-winning researcher, social worker and volunteer who has directly supported and advocated for children, youth and families as a social worker. She strives to understand social issues in order to drive change and impact lives.