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.


Jennifer with old roommates


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.


Jennifer wih


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.