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Changing course

Thursday, January 7, 2021

A year into his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance, Jonathan Lucki felt pulled in an unexpected direction. “My whole life, I had plans to be an accountant,” he remembered. "I ended up enrolling in the Math/Business Accounting program within the Faculty of Mathematics. But even before university, math had become my favourite subject in school and I found myself writing computer programs in my spare time for fun."

After a great deal of thought, the Toronto native had a difficult choice to make. “I realized that I wanted to take more of the math and computer science classes I found so interesting, but changing course would throw all of my plans out the window, which was a scary thought,” he acknowledged. “In the end, I went for it and haven’t looked back.”

Lucki has thrived since he made the switch to a major in Computer Science with a minor in Economics. He marvels at the wide range of skills he’s building at the Faculty of Mathematics. “We go so in-depth in every class,” he stressed. "The range of topics we learn spans from mathematical theory of computation to developing real software,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed learning the coding and theoretical underpinnings and then getting to put that knowledge to work in my co-op terms."

Lucki’s co-op experience took the form of four-month stints at Prodigy Education, a fast-growing e-learning startup, and Loblaw Digital, Canada’s largest food retailer. At Prodigy Education, Lucki leveraged his technical skills to improve the company’s membership payment system. Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, he started his second co-op term at Loblaw Digital, where he worked as a back-end developer for online grocery services. “My work at Loblaw turned out to be quite important and timely because of the pandemic,” he affirmed.

After switching programs, Lucki channeled his growing passion for math into supporting the Faculty as a Mathematics Faculty Ambassador and Orientation leader. “When you love something, it’s so much easier to be involved in it,” he explained. “People fly in from all over the world to visit Waterloo, and I have the opportunity to represent the gold standard for math in North America. I love talking about this Faculty and how proud I am to be a part of it.”

Lucki is far too aware of all the doors open to him after graduation to choose a path right now. “With the skills I’ve developed in classes and in my co-op terms, I could get a software engineering job, I could go to grad school, or I could even create my own tech startup,” he said. “I took a major leap of faith to change programs, but it was well worth it. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.”

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