The route to post-secondary education isn’t the same for everyone, especially when it comes to graduate studies. I met Jaydum Hunt at a meeting for work, and she really caught my attention when she happened to mention that she would be entering a master’s program as a mature student this fall. In my experience, conversations about education don’t often involve mature students. While I know that Waterloo has a mature student population, I haven’t heard a lot from those students’ perspectives. I reached out to Jaydum to find out about her experience entering the University of Waterloo as a mature student. What I learned from our conversation inspired me to truly embrace opportunities for learning and take chances when I want to make changes in life.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your educational history.
Jaydum: I am an Indigenous woman who lives in Waterloo, and my family is Mohawk Six Nations Bay of Quinte. When I was in high school, I was not a very good student; however, I still took the academic courses necessary to be able to attend a post-secondary institution if I chose to. This was not an expectation in my family, and I was the first on both sides to receive a degree. It is hard to believe, but this will be my fourth time entering a post-secondary program. The first program I entered was an introduction to performing arts, the second was one to become a Registered Massage Therapist, and the third was my undergrad in Social Development Studies here at UWaterloo.
Q: What inspired you to go back to school as a mature student? What program will you be entering at UWaterloo this fall?
Jaydum: I have always loved learning, and after nine years of being a Registered Massage Therapist, I felt that I wanted a change. I was inspired to go back for the love of learning and to increase my income bracket so I can provide a better life for myself and my two daughters. I always knew that after getting my undergrad I wanted to do more schooling, and when I found out about a research project that involves Indigenous people, I decided to apply to UWaterloo. I was accepted into the master’s program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
Q: What excites you about your program and going back to school?
Jaydum: What excites me about my program and going back to school is the research project that my supervisor and my previous boss have taken the lead on. It involves looking at Indigenous people in the workplace, and I look forward to the opportunity to work on helping my people.
Q: How did you prepare to apply, and how have you prepared for the fall term?
Jaydum: In all honesty, I did not do a lot to prepare to apply; the Director at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre asked if I had ever considered grad school, and I went from there. I have prepared for the fall term by talking to other grad students and trying to get a grasp on the way things will change when I am in grad school. I am also reading some articles and writing “thought papers” for my supervisor to look over to make sure my writing is what it should be for the master’s level.
Q: Have you used any campus resources to help you get to where you are?
Jaydum: When it comes to campus resources, I have mainly accessed the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre. As an Indigenous person and student, I do find that this support on campus is huge for me.
Q: Why is it important to you to share your story? Why should others go back to school as mature students?
Jaydum: It is important to me to share my story because for some reason, our society has this misconception that you cannot go back to school if you are old. I do not feel as though I am old at 33 years old, and I also believe that anyone can elevate their knowledge and academic level at any time. It is important to me that people in society know that if they are unhappy with their career and have the desire to go to a post-secondary institution, it is a possibility. The way that people understand this is by seeing other people like them doing it. I am excited to go back for my master’s, and I can only hope to inspire more mature students to do the same.