August 16, 2018 - 3:30pm
Five VIU Global Studies graduates and former VIU Professor Dr. Catherine Schittecatte gathered this summer to share about life after university.
After graduating from Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Global Studies (GLST) program, Richard Kulesza wentonto complete his law degree at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie and is nowa Policy Analyst for the Government of Canada in Ottawa. He works on the Reconciliation and Relationships team in the First Nations Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada. He credits much of his success to the education he received during his undergraduate studies at VIU.
“Global Studies was an excellent basis for everything I’ve done moving forwards,” he says. “I've grown a bit of a reputation to be adaptable to just about any file that's thrown my way, and I strongly believe the diversity in my education is a major piece of that.”
The GLST program examines the influence of globalization from a multidisciplinary perspective, connecting to various academic disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, political studies, and sociology. Teachers encourage students to take a critical approach at examining in-depth and complex issues of the increasingly interdependent world landscape.
“Global studies students are trained to be flexible, creative, and thorough thinkers, and to see knowledge as built through a collaborative enterprise of bringing people, ideas, and experiences into dialogue,” says Laura Suski, VIU Chair of Global Studies.
The dialogue at VIU is an intimate conversation. Due to the small class sizes, Kulesza felt he was a name, not a number in the system, and developed a personal connection with numerous professors. A smaller university also gave more opportunities to become involved at higher levels in various clubs.
“The collaborative feeling I had with my fellow students also really helped push me along and develop academically, and I remain connected to many of them to this day,” he says.
This summer, Dr. Catherine Schittecatte, former VIU Professor and GLST Program Chair, brought together Kulesza and four other GLST graduates in Ottawa to share about their lives after university. Four of them are working in sectors of the Government of Canada, and one is completing her graduate studies.
While studying at VIU, Shantel Beute spent six months with the Dawei Pro-Bono Lawyers Network, a firm located in southern Myanmar, which advocates on behalf of people dealing with environmental injustices. She has started her Masters at the University of Ottawa, and intends to return to Myanmar for her Master’s thesis.
VIU encourages and supports students to apply their knowledge and develop skills through international experiences such as work study abroad, internships with governmental, non-governmental, and private organizations engaged in international development work.
“Students who take up the challenge to live and learn in another country are rewarded with an expanded worldview,” says Elizabeth Brimacombe, VIU Dean of Social Sciences. “They discover and grow their resilience and talents,and they see possibilities for themselves they had never imagined before.”
Sven Schirmer, a 2012 VIUgraduate, is now working as a Policy Analyst at Policy Horizons Canada, and is conducting a foresight study on the future of geopolitics.
“The broad range of courses that are offered in the GLST program, and the topics covered in them, have given me a very solid foundation and developed my ability to see things through different lenses,” says Schirmer. “During my Master’s I noticed that not a lot of other students had the same level of knowledge of global studies and international affairs that I had.”
Although these VIU graduates have found themselves successfully pursuing their passions, Kulesza says their university education is just one piece of the puzzle that has gotten them there.
“Global Studies is an amazing program, and it is a tool that can take you all sorts of places, but like any degree it is a tool. It offers many opportunities to shape you, change you and help you grow, but you need to take advantage of those opportunities. Play an active role, get involved and seek opportunity. It's there for you, and you'd be surprised how easily being open to those opportunities can open other doors even further down the road,” says Kulesza. “Lastly, your degree is a starting point. Don't expect the end of the degree to be the end of your journey, or your learning. What it can be, rather than a destination, is an excellent foundation from which you can really start building a career.”
To learn more about the GLST program, visit Global Studies.
Rae-Anne LaPlante, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University