By Olivia Bednar
Coming from a private school with minimal variety, Ryerson was a pleasant surprise for second-year student Kayla Reid. Adjusting to university is a big transition for anyone. For Kayla, going from an environment with limited clubs and teams to somewhere like Ryerson, was like opening the door to a whole new world.
“I felt like a lost puppy” the social work student says. “I was trying to find a place where I was comfortable and where people understand me.”
Her old school was strictly academic with no extra-curricular activities for the students to get involved in. Coming to Ryerson, Kayla says, “was like being in a small fish bowl and now I’m in a huge ocean.”
But in first year after attending an open meet and greet session, Kayla discovered the Caribbean Students Association (CSA). She fell in love with the club and they welcomed her warmly. She was a volunteer and part of the dance team last year. Now in her second year, she is vice president of media and on the exec committee.
“We are a group that understands that Ryerson is very diverse. We have a lot of Caribbean students on campus and we want to embrace that and enjoy it and celebrate it,” she says.
At a campus with people from various backgrounds and lifestyles, it can be difficult to find a place to fit in. University is a lot more of an independent experience than high school. But Kayla stresses how important joining the Caribbean Students Association was for her in making her feel like she belonged to something.
“University is not just about school. You build a lot of memories and friendships here. I think a big part of it is joining student groups and meeting other people and getting engaged,” Kayla says.
The independence factor of university can also be a downfall. “Everyone is doing their own thing here and you just have to fend for yourself. I understand that’s how the world is in general but I don’t think it should be like that,” she says, “I think everyone should help each other.”
It has been hard for Kayla to shed the familial comfort and support system from high school but she seems to have recovered it in joining the CSA.
With a club comes more responsibility obviously. Balancing work with the CSA and her schoolwork is another common challenge Kayla faces. “I do my work with the CSA from my phone but at the same time when I want to study, I have to put down the phone and the phone is so addictive you don’t want to put it down,” Kayla says. She also believes school comes before everything else and takes her responsibilities very seriously.
The Caribbean Students Association have a dance group and are avid contributors to Taste of Ryerson. They also go to Montreal every year for a culture weekend where they connect with other Caribbean students at other schools, in addition to hosting regular pub nights and parties.
If Kayla could give a piece of advice, it would be to “look up student groups in the agenda or online and just get involved and have fun.”