Introducing our new Web Writer

Image: Minds Matter Magazine contributors

If you worked at the Toronto Star building in the fall of 2013 and used the stairwell from time to time, you may recognize my face. On a regular basis during my co-op term, I organized an exercise routine in climbing up and down the Toronto Star building. I shared the entanglement that many students find themselves in when it comes to seeking counselling help during their co-op term. I made do with what I had. Focusing on my overall well-being was critical to thriving during my experiential learning experience. You can read more on a blog post I wrote for HEQCO’s It’s not Academic:

We need to hear stories of teaching and learning to reinforce what makes the University of Toronto a thriving community, the big and the small moments. This reinforces what makes us proud as an institution and is honest about what needs to improve. This particular experience I shared with you, one of struggle, reveals how complex teaching and learning can really be. Learning to the fullest can only happen when we provide the types of ‘teaching’ experiences that enable us to spend less time navigating and more time learning. We need to be open to the textures and the nitty gritty dynamics that are at play that go beyond what we normally think about when we think ‘teaching and learning.’

This experience, among others, inspired me to start up an interdisciplinary student mental health magazine called Minds Matter Magazine. I wanted to make sense of the burgeoning outcry of campus mental health issues as well as make sense of mental health issues from more than just psychological approaches. Like many health and well-being issues, mental health is complex and inextricably linked with teaching and learning.

Image: Karen Young, CTSI Web Writer, Summer 2016My name is Karen Young and I am a fifth year student pursuing a double major in psychology and health studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. I am passionate about learning and teaching in higher education, something I first realized a a 3M National Student Fellow (3M NSF) in 2015.

Throughout this experience, I got to learn from educators and students at all levels in higher ed from across Canada. I co-adjudicated the 2016 3M NSF applications, wrote on guided experiential learning and proximal learning for the journal Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, and attended the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) 2015 conference in Vancouver. (I’ll also be attending this year’s conference in London, Ontario and always looking for buddies to debrief on our learnings together).

I love starting up creative projects that eventually take on a life of their own. I co-founded TEDxUTSC and continue as an advisor to this day. The truth is, I co-created TEDxUTSC because I constantly craved intellectual stimulation both inside and outside of the classroom. Both on a personal and professional level, I got to know the campus, what it takes to build a community of celebrating ideas, and to respect talents of any kind.

I also volunteer for Culturelink, a settlement agency providing resources to newcomers. I mentor newcomers to pass the Canadian citizenship test. Newcomers are commonly underrated and often an untapped source of innovation and ideas, doing their own ‘start-ups’ to make a life for themselves here in Canada. Even though my role demands me to teach others, I learn so much about newcomers in order to be able to offer them valuable knowledge and techniques to learn more English and Canadian citizenship.

I joined the CTSI team not only because I want to be a nomadic lifelong learner with other lifelong nomadic learners, I also want to celebrate and showcase the phenomenal teaching and learning that makes everyone proud to be at the U of T.

I also pursued this opportunity to learn from others—I want to learn how to take photos, photo edit, and to be exposed to the story production process at CTSI. I want to become a better writer.

In conjunction with these growing skill sets, I love adding value to any group I am a part of in any way I can. I love solving problems as a team and would love to help in any way that I can.

By Karen Young