Cheska Catilo

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

Year Graduated: 2021

Area of Emphasis: Political Economy and Administrative Change

Other Education: Master’s of Public Administration @ Queen’s University

Current Role: Volunteer Role as an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Representative for student government @ Queen's University

What surprised you or was unexpected about the program?

“I never imagined, or I guess I didn’t realize in my earlier years of undergrad how important it was to make connections with your professors, and they tell you this from the day that you first walk into any classroom. But, I think, for me especially, I didn’t know anyone in my family at least, who had gone to graduate school. So, I had no idea at all about navigating that and what that process would look like, even the application process. So, I reached out to Dr. Ho and Dr. Paras [from GIDS], actually in fourth year and I was like, ‘please, help! I have no idea what’s happening, and I want to do grad school but I’m not sure if it’s the right move for me!’ […] It’s a little bit scary to do that when no one in your immediate environment has ever pursued that. It’s so scary as an undergrad student to go up to your professor, but they want to help you, and were more than willing to come sit with me after class, after we’ve already had a 3-hour lecture, and ask what I wanted from graduate school. I remember even after I had graduated, Dr. Paras was like, ‘this is what you need to work on, send me your statements, I am going to help you edit.’ So, I think, I never expected to form those kinds of relationships with professors and continue that even after graduation."

What advice would you give to a current IDS undergraduate student?

“As much as I hate to say it, because it has followed me even to graduate school, I would continue the economics and research methods classes as much as you can. I never liked math, I tried to avoid economics at every corner. Continue those because it will be so helpful for you if you continue post-grad studies or even in the workforce, it will really give you that edge. So, continue learning economics, and if you can I would do like a statistics course. They are so scary, and they will make you work for it, but I think in terms of career development and moving forward in any career or grad school, I would say continue down that line. And also, again, like I said prior, making those connections with your professors as well as your peers because down the line you may never know who you’re going to run into and who is going to open that door for you.”

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