University is not a race to see who can graduate first
In Grade 12, drawn by her interest in law, Zaakirah Khan applied to Simon Fraser University (SFU) with her eyes on the criminology program. After her first year, though, she decided that she was better suited to psychology which she declared as her major with a minor in criminology instead.
“In my first term, I struggled with the change—it's a totally different environment from high school,” Khan says. “I was scared to do terrible in my courses and not make any friends.”
But Khan believed in herself enough to step out of her comfort zone and find the way forward. She made it her goal to get involved at SFU’s Surrey campus, becoming a campus tour guide, volunteering for Welcome Day, and peer mentoring for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
“I feel like I made personal connections with my mentees, and even influenced them to become peer mentors themselves,” Khan says. “It felt amazing knowing that there were a group of students that looked up to me for help and as someone they could talk to.”
Khan also took part in recruitment events at the Surrey campus where she spoke about her experiences with prospective students and their parents. She also decided to work towards academic goals in order to reach her professional goals.
“I’d heard that the co-op program at SFU was one of the best and I wanted to get a high enough grade point average to enter it so that I could gain work experience,” Khan says. “It was not an easy road to get here, but I'm glad I did it.”
She recently completed a full year co-op position with the federal government. Since returning to her studies, Khan continues to work part-time for the government.
Khan has learned a lot during her four years at SFU but she says that the biggest thing she’s learned is that students should take their time to complete their degrees.
“University is not a race to see who can graduate first, but what it is about, is meeting new people, making new friends and social connections, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us such as studying abroad, volunteering, co-op, being a board member or joining clubs,” Khan says. “I've accomplished most of this, and I'm still not done. I've made friends that I will know for a life time, and I couldn’t be any happier.”