Dear First-Year Shukri

Dear First-Year Shukri Letter

Written by: Shukri Matan, Western Biology graduate and incoming Ivey MSc student

Dear First-Year Shukri,

You are starting your new chapter at Western University. It’s the first day and things are really different from high school. You’re excited, a little nervous and you kind of don’t know what to expect. You walk into your first biology class and you're amazed at the number of people in the room. After class, you take a walk around campus, and you're amazed at the number of people on campus. Soon, you get to talking to some of your classmates and you are amazed by their experiences and how your class really is a collection of people from far and wide.

The semester starts ramping up and your workload starts piling up too. You’ve got 7 midterms this semester. You’ve got this! You write your first midterm, and you don’t do as well as you thought you would. It is confusing since Biology was your best subject in high school and you studied the best way you know how. After a few midterms you are wondering why you aren’t hitting your goals especially with the amount of work you are putting in. You may be wondering when all you hard work and dedication will pay off. I can tell you with certainty, it will. You just need to adapt how you study. University is a crash course for life. Not everything goes to plan! Adaptability and resilience are key, and you’ve got those traits in leaps and bounds! Adapting the way you study is part of learning how you study best. Sometimes it takes some self-reflection on your learning style to figure out the best recipe for success.

You are probably hearing about all these new opportunities around you. Summer internships abroad, students with research assistant positions, others who are planning for the MCAT and dreaming of applying to medical schools. It’ll be easy to start wondering and questioning whether you are already behind. Trust me, you aren’t early or behind, you are on time. So, you keep pushing, you are probably applying for executive positions in new clubs, jobs on campus or maybe even for summer jobs. You send in application after application and do interview after interview, but you aren’t getting hired. You might be wondering when you’ll find a job already or when you’ll get that exec position you want. Sometimes, it only takes one acceptance, one position or one job to change the pathway of your experience at Western. Sometimes it’s one that you weren’t expecting to get that ends up bringing you a lot of joy, friends and memories. It’s easy to say this in retrospect, as they say hindsight is 20/20 but know this, the right opportunity is around the corner, keep working hard and it’ll pay off!

The best opportunities are sometimes the ones you didn’t plan for. It’s surprising how the courses I decided to take on a whim, or the ones that I took that sounded interesting brought me to where I am today. They ended up being my favorites and shaped my academic interests. The more you embrace your learning, the more you will discover and the more you will enjoy your academic experience!

I know you love learning and you are excited for the next few years to come. Stay true to yourself and give it your all like you always do and good things are to come!

Best wishes,


Published on