A Conversation with Linden Alumna Christina Doherty

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Christina graduated from The Linden School earlier this year. At a recent meeting, she shared some of her thoughts on her transition from Linden to being a first year Kinesiology student at the University of Waterloo.

Linden: How did you decide on your area of study at University of Waterloo? Are there other things you are also interested in pursuing?

Christina: There were a few factors in my decision to study kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. First of all, my goal at the end of my undergraduate degree is to go to med school. Kinesiology is a program that recently has become a very popular course to study before going to med school. It teaches about the science behind human movement, whilst also giving you a general knowledge in the sciences, both of which will give you a leg up when starting med school. The University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology program is unique in that it gives first year Kinesiology students the opportunity to work on cadavers, which was a very important feature for me. Also, the program offered neuroscience as a first year course.

Linden: How has your transition been from a small all-girls school to a large university of 30,600 undergraduate students?

Christina: My transition from Linden to Waterloo has been very smooth. The tightly knit community at Linden and the close relationship among my peers and with our teachers taught me to feel confident about approaching my professors after class with questions, or raising my hand to ask a question in a large lecture hall of over 500 students. It’s surprising how a large lecture hall is much less intimidating when you take the time to talk to professors after class and make an effort to sit as close to the front of the room as possible. I’ve found all of my profs to be really friendly and interested in me as a person. You can choose to be anonymous if you want to, but Linden taught me it is much more rewarding to know teachers at a more personal level.

Linden: What's the social scene like at Waterloo?

Christina: Before going to Waterloo, I was a bit concerned that there were a lot of “nerdy” types at Waterloo and that there wasn’t a very good social scene. That’s why I choose a residence that had a so-called “party reputation”, hoping that it would give me the best chance at having some fun and meeting good people. I could not have made a better decision! There are 52 people on my floor (26 girls and 26 guys) and these people have become my closest friends. There are lots of friends to go out to campus events with, we have floor theme parties and pizza nights, or sometimes we go to off campus parties. We have a lot of fun together, and because so many students are in heavy science programs, people don’t seem to go wild partying. I have also found it very easy to meet people in my classes, both by sitting beside new people in class, but also through group projects and student study groups.

Linden: What advice do you have for Linden high school students?

Christina: I think the best advice I could give to a Linden student is be well informed about all the different programs that you are considering. Read all the brochures, talk to friends and former students of Linden who are at university now, and ask lots of questions. Once you decide on a program, learn as much as you can about the program. Also, go and visit the universities you’re considering and get a feeling for the place to see if you can picture yourself there. If you have an idea of what you want to study after undergrad studies, try to choose an undergrad program that will easily give you the prerequisites for your graduate program. If you don’t know what you want to do, don’t worry. Choose something you are interested in, and along the way, you will find something that you are passionate about and that you can make a career out of. When you get to university and meet other students, you’ll discover lots of programs and subjects you’ve either never heard of or never thought of. Also, take advantage of your time at Linden. Ask lots of questions: ask your teachers and the guidance counsellor for ideas and advice. Be as involved in your Linden community as you can, through sports, clubs, and organizing events, because it will build your confidence, your skills, and your feeling of engagement, which will help you when you move on to a larger community. And then you can do it all over again at university because you know how good it feels to be part of a community that is fun and stimulating!

Linden: What are your plans for the coming year?

Christina: I have a very busy schedule ahead of me this year. I have a full course load, but on top of that I volunteer in two research labs. One is a neuroscience lab, where I am a participant in a lot of studies, such as one on concussions, and I am gaining valuable knowledge about many different aspects of neuroscience. I am also helping to conduct research in a plant biology lab where I spend 10 hours a week running experiments and analyzing and imputing the research. Next January, I plan on writing the MCAT, so this spring and summer I will be studying and taking a course to help me prepare for it.