Ethan Deneault CONTRIBUTOR
Photo: Ethan Deneault / THE MIKE
Katie Pullella is a recent graduate of the Life Sciences Program here at the University of Toronto (U of T). She holds an Honours Bachelor of Science, with double majors in Health and Disease and Biology, as well as a minor in Physiology. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Nutritional Sciences at U of T and is the Don of the third floor of Sorbara Hall — a University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) residence hall.
Q: How was the transition from undergrad to graduate school?
My transition to graduate school as a whole was relatively smooth. During my undergrad, I completed a research-based thesis and I have found that graduate school is very similar to that. I spend each day working on my project and have the opportunity to take some classes. Graduate school courses are very similar to fourth-year seminars — much smaller and more content specific.
Q: What is it like to be a Don at USMC?
Being a Don is such a rewarding experience! I have the opportunity to work with a floor of women as they journey through different stages of their undergraduate careers. It definitely keeps me busy but also allows me to have a lot of fun! My residents, and the community as a whole, are very tight-knit. Whether it’s a Dean’s Cup activity — our resident intramural league — common room karaoke night, or Wellness Wednesdays, there is always something to participate in. I also love how much I learn from each student and each interaction — I’m continuously learning about them, other cultures, and so many fun facts! Being a don combines everything that I love: mentorship, student life, and community building — it’s the best of all worlds.
Q: Why should St. Mike’s students get involved?
University has the potential to be an isolating place. While academics are the first priority, it’s easy to get caught into the trap of it being the only priority. As students, we are given the opportunity to build meaningful connections and grow in ways that extend outside of the classroom, and that’s what happens when you get involved. For me, St. Mike’s has always felt like home because of the welcoming individuals who bring life to this campus — it is at the crux of why I got involved, simply because I wanted to give back. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but when you are courageous enough to do so you’ll reap the rewards of the community for a lifetime. There is also a niche for everyone here! Whether you’re into drama, visual arts, photography, board games, writing, environmental causes, or just chatting with people — there is a club and a space for that and they want to meet you!
Q: What is one of the resources you wish you used more during your time as a student?
I think one of the most underused resources is our librarian staff! They are truly incredible. As a science student, I always found myself combing through lots of publications looking for the best place to start. The librarians at Kelly are all very friendly and helpful on these research journeys. I wish I had asked more questions earlier!
Q: Any recommendations for undergraduate students who are not sure what to do after graduation?
I think my one piece of advice would be to take your time! There is really no rush and the most important thing is that your next step is something that you are passionate about. If you have the opportunity during your undergrad, try out potential next steps. It may help you realize what you do (or don’t) want to do with the rest of your life — both are incredibly important. Shadow different jobs and speak to grad students in your field, everyone always likes to share about their experiences. Also, remember to be patient with yourself! Our ideas and thoughts of the future are constantly evolving and that is okay.