Alice Prindiville-Porto ’18 is a third-year Sociology student at the University of Ottawa. We spoke with Alice about her life after LCS, her experience at university, her plans for the future, and her advice for current LCS students.
Can you tell us about your life after graduating from LCS?
It’s only been a few years since I graduated, but I’m at the University of Ottawa (UOttawa) studying Sociology. I took Grade 11 Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology with Ms. Chellew and I loved the Sociology unit. It was a really nice intersection of social science disciplines. I chose UOttawa because of the program and the city. It was a great transition from Lakefield — a step up in terms of population size, but still the feeling of a community. I’ve been able to take a wide range of courses, including Political Science, Gender Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Communications. I’m also in the Co-op Program, which means that after my 2nd year, every other semester I have a work placement.
Why did you choose to do a Co-op degree and how does that work for someone studying Sociology?
I wanted to get hands-on experience in a variety of different areas to help me understand what I want to do when I’m done. I had my first placement over the summer, working with the Faculty of Feminist and Gender Studies to adapt a course to be taught online. I’m now getting ready for my next placement in the winter with the Canadian Teachers Federation, which is a research position looking at the mental health of teachers right now in the midst of the pandemic. I’m really looking forward to it.
Because there are so many fields of study in the Faculties of Social Science and Arts, students can apply for a wide variety of placements, not just those directly to do with Sociology. I’ll have a total of four placements, and I’m hoping to broaden my experiences as much as possible.
As we’re all living through a global pandemic, what has the university experience been like for you?
It’s always hard to manage work-life balance, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been great in some ways and challenging in others. Not having the physical distance between where you study and where you live makes it hard to step away from school work at times. However, there’s also the convenience and flexibility of studying remotely. I feel like I can engage in my courses in different ways. It’s easier to be assertive or ask questions when it’s not in a lecture hall with hundreds of people. I’m introverted, so losing the social elements of university has had less of an impact on me. That being said, I do miss seeing people.
But I think a lot of students are burning out. This whole experience has taught me a lot about self-compassion. I was actually messaging back and forth with Ms. Brown recently about the importance of stepping away from work. If you wanted, you could never leave, so you have to find the things that allow you to recharge.
As someone who is halfway through their undergraduate degree, where do you see yourself headed?
Before I finish at UOttawa, I definitely want to do an exchange. I’m ideally looking to study at a university in Sweden, which would be my dream. I would also like to try to work in the private sector, whether that’s communications, or marketing, or market research.
While at Lakefield, I began to understand and appreciate the value of service. This is something I want to carry on. I want to be of service, whatever that looks like — to women, to marginalized folks. That definitely drives my personal and professional decisions.
How have you found the transition from LCS to a university environment?
It was definitely a big transition for me. To go from a place like Lakefield into a university environment can be challenging. The self-reliance of university, the idea that it’s just you, and that your success is entirely dependent on what you’re willing to put in, was a lot. After four years at Lakefield, I felt like I needed to find out who I was outside of that environment. I would say the biggest challenge has been learning to advocate for myself. That’s something that right away I realized that I needed to push myself on.
It was important for me to find community. I actually worked at a tea shop during my first year, which a lot of people said would be too much on top of school work. But I found that the community I got with my coworkers, who were mostly other students, was awesome. One of the things that really helped my transition was choosing a few niche elective courses. Class sizes in first year courses are huge, but I was able to find a couple electives with about 30 people.
How do you feel your time at LCS helped craft who you are today?
So much so. Lakefield was such a welcoming and warm environment for me, and one that promoted values of service and respect. What I found was a community that embraced these values and really helped me grow.
The variety of courses, from AP Politics to Classic Civilizations to World Issues, helped me narrow down what I wanted to do. Debating and Public Speaking was huge for me. I don’t necessarily see myself becoming a lawyer, but the confidence these co-curriculars gave me to speak up was invaluable. I don’t know where I’d be without that, being able to articulate and express my opinion.
Any advice for our current students?
Enjoy it. I mean, really enjoy it. Cherish the relationships. I was speaking to an alumnus at an event a few years ago and she said your best friends are going to be your LCS friends and it’s very true. So cherish those friendships because they can be lifelong.
It’s also a time to explore your identity, to find what you like and different activities that inspire you. To give you an example: I tried Nordic Skiing in Grade 9 — I am not talented at all, but I just bought a pair of skis, and actually Mr. Harris helped me find the right pair. I’m looking forward to spending the winter on the trails in Ottawa. So I encourage students to explore a wide variety of things, because you can discover lifelong hobbies and passions in the process.
My advice to the Class of 2021 specifically would be to take the summer before university or whatever is next and really focus on self-care. The transition may feel like a lot, so I think it’s important to have an understanding of what self-care is for you, whatever that might look like. The moment you get to campus, everything takes off so quickly so having a sense of this beforehand will serve you well. And be patient with yourself. Keep an eye on the big picture.
If you are part of the LCS community and are interested in connecting with Alice Prindiville-Porto ’18 and other LCS alumni, consider signing up at groveconnect.ca today.