On June 2nd, 2017, a group of passionate panelists and youth volunteers came together to put on the 2nd annual Life After High School panel. The tables and chairs were set, the raffle prizes and swag bags were readied, and everyone took their places as the doors first opened. The evening started off with panelists and attendees trickling in, snacking on the cookies, and mingling with others. The room was filled with chatter, as people were meeting others left and right.
Once it was time for the panel to officially begin, people took their seats and Heather Skoll took the stage, introducing the panel as well as the special attendees: Dave Barrow, mayor of Richmond Hill, Karen Cilevitz, ward 5 councillor, and Majid Jowhari, an MP of Richmond Hill. Heather then introduced the event’s sponsors, Janine Purves (Assante) and Daniel Gauthier (TwinBytes). Heather’s words were followed by Dave Barrow, who talked about the importance of youth in Richmond Hill, as well as the opportunities and events in the future. After, Janine gave some insight on the path after high school, which may not always be clear or right on the first try. Following this, Gap-Gen youth team member, Diana Ayvazova, expressed her excitement for the outcome of the panel, representing her fellow team members.
The panelist portion of the event kicked-off with Mariette Lee, proclaimed ‘wizard’, and the main organizer of the Life After High School panel. As the panel’s moderator, she introduced each individual panelist with a runway-style entrance and a small biography. By then, the panel was in full-swing, with questions being asked and panelists passionately talking of their own experiences. The recording of the whole panel will be available to watch sometime in the future, but here are some highlights and pieces of advice from each panelist that stood out:
Brennan: Being in a science program, people expect to learn strictly science, but broadening your perspectives and looking outside of the classroom is important. School also encourages you to go beyond just classwork. It motivates you to learn new things on your own.
Tom: When applying to University/College, look into the courses each program offers and see which ones you would like.
Alisha: A lot of the times, you’ll get rejected, but another opportunity always opens up and you then realize why you had to get rejected. When you graduate, you may need to carve your own path and it’s okay if people don’t understand it because you’re better off following your heart.
Andrek: After graduating high school, you’re still young. People change careers much later in life as well, so don’t feel pressured to know what you want to do immediately after graduation. No matter what, keep learning and researching yourself, regardless of what you do after high school.
Marny: College is not as bad as some make it out to be. College was portrayed as a pathway for the academically inferior, but it’s really a great hands-on experience. In the end, just do something you love and it will turn into something extraordinary.
Henry: Scholarships are a good way for you to make some money before going off to post-secondary. There’s a lot of money invested into youth, you just have to go look for it.
Taki: University is a new opportunity for you to come out of your shell, take more risks, and network. When going to school away from home, you’ll need to balance school, friends, and life on campus.
Sarah: If you live in residence, you have to be responsible for yourself. No one will be there to do anything for you. When applying for post-secondary, do a lot of research to make sure that you’ll like what courses you’ll take.
After some time, answering questions, a ‘nutrition break’ was held. It was an opportunity for everyone to grab refreshments and talk to each other, while ensuring that no one was confined to their seats. Before resuming the panel, Heather and Diana took the opportunity to introduce some of the events Gap-Gen will be holding in the near future:
~On-going summer project: Community Garden in East Gwillimbury, a strategic management workshop in collaboration with Tom Ross
Soon after, more questions were being thrown at the panelists for them to converse about. Before anyone knew it, the prompts had run out and the floor was opened to questions from the audience. After an exciting evening of talk and fun, all that was left was the post-panel social and to announce the raffle prize winners. It was another opportunity for attendees to meet and greet with the panelists and have a chance to win some nice prizes along the way. As a final note, everyone in the room sang Happy Birthday to one of the youths attending the event, Kate Sarrami. Happy belated, Kate!
Overall, the experience was certainly an insightful one. As a current high school student, it was amazing to be a part of the youth team.
Thank you to those who could make it out to the panel, as well as the lovely panelists for their time. Pictures of the event are up on the Gap-Gen Facebook page. (All photos taken by Ken Alexander) If you were unable to make it, you can stay up-to-date with, and sign up for Gap-Gen’s future endeavors on the Programs and Events page of the Gap-Gen website. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you next year!