A Bachelor of Arts degree in my future? Looks like it!

As those that are close to me may know, my passion in life does not lie in the realm of business. I will be completing my BComm degree, but I’m 100 percent more excited to get a BA in development studies. Yes, an understanding of business is good to have because it is an institution that plays such a major role in our lives, but I can’t really see myself working for personal gain. I guess that’s why I’ve been drawn to the development studies program, because it works towards what I would call ‘nobler goals’. Now I’m not meaning to degrade anyone else’s choices here, but I try my best to work towards my own sense of fulfillment. I’m personally not into making boatloads of money because I see all the disparity that greed creates. (Yes, I know I’m a hypocrite because I’m still in the top 2%) I guess you could call me a Socialist/Marxist/Egalitarian (label me as you’d like), but regardless I’m someone that would be much happier helping to secure clean water for millions of people, or maybe helping a starving family find food. I used to be set on making a huge global contribution, but at this point I think I’d be happy to have any kind of positive effect on the world. BUT, I would be a lot happier to be in a position that allow me to address the cause of these problems, rather than working on a case by case basis. I’m more of a big picture person rather than a detailed oriented person, so I think I’d be better suited towards global NGO work rather than local work.

Anyways…I think that a BA in development studies will help open some doors to do so, as well as help me have a better impact through an increased understanding of the world’s problems. So you may be wondering, what is development studies? I’ve gotten this question many times, and it’s hard to answer, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Development studies “examines the origins, purposes, and performance of contemporary national and international institutions and their effect on people in different geographical and socio-economic contexts.” (Thanks University of Calgary for that great description!) The development studies program itself is multi-disciplinary program which features courses on human geography, sociology, anthropology and a variety of other subjects.  The program looks to expand understanding of key areas that attribute to individual and societal development. These areas include communication, economics, globalization, environment, community, politics, heritage, and colonialism…just to name a few. 

One course I’m excited for has the following as a goal: “Emphasis will be placed on understanding and critically evaluating the context of thought within which individuals raised in the Western European tradition think and view the world.” FUCK YEAH!  How interesting! But how did I get to this point?

The thought of extending my stay at the University of Calgary was first brought on through my involvement with AIESEC. I had been a part of the organization for a couple of months, and I was in love. People were asking me to run for a VP position, but unfortunately I was going to be graduating at the end of the semester and the position required a yearlong commitment. I guess I should tell you that I had no intention of sticking around school for any longer when I first started the year. 4 years of commuting to school, going to classes I generally lacked interests in, and commuting home was enough for me by that point. I was excited to be done and get my real life going!…But something has changed since then. I got involved. I couldn’t believe what I had missed for 4 years! I had finally found something I loved about school. I had found work I believed in, and a group of people special enough to share this tremendous work with. So I began thinking to myself, why not add a minor to my program in order to stick around a bit longer? It would only add another year and a bit to my schooling, and I would get to continue working with AIESEC and benefit from all that it has to offer. Well now this minor has turned into a BA (2 years instead of 1, why not get a BA instead for an extra year of work right?)

Now even though AIESEC was the catalyst to this thought process, it was not the sole factor pushing me towards extra schooling. A couple of months ago I met a man named Nollind Bryce who works in a fundraising role with the Calgary Food Bank. I sold him and his wife a mattress, and while I was showing them beds he talked to me about his work and how much he enjoyed the not for profit sector. We both talked about our personal motivations, and I could see a bit of myself in what he ways saying. Later at the counter he asked me to give him my email, because he wanted to send me some information about a panel that he was going to be taking part of at the University of Calgary. It was put on by the career center, and it was geared towards careers in the not for profit sector. I ended up attending this session, and a couple of different things struck a chord. First, these people get paid alright; they’re definitely not living in poverty. I was surprised to find out that the sector did pay people as well as it did. I always figured that you’d have to work during the week to pay the rent, and then have some other part time job to feed yourself. I guess this was not the case.

Second, these people genuinely love their careers, regardless of the cut in pay, and the long hours. Many speakers talked about the NECESSITY to do what they loved, and the fulfilment that came with their positions that they couldn’t achieved from their previous corporate roles. This was exactly what I was looking for. I have always wanted to do something to help the world, and now here were these people validating the motives behind it and showing me that it was a real possibility. How awesome!

But something else struck me from that session, and that is just how competitive these positions are to attain. I guess that any posting will get hundreds of applicants. Many of the panellists either volunteered or worked part time simply to get into their organizations! They also described the qualities they looked for in applicants, and I was struck by the high level needed to actually get a job. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to passion. And I’ve got loads of it! And having a BA in development studies wouldn’t hurt either. :P So let’s add the desire to stay in school and live university life some more, along with learning about things I find interesting, and then let’s add the possibility of fulfilling my innermost passion. It shouldn’t be hard to see why I’m drawn towards a development studies degree. My hope is that my understanding of business, gained through my international business degree; paired with a deeper understanding of people and society, gained with a development studies degree; will allow me to better understand the world and the forces at play. My hope is that my education will show me ways that I can make the world a better place for all to live. I don’t know how I’m going to do that yet, but since opening my heart to the universe, it has not yet guided my astray. GDWHWSDFI SO HAPPY!!!

Love, Kevan