Chad Jankowski (HBSc 2005)
Health Education Coordinator, University of Toronto Mississauga
As a first-year undergraduate student, Chad Jankowski "fell in love" with evolutionary biology during a first year course with U of T Mississauga professor Darryl Gwynne. Jankowski, who would go on to become a biology teaching assistant, completed his fourth-year thesis course in Gwynne’s lab, and had mapped out a career in research. Little did he know that his time out of the classroom would have an even-more important impact on his future professional life.
When he wasn't in the lab, Jankowski had been busy with extracurricular activities on campus. He co-founded OUT@UTM, a group for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community and their allies, and became the coordinator for the Sexual Education Centre, a student-run resource and education centre for UTM community.
At the end of his fourth year, Jankowski was recognized for his volunteer work with a prestigious Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award. It was during the ceremony speech by student affairs dean Mark Overton that Jankowski recalls experiencing what he calls his “aha! moment."
“I clued in that student affairs is an actual profession," he remembers. "There’s theory and evidence for what they do, and they strive to let students grow holistically. I discovered that so much of what I learned as a student happened during experiences outside the classroom.”
After the ceremony, Jankowski approached Overton and told him that he wanted to work with the Student Affairs team. Over the next year, Jankowski helped to create Intuit, UTM's first-ever undergraduate guidebook, and developed a pilot program to build academic skills for upper-year commerce and management students.
Jankowski knew that he had found his niche. “Midway through that year, when I should have been applying to grad school, I thought, ‘this makes me happier than research,’” he says. “I get a lot of satisfaction from helping first-year students connect and engage with the university and each other, and from helping upper-year students grow professionally and personally. That really resonates with me. This is what I want to be doing.”
After graduating, Jankowski was selected to lead a new peer health education team as the Health Education Coordinator, a role that he has filled since 2009.
“I just kind of never left UTM,” he says. “I figured out that I liked working with people more than I liked working with fish and everything I experienced during my time at UTM led me to this point. I care about the growth people experience outside of academics, and I want to be able to give back to other people and help other people have similar experiences.”
Jankowski is currently working on his master’s degree through OISE's Student Development and Student Services in Post-Secondary Eduation program.
Author: Larissa Ho, Communications Intern, Alumni Relations, University of Toronto Mississauga, 2015
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