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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Students Share Summer Work Experiences



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Proudly Wearing our U of T lab coats

By Molly Johnston – student at St. Patrick Secondary School


My name is Molly Johnston and I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from the TCDSB to attend the Youth Summer Program presented by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Youth Summer Program. The five-day program was based on Molecular Biology and Genetics and discussed topics such as crime scene investigation. Although the program was not long in duration it was filled with rich content that truly complemented the curriculum of grade 11 biology and chemistry courses. For this particular program, we acted as forensic investigators who were tasked with solving a murder that took place in the Medical Sciences building on campus. Our “investigation” included CSI work and beyond and we were able to use actual techniques that are performed in real-life crime labs.
Proudly wearing our U of T lab coats provided by the program, we learned techniques such as DNA fingerprinting where we were able to process DNA that we extracted from the crime scene to test if it matched one of our suspects. Another experiment we did was paper chromatography where we studied the effects of water and alcohol on different black inks. This chemical process helped us to determine which suspect’s pen was used on a note found at the crime scene. Our “crime scene” also involved the use of unknown substances, which we were able to determine using the ELISA process. ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay and involved the use of antibodies and antigens to discover which samples found at the crime scene were narcotics. Using all of these lab experiments, as well as analyzing fingerprints and witness statements, I felt like a real detective when I cracked the case!
While much of the program was dedicated to “solving the crime”, we also had the opportunity to do other fun experiments such as genetic mutation in bacteria and extracting our own DNA. Every experiment was incredibly interesting and it was a great form of hands-on learning. Having the opportunity to listen to speakers was also very inspiring. These lectures were based on personal accounts of professionals working and teaching in different areas of molecular biology and forensics. I was able to ask questions about their experiences and journey to their careers. As a person who was already interested in going into science for post-secondary, this program helped me solidify that idea and realize that there are numerous career opportunities involving science. 
All of the program’s staff were incredibly helpful and friendly including my instructors. The instructors were all university students who were only a few years older than us which meant that they understood our possible fears about post-secondary and beyond. The small group atmosphere also made me feel comfortable asking them questions both related to the content and about university in general. This MED YSP is true example of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in action. I highly encourage all eligible TCDSB students to apply to this enriching and worthwhile program.



This Wonderful Experience

By:  Nikita Andrade – student at St. Patrick Secondary School


My name is Nikita Andrade, and recently I was awarded an incredible chance to attend the University of Toronto’s Youth Summer Program. With the support of my guidance counselors, teachers, and the TCDSB, this opportunity was made available for myself and other fortunate students. The Youth Summer Program is an amazing experience for students who find the field of medicine or law enticing. I received the chance to attend the medicine module under forensics and microbiology.

Throughout the week of the program, a broad range of topics was covered through labs, lectures, and hands-on activities. The lectures were thoroughly explained and very interactive. We had the chance to learn the different scopes that medical fields have to offer. The Lecture rooms were an amazing space to listen and really grasp some of the more challenging topics that we were being introduced to. The professors and guest speakers brought new perspectives to everyday ideas, and how the field of medicine incorporates the knowledge of our practical lives into building them into careers. We also had a chance to cover the theory-based work that went in hand with our labs. The labs were my favourite part of the overall experience. I was able to work hands-on through a mock crime scene and use different scientific methods to crack the case. Our leaders did an amazing job organizing this activity and guided us step by step through our many labs. Many techniques and procedures were taught in great depth and provided insight in the everyday forensic scene.

Overall, the Youth Summer program was an amazing opportunity that enabled me to become more comfortable with the idea of entering medicine. Before this program, medicine was a great interest of mine, yet I had fear of committing to something that would take up over 8 years studying. YSP was a stepping-stone that provided me with the comfort of medicine and University itself. The program was set up in a way which we would be recreating the daily routines of a University student. The campus provided for a transition into the comfort of University, which will soon come in handy once I start my post-secondary pathway. Many of the topics and labs covered University based materials, which gave all the participants a huge advantage over students who jump straight into University.
This wonderful experience is one of a kind, and cannot be replicated elsewhere. I am very fortunate that I had the opportunity to attend this program generously provided by the TCDSB. Without the financial support of the board and the counselors, I would have never been able to attend such a program in my current financial situation. YSP brings me closer to my dream of being the first in all of my family to graduate University. I am grateful for all the support I have received through this program and look to use all of what I have learned into building my education. This program is one that I would recommend to all students interested in Medicine or Law as it provides them with the knowledge and skill sets to enter Post-Secondary.


Our Experience at the University Of Toronto Law Youth Summer Program

by Daniela Nava-Velazquez (St. Mary Academy) & Daniella Charles-Obazei (Bishop Allen Academy)


Amusing, educational, and mind-opening are just a few of the multitude of words that describe our experience at the University Of Toronto Law Youth Summer Program that we will always remember as a stepping stone to what we hope to pursue in the future.
During our journey through the Law and Politics week, Daniela and I learned about different components that form our democratic society, such as: how our government is run, by whom it is run by and the different levels of government, etc. In addition, throughout our week, we were given engaging yet challenging activities that encourage us to branch out from our shells and openly work as a collaborative unit with our assigned team. Thus, these activities that we were given allowed us to understand further and acknowledge that for a government and society to function properly, we must all attempt to be open and accepting of the ideas of other people, respect everyone’s opinion and always find a healthy balance for all sides. Furthermore, we were also very fortunate to have fantastic guest speakers such as, Knia Singh, Keith Rose, April Julian  etc., who not only took the time out of their very busy schedules to have an open but also have an honest dialogue with us, such us about the state in which our government could be in the near future. Moreover, we consider that the activity that we found to most engaging was our culminating debate, where we were assigned different parties and tasks, and we instructed to make and modify Bills to ensure that they passed. Subsequently, all parties from the Liberals to the Conservatives and The New Democratic Party had valid reasons and fought ferociously to pass their Bills, as if we were real life politicians.  
There were even some very comical and exciting moments as party members shockingly crossed the floor and even some jaw-dropping scandals! It was a moment that we will never forget, the excitement and joy we all felt as a group, even though no bill passed, we all walked off that debate room feeling like winners.

In addition, as much as we loved our experience at Law YSP, we could not have been so successful without the help of our fantastic teacher mentors, who encouraged and supported us throughout the program. We would love to thank our YSP coordinators Eleonora D. and Annette L. and to our mentors; Katherine W.  Anastasia G. James P. and our excellent philosophical mentor, Neil B. All in all, it was an indeed an amazing program, that gave us an opportunity to meet different people from all across Canada and even International students from places like Germany. Therefore, we not only developed strong friendships with people who have the same interests as we do but we also had a greater understanding of the variety of branches of law that one can pursue in the future, from corporate to property.
In conclusion, it was a remarkable and amusing experience that we will most definitely do again, and hope others could do as well.  As Doctor Seuss posits "you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”. Moreover, we recommend anyone who is interested in law to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity because it will indeed open your mind to the multitude of branches that there are out there for you to pursue.