By: Jocelyn Mattka
Ancaster Community Services was an important part of my high school experience. I started volunteering in grade 9, through clubs at my high school, and was involved in a number of different events over the next few years. When COVID-19 hit at the end of my grade 11 year, I was looking for ways to continue to stay connected and make a positive impact on my community. Ancaster Community Services offered the perfect solution; The Net!
I spent the next year heavily involved with the group. The friends I made and the projects I was part of will stay with me for a long time. After graduating from high school in Spring 2021, I began to realize just how great an impact my experiences with The Net had on me. The leadership and collaboration skills I gained were invaluable as I embarked on the next phase of my journey. I am currently studying social sciences (specific major to be decided soon) at the University of Toronto (U of T). In addition to classroom experiences, I am a councilor on VUSAC, which is one of U of T’s student government bodies. I am an assistant producer with VCDS, an on-campus drama society, and a contributor to The Varsity, U of T’s newspaper. I’ve led Registered Study Groups, and I continue to work with Accessibility Services as a volunteer notetaker.
I live in Toronto during the week and I love exploring the city and the campus (when I’m not studying, of course!). I remember when I visited the school in the summer. I took a picture of one of the old buildings and sent the photo to my dad with this message: “Dad, look! I found my castle!”. In front of the building is a grassy area that we call “The Quad”, which is perfect for studying, reading, or relaxing with friends when the weather is nice. On the weekends, I work at Canadian Dance Company Burlington. Teaching dance has been a great way to step away from school work and engage with a passion of mine! When I consider all I am doing in my life right now, I constantly think about the high school experiences that shaped me. The skills and passion for community involvement that I acquired from The Net motivate me and continue to support me in my current activities.
Although my experiences have been filled with excitement, no major changes are ever perfect. Knowing that, I have a couple pieces of advice to offer to current High School students at The Net and in the Ancaster community. First, time management is no joke. Take advantage of high school as an opportunity to perfect your study habits and get good at managing your schedule. My second piece of advice is arguably even more important: surround yourself with people who will support you and make you feel good about what you’re working on. Not just friends to hang out with, but friends who will push you to be your best self. I’ve been so lucky to have met people that make me feel inspired to keep studying hard, but also remind me that I need to take breaks. Finding those people will make a night and day difference when you’re adjusting to managing so much on your own.
With all of that said, anyone who is getting ready to step into the postsecondary world should get excited! It truly is a time filled with experiences and opportunities that will impact and shape you. As I continue through school in these coming years, I know for certain that I will continue to draw on everything I gained from The Net!