Class of 2015 – Innis; CSI; USP
4th year student, Ryan Lamers, can be described as the quintessential Innis student. The current Innis College Student Society President (ICSS), Ryan is majoring in Urban Studies while also minoring in Cinema Studies. From academics and student governance, to athletics and student life, Ryan is literally involved in all aspects of Innis College.
Programs of Study:
MAJOR: Urban Studies
MINOR: Cinema Studies
MINOR: Human Geography
Why did you choose to pursue these programs? What is unique about taking these programs in Toronto instead of in a different location?
I chose to pursue Urban Studies because I’m interested in understanding how cities functions in terms of the various networks within them. I also found out quickly how versatile the program material is in relation to all aspects of life.
Taking Urban Studies in Toronto is such a unique experience for so many reasons. Toronto has all the good and bad of what I learn in Urban Studies; I can easily find every day examples of what I am studying just by walking between classes. It’s honestly so exciting to have the opportunity to study a program like this in a city like this.
How are your programs related to each other? What interests you most about them?
Urban Studies and Cinema Studies have absolutely nothing in common, which is probably why people always seem confused when I say that I’m studying both. Cinema is a hobby I have grown up engulfed in because my father has worked in the film industry for decades, but Urban Studies satisfies my interest of wanting to understand how things function.
What are some benefits of taking such specialized programs?
Specialization makes it possible to really understand what I am studying. Both Urban Studies and Cinema Studies are relatively broad topics so it is easy to get lost on route to specialization unless you get professors who narrow down the course content. When analyzing the city, it is crucial to dissect it bit by bit while still understanding how each piece fits within the larger picture. There would be no way to understand the city before understanding these more specialized concepts.
Why did you choose Innis? How does Innis stand out from the other colleges?
I chose Innis because of my brother. He had an incredible time living in Innis Residence and I wanted to experience the community here myself. Student parity at the College is by far what makes Innis stand out from the other colleges. The fact that students have a recognized voice gives us the influence and respect that all students deserve at University. Not only is this voice recognized in the College Council by-laws, but the faculty and administration go out of their way to actively ensure the student population is well represented. This type of structure, combined with the positive attitude the College has towards it, is something you won’t get anywhere else.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in outside of the classroom (e.g., clubs, teams, volunteerism, on-campus employment)?
I have been involved at U of T since day one. I am currently the President of the Innis College Student Society (ICSS), captain of the Innis men’s volleyball team, Student Representative on the Principal’s Advisory Committee, Front Desk Staff at Innis Residence, co-head of Innis Jamz Club, an active member of the Innis College Council (and its various committees), as well as a participant on the Innis co-ed volleyball and men’s soccer teams. I have recently been one of the leaders in advocating for increases in mental health services on campus through a newly struck University-wide committee.
In past years I have been on the ICSS as Orientation Coordinator, Executive Vice-President, and Clubs & Merchandise Director. I’m also just kind of always around so when things come up I usually end up being a part of them…
Have you participated in any “experiential learning” opportunities as a student (e.g., fieldwork, international experience, internships)?
Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to participate in the experiential learning programs. I really wanted to but I simply have had too much going on that it wasn’t possible. However, I have heard amazing things about the programs offered.
What has been the most challenging aspect of UofT that you have experienced? How did you overcome it?
One of the major challenges I have faced at U of T is that there is no central community. The University is so large that it’s nearly impossible to feel a like a large part of it. The campus is mixed with the rest of the city rather than it being its own entity, which makes it very difficult to have a full University experience.
In terms of the community experience, the college system definitely helps in creating a sense of community, but a larger University community like you see at many other universities would really benefit the student experience. In regards to my time here, I have tried to be involved as much as I can without impacting my academics so I can gain that community experience, which Innis College has played a memorable role in. It would be nice to see St. George Street turned into a pedestrian street one day so the University’s students can feel like they have a place in this city and on this campus.
What advice would you like to share with other undergraduate as well as prospective students?
No matter where you go to school, you’re only going to get 50% of your education in the classroom. There’s a reason you pay so much for university, make sure you get the whole experience.