In Calgary, possibilities are within reach. From participating in a welcoming community to building a great life and a thriving career. This is the story of Asfa Riyaz and her experience studying and working in a city where everything is familiar.
Why did you choose to study in Calgary?
I grew up in Calgary, so I’ve always considered it my home. When I was looking into programs and universities, I knew I wanted to be close to my family, my friends and the community I’ve built in Calgary. Studying here was non-negotiable.
When I finally selected Information Design at Mount Royal University (MRU), I discovered that it’s the only program of its kind in Canada and that the class sizes are much smaller in comparison to other universities. I knew this would help me to form better relationships with my peers and professors. All these factors made Calgary more desirable.
How would you describe your experience studying in Calgary?
Studying in Calgary was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being close to home, having the support of my family, and not needing to adjust to a completely new environment made it easy.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on my program because half of my third year and all of my fourth year were virtual. Information Design is a collaborative program, so having to do it virtually took that component away and made it challenging. Despite these pandemic-related challenges, one of my professors recommended me for a research assistantship position in my fourth year and that has opened a lot of doors for me.
One of them was the opportunity to work with the Indigenous Primary Healthcare and Policy Research Network on a project led by two MRU professors in Nursing and Social Innovation. One of the professors also recommended me to the MRU School of Nursing where I worked as an Information Design Consultant. I worked in this role even after I graduated.
What type of work experience have you had in Calgary?
In my second year at MRU, I did an internship at the TELUS Spark Science Centre which the school helped to secure. I worked there as a junior exhibit developer, and it was an invaluable experience that helped me build connections and set me up for future success. I don’t think I would have gotten that opportunity anywhere else in Canada because of how unique the Information Design program at MRU is.
After graduation, I found out about J5 Design through a friend and met the CEO, John Vardalos over coffee. I was amazed to find that Calgary has an innovative and creative design studio that creates unique experiences for people locally and beyond.