Fredericton Faculty of Arts

Be open to change do what you enjoy and love and the rest will fall into place Memories of First Year Part 4

Author: Fredericton Arts

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Category: Faculty , Arts , Spotlight , Opinion , Student

Only two weeks...

 ...until you begin the next chapter. Regardless of whether you are joining us straight from high school or from another stage in your life, we hope all the excitement and fresh-start motivation inspired by those back-to-school vibes are helping you to feel positive about your first term. For the fourth installment in our series on 'Memories of First Year' I met up with Arts alumna Kelsey Seymour. Find out about "the D Experience", the significance of salad in a Sobeys parking lot, and why taking shortcuts isn't the best plan.
(Oh and don't forget some hip hop hits of the early 2000s - 50 Cent and Shawn Desman anyone?)


Kelsey Seymour, Digital & Social Media Manager (Marketing Office, UNB)
Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Political Science)
First Year at UNB: 2003 (BA)

What song (or songs) sends you back to your first experiences at university or reminds you of that time?

Kelsey: “Hilariously, the songs that remind me of my first year are R. Kelly’s Remix to Ignition and Shawn Desman ‘Lets Go’. Those are two very important cultural songs [sarcasm, laughter]. Shawn Desman was here for Orientation Week, hence the Shawn Desman reference and obviously we had to prep for that concert by listening to all the Shawn Desman that week and then the Ignition song that was definitely a standard, it was my favourite at the time. It was playing everywhere… embarrassing... I thought I was very cool driving around blaring it. Oh and ‘In Da Club’ by 50 Cent. Make sure you write In DA club


Any foods that you really liked during that first term?

Kelsey: “So the number one food that reminds me of first year in university is Greco Pizza. But then, a side salad and a multigrain roll because also come to mind because - in my first year in Arts 1000 classes specifically - it was the first time I had a ‘hippie’ phase in my life where I wanted to go back to the earth, or back to nature, and eat healthy and natural. There’s this one moment that really stands out where I was sitting in the Sobeys parking lot listening to CBC on the radio for the first time because obviously I was previously listening to Ignition and In Da Club. [I remember] listening to CBC, and eating this seed roll and salad (it was in a plastic container!) in the Sobeys parking lot but I remember feeling like ‘I am becoming a full human being (laughter)’ … that embodies my first year Arts experience (more laughter).”


Are there any particular emotions you remember feeling during the first few weeks?

Kelsey: “I just felt very old and grown up. I had this oversized grey UNB hoodie with navy blue letters that I still have and I used to wear all the time. I remember just feeling like… I’m in university now. That was one feeling, really excited and accomplished, like an adult for the first time. And then there was definitely a rude awakening moment that came with that where I realized for the first time that your profs don’t remind you about the homework you have. So suddenly I was two weeks behind in readings, because for the first time in my life, no one was reminding me that I had assignments and homework… It was overwhelming and I felt pretty stupid. It was a good life lesson, ‘Like hey, welcome to the real world, you're responsible for yourself.’”

Is there a significant person that sticks with you from that time?

Kelsey: "John Muise, he was my Arts 1000 tutorial instructor. He was very inspiring and still the person that I associate with first year. I still see him biking around in his jean shorts 12 years later! I might also have said the boyfriend I had the Greco pizza with. A lot of those memories of studying hard for a Psych midterm, I was at his house, [with] Greco pizza.”

What about a particularly positive experience?

Kelsey: “It was Arts 1000. It's one of those courses you pretend to hate at the time but that was the first moment that I had the urge to be intellectual in any way. I have tried to get my hands on those Arts 1000 readers in grad school. It was just a really cool walk through the history of Western thought from really smart people. At the time I might not have appreciated or loved it but looking back there were so many formative moments of my life that had to do with those tutorials including failing at studying and winging a question on the exam. I chose the feminism question [on the exam] because I’m a female and thought I could at least pass it but that didn’t actually fair very well for me – which is funny now because I went on to focus on feminist theory in grad school. In that first year it was those moments in the Sobeys parking lot where you suddenly feel like learning is important and life changing in some way, it’s not [just] a means to an end, it’s something [worthwhile] in and of itself...I was doing a Ph.D at UBC and there were moments I wished I could have had that Arts 1000 tutorial again or access to the reader..."

How did you deal with obstacles or negative experiences?

 Kelsey: “Ah yes, that was the ‘D experience’. So again for the first time… it didn’t happen in grad school, it doesn’t happen in life, and it certainly didn’t happen in high school, but your undergrad was the time where your profs posted your grade on their door according to your student number. I feel like it’s one of those moments that really stick with you, when you make that scary trek to your prof’s door and you look for your student number to see your grade. It was the first moment I ever saw a D on anything and it’s because in addition to no one telling you you have to do your homework not everyone takes your attendance in class. That 9:30AM Psych class (it wasn’t even at 8:30!) I thought that I could just get away with never going because the lectures were posted online and there was a textbook, yada-yada-yada; I got a D on the first midterm. That was a devastating feeling. I learned an important lesson – it’s important to go to class even if it looks like there are shortcuts."

How did you overcome that?

Kelsey: “I started going to class. I studied like nobody’s business to bring my grade up from a D to a B minus which requires A’s obviously. I did everything. In addition to going to class, I did the CD that comes with the textbook and I did the little practice questions and quizzes. Before the D, I thought Psych would be my major, I thought I would be a psychologist or a guidance counsellor or something and I didn’t [do that]. I went to the Political Science classes and that’s the direction I went in. It was the Invasion of Iraq at the time and I was really into following that and [watching] online coverage of how hilarious George Bush was."

What was your favourite subject that first year?

Kelsey: “Writing. It was just an intro to writing course. It seemed like a good course to take but I had always really liked English and I also totally bombed in that course. I went in thinking I was the cat’s meow and came out with not very good grades for the first few assignments. I had this really incredible instructor. She was also one of those really life changing people. At the end of my university career if I could have identified two or three people who really impacted my university experience she would certainly be one. She was just so passionate about teaching and about teaching these really awful, fundamental concepts [of writing]. It really shaped my experience and my career going forward. She gave me horrible grades, maybe that’s why, but she made me us learn the in’s and out’s of a semi-colon and made me a better writer. [Her name was] Alexandra or Sasha Dence. I still will talk to her if I see her in the grocery store. It was also cool because we had to read Lord of the Rings. I know I said a lot about not taking short cuts [in this interview] but I may have watched the movie several times…And actually we read the English Patient as well and that to this day remains one of my favourite books and favourite movies because of that ‘hippie’ experience I had – the Sobeys salad and roll in the parking lot incident. Again it was aspiring to be intellectual for the first time.

Least Favourite Subject?

Kelsey: “I don’t really remember any from first year that I didn’t like except for Psychology I guess. I really thought it was going to be the rest of my life but that [didn’t happen] so there’s a lesson there too, be open to change, do what you enjoy and love, and the rest will fall into place.”

Did you have a favourite place on campus?

Kelsey: “Yup! The Red Room [The Beaverbrook Room] hands down. So I went on to UBC after I graduated from UNB and I brought a boyfriend or two home from Vancouver and among the top 5 places in Fredericton that I would show off to people, one was the Red Room. It’s one of those places that really feels like it belongs to a university that’s been around since 1785. You feel part of that when you’re there."

How about off-campus?

Kelsey: “Besides Greco? [laughter] Probably the market [Boyce’s Farmers’ Market] would be my off-campus place. It was really accessible and the whole community was there, and there's lots of natural, local stuff. I think that was also around when I started to be more interested in food as a thing and a hobby. I was starting to leave Greco behind [laughter]. At the time I was eating samosas and donairs and sometimes orange juice and actually those are still reasons I’m there but I appreciate other things too [now]…”


Photo credit:

Are there things that are different about UNB then compared to now?

Kelsey: “There was no Currie Centre. I would never have gone to the gym then but I do now that I work here. Accessibility – it’s an interesting thing – I think that was happening throughout my time, where the university started really prioritizing things and making these really really old buildings accessible to everyone. So I remember one of my last year’s here students had taken on a project to make the Harriet Irving Library wheelchair accessible. That’s one of those things I could see evolving. I remember the physical course calendar. I had a part-time job at a flower shop in King’s Place and I can remember flipping through and looking at all the different course options. I suspect the experience now is completely online.”
A long ago time when you chose courses from a book...

Interview by Tabatha Armstrong