This month I interviewed Ally Just, who graduated from Quest in 2013.
E: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Toronto, Ontario. And I moved into Quest when I was 17, right after high school.
E: How did you hear about Quest, and why did you choose Quest?
A: I found out about Quest online. I literally just stumbled across the webpage when I was looking for universities. I was particularly interested in going to the West Coast because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’d never been out West of Canada, and so I was searching on Google “universities in British Columbia” and stumbled across Quest, and kind of looked into it, read up about it, looked at the webpage, and just fell in love with what they had to offer. Just, the whole philosophy on education, their curriculum, the block plan, it all just spoke to me and really appealed to me and I knew that that was the way that I would learn best. I would benefit from that mode of education.
E: Did you know what you wanted to do at all before you came to Quest?
A: I had absolutely no clue! Not even a slight inkling of what I wanted to do before I came to Quest. That was one of the reasons why Quest appealed to me.
E: What was your question?
A: At first it was “What can we learn from the disordered mind?” and over my two concentration years it sort of evolved and it got a little broader and it turned into “What is the nature of the mind?” because I wanted to approach it with a dual perspective from philosophy and from neuroscience or biological sciences.
E: What are you doing now? Did Quest play a part in that at all?
Quest stimulated me intellectually so that when I graduated I was still buzzing with that eagerness to go out and explore the world and learn new things and see new things and have new experiences and explore different opportunities. So, the first thing that I did when I graduated was I travelled a lot. I travelled to different places, always with an intention. I wasn’t just sort of gallivanting around, there was always some sort of intention to my travel. It was a learning experience everywhere you go. After I travelled and settled down, I knew I wanted to go back to school so I started to apply to graduate programs. This year I got a job at two private high schools in Kits and I’m a teaching assistant and a lab technician. I help teach grades 11 and 12 science to high school students. Quest helped cultivate my passion for learning and being able to pass that on and express that through my work and working with high school students.
E: What do you think you got most out of Quest?
A: Quest gave me the skills to continue learning without Quest. After I graduated from school, I no longer had the support of this amazing community and the direct support of tutors or of counsellors. They gave me the skills to continue my own personal life-long education which I think was really valuable because […] in the real world you won’t have all that support that you have at Quest. You need to be able to produce students that are competent enough in their own intellectual ability to question things and to challenge things and I think Quest gave me that ability.
E: What do you think is the benefit of going to a small liberal arts and science university versus a large traditional university?
A: The benefit is definitely your peers, the fact that everyone has similar motivations and intentions, because if you chose Quest you’re obviously a specific type of person. Definitely there’s a certain species of student that comes to Quest. Just being around peers and that type of student really contributed to my educational experience. Being able to collaborate with likeminded people or even people with different perspectives but with the same sort of values regarding education. That was one thing that Quest really gave me. Also, the level of engagement and collaboration that you can have with tutors is just so unique. That was invaluable in the quality of my education.