Transition Year Program

By Genevieve MacIntyre

When Dartmouth-born Jazmine Dewtie first considered following in the footsteps of her mother to pursue a degree in nursing at Dalhousie, she had some hesitations. Admitting she didn’t apply herself as well as she could have in high school, she struggled to see herself in that environment.

“I never thought I was smart enough for university and never thought I could achieve a degree,” says Dewtie. She’s now just a few credits away from proving herself wrong.

After working as a certified continuing care assistant for three years, Dewtie realized she felt most fulfilled when talking with people and supporting them in that way. She began to explore alternate career options.

On the advice of a family friend, Dewtie, who is biracial, applied for Dalhousie’s Transition Year Program (TYP) – which promotes the successful participation of Black and Indigenous students at Dal – as a means of transitioning to life as an undergraduate student after being out of school for some time. While studying in the TYP, she made connections with other Black students and learned more about her African Nova Scotian heritage, something that has significantly influenced her academic and career interests. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, with its wide array of courses and opportunities, has proved the ideal environment for exploring different areas and building on the foundation she gained.

Dalhousie donors helped to stay the course

Dewtie received a tuition waiver for completing the TYP, but she still struggled financially and worked two jobs to keep up with her rent and bills. She felt overwhelmed and questioned whether she would be able to continue to support herself on her new path. It wasn’t until her third year that she looked into supplemental assistance opportunities, a move she wishes she had made sooner.

“This help gave me immediate relief at a moment when I really needed it,” she says. “Knowing that Dal’s community of friends and supporters believed in my success and wanted me to be here has been a huge encouragement.” The bursaries Dewtie received allowed her to apply herself fully and continue her studies, with the added bonus of not having to sacrifice athletic pursuits.

Many of the bursaries and scholarships available to students are funded by annual gifts from alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hopes to create more equity-based opportunities through new scholarships for Black and Indigenous students, a cause they are asking donors to support with their donations this year. The Dalhousie Fund brought in more than $4.8 million for students last year.

Now in the fifth and final year of her BA, Dewtie is successfully completing a major in Sociology and Social Anthropology with a minor in Black and African Diaspora Studies. She hopes to move on to a master’s degree in social work.

Pivoting to another “helping” profession

Dewtie says Dalhousie’s network of support has completely changed her life. Her undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have given her the tools to identify and work toward a career goal she is well-suited to. She first considered psychology, but ultimately landed on another helping profession: social work.

Growing up, Dewtie frequently visited the African Nova Scotian side of her family, her father’s side. It was during time spent with her grandmother, who fostered children, that she first became aware of how structural forces impact different communities in different ways.

“[These visits] exposed me to how other children grew up and how they struggled through the system,” she explains. “This was also when I first learned about the role of a social worker.” As she has worked her way through her degree, she realized that this profession would align completely with her values and the interpersonal skills that come natural to her.

Dewtie is motivated by the idea that the justice system can do better to protect children, and hopes that this career path will allow her to make a positive impact, particularly within the Black community. “I am passionate about being in social work because I love to help others, solve problems, volunteer my time with organizations and make sure children are taken care of healthily and safely.”

She encourages students to apply for any award or bursary opportunity they may be eligible for, reflecting on the transformative difference donor support made to her at a critical juncture when financial strain stood in the way of her goals.

“Money problems are a problematic factor for many students. I am grateful for the opportunities that Dalhousie donors ensure students have access to.”

The Dalhousie Fund helps create outstanding learning experiences and connects students with scholarships, bursaries and other important resources. This year, donations to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will fund new scholarship support for Black and Indigenous students. You can empower students to make the most of this formative time by making a gift today.