Metro Learning Curve


Adam Yao, left, listens to Michael Hlinka, his instructor at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies.

Early fall triggers the student in all of us, and the Greater Toronto Area offers an amazing selection of continuing studies opportunities, says Marilynn Booth, director of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

“Finding the right program ... can lead you in directions you’d never anticipated before,” she says.

Adam Yao, 24, who is a student at the school, completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science in China in 2004. He came to Canada to study English, then switched to business courses. Last year he enrolled in the school’s preparation course for the first of three exams leading to the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

The CFA exams are a challenge, but Yao passed the first one with flying colours for which he credits his instructor, Michael Hlinka. He is now enrolled in the prep course for the second-level CFA exam, and plans to be just as prepared as he was first time around.

While he was comfortable with the material, learning in a new language can be intimidating, Yao says.

“International students whose English skills aren’t good will often stop talking, but then you lose touch with the Canadian community. I am here to learn, so I force myself to speak in class, even if I don’t always know the right words.”

Tony Gizzie has completed several professional development courses in connection with his job as Senior Manager, Global Risk Management (Spanish Caribbean/

Central America), with Scotiabank. This year, he’s starting something new. At 54 and contemplating future retirement, he wants to develop creative writing skills. His first course begins next month, and he plans to take the six courses required to complete the SCS Certificate in Creative Writing. His expectations are clear: “After completing my certificate, I hope to feel comfortable enough to write something that others will enjoy. That’s the goal.”

If he feels a touch nervous about sharing his creative side with strangers, Gizzie figures there will be others like him in class. “We’ll all be in the same boat. You have to take a chance; that’s how you learn.”

Retired teacher Sheryl Johnston has signed up to take three courses — one in nutrition and two in art history. “I’m taking art history to learn about certain artists whose works I will see when I visit Italy later in the year, and I’m taking the nutrition course because I hope to learn what’s good for you — it seems there’s nothing left that we can safely eat or drink.”

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