Convocation ‘20: Mark Soriano

Words of Healing

Brooke MacCallum - 05 June 2020

Mark Soriano believes that the words we share can make a difference. A graduate of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Cooperative Education Program with a minor in Sociology, he became passionate about the importance of educating communities on mental health during his years of study.

While completing his final semester online due to COVID-19 has been a challenge for many students and their mental health, Mark shares that opening up to friends and family about your experiences during this time can help validate your feelings and show that you are not alone.

Mark’s future plans include moving to California and earning his master’s degree in social work, fulfilling his goal of helping others through life challenges.

What drew you to the area of your study?

I was initially drawn to Psychology to learn more about the human mind and the underlying mechanisms behind behaviour. Although I had already taken a few Psychology classes back in high school, I felt that there was much more that I had yet to discover. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I became especially passionate around the topic of mental health and community engagement. We’re seeing people become more comfortable in sharing their mental health stories and the importance of self-care in their lives. It’s truly heartwarming to see how we are growing as a community and learning the ways in which we can better support folks who are struggling with mental health concerns.

What is the most remarkable thing you learned while you were a student?

I would say that the most remarkable thing that I learned as a student is this idea that our words can carry so much weight in the world. We can use it to motivate, inform, and inspire others to action. Even the smallest interaction can have the biggest impact in someone’s life.

You are one of the first students to graduate from the Certificate in Applied Social Science Research. What did you learn from this experience?

I thoroughly enjoyed working towards the Certificate in Applied Social Science Research. This past semester, I worked on a major capstone project with Dr. Michelle Maroto as part of Sociology 415: Applied Research Internship. I had the opportunity to get hands-on research experience working in the nonprofit sector and to collaborate with other like-minded students in the social sciences. I believe that working on this research project greatly increased my knowledge on the affordable housing market and how public policies are implemented in real-world settings. Applied research allows for a wider range of learning opportunities that you might not get from basic research projects alone. You work towards developing solutions to real-world problems that clients and stakeholders are currently experiencing in the field. There is a greater emphasis on innovation and applicability in the work that you do.

Did you face any significant challenges during your program?

Prior to finishing my last semester at the university, I had completed a year-long internship as part of the Arts Work Experience program. I was able to focus on personal development and building strong connections with my colleagues. I remember feeling nervous about having to go back to a full-time student schedule and needing to write exams and papers again. Transitioning back into student life appeared challenging at first, but I learned to apply the problem-solving and project management skills that I had developed during my internship back into my academic coursework. It brought about a fresh perspective towards my courses that I would not have considered prior to taking on that internship.

How did you manage the challenges of navigating student life under COVID-19 restrictions and remote learning?

I believe that setting a detailed schedule for myself helps to provide structure in my life and keep myself motivated during this uncertain time. It can be easy to feel disconnected from the world when we are working from home. Whether it was through virtual movie nights or coffee dates, it was important for me to stay in contact with friends and family whenever possible. I found that talking to others and sharing our COVID-19 experiences really helped to validate our feelings towards the whole situation. It reminds us that we aren’t alone in navigating through these difficult times. These restrictions create unique predicaments for everyone, and it requires us to be creative in how we engage in self-care strategies.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you started?

It’s okay not to have everything figured out right away! Life can get messy and it’s important to be kind and patient with yourself when things get rough.


The Future is Arts! This story is part of a series celebrating our graduates. Please join us for a virtual convocation, Friday, June 12, at 10 a.m. MST. at Registration is not required.