A former esthetician, U of T grad looks forward to pursuing a new career as a lawyer

Kavery Bedar went through the Academic Bridging Program at Woodsworth College as a mature student before earning her honours bachelor of arts degree

Kavery Bedar quit her job as an esthetician to further her education at U of T – and is now looking forward to starting law school in the fall (supplied image)

For Kavery Bedar, convocation marked the next step in a major career change from esthetician to future lawyer.

Bedar, who completed the Academic Bridging Program at Woodsworth College prior to starting her undergraduate degree, graduated with her honours bachelor of arts with a major in history and minors in sociology and critical studies in equity and solidarity.

Her accomplishments include her work on the hidden homelessness research and outreach project at Sistering, a non-profit organization and women's shelter, which was carried out in partnership with U of T’s Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project. The project led to the creation of a tool to assist women and gender-diverse people experiencing hidden homelessness in Toronto.

Bedar recently received her admission to Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. She spoke to Faculty of Arts & Science writer Coby Zucker about her decision to come to U of T, her experiences as a mature student and her ambitions for the future.

What made you decide to pursue your degree as a mature student?

After high school, I jumped into work. I worked as a makeup artist for about seven years, and then I transitioned to being an esthetician. I quit in February and although it was a fulfilling career, I couldn't see myself in it for another 20 years.

I felt like if I didn’t ever try, I would regret it. I don't mind trying and failing, but I think the biggest regret would have been not trying. Ultimately, it was about following my heart and then laying out a step-by-step action plan on how to achieve my dream.

How was your experience at the Academic Bridging Program at Woodsworth?

Coming in, I was really nervous. Would I be able to succeed? It's been a long time since I wrote an essay or did academic reading. I also was not a very strong student in high school. So even though I had the determination and the passion, I didn't know if I had the skills. The Academic Bridging Program really instilled those fundamental skills, like how to read an academic paper. They made me feel like there is no stupid question.

Can you tell us about Sistering and your work there as a community liaison?

Sistering is a 24-hour women's drop-in shelter. We serve women and gender diverse folks experiencing homelessness, poverty, social isolation and food insecurity. It's an amazing organization. My interest in the position also came from the social advocacy piece. After my undergrad, I’m going to law school – and the goal was always to do some type of human rights law or some type of social advocacy in my work. Hence why I quit the salon and now work full-time at Sistering. It aligns well with my career-change goal.

Were there any professors or courses that stood out to you as you reflect on your degree?

There are two professors specifically that I will carry in my heart forever. One is Jon Johnson. He was my professor in the Academic Bridging Program. He's been a great role model on how to think about social justice issues, how to talk about social justice issues and how to do it in a human, empathetic way.

Another professor who is just such a joy to be around is Nakanyike Musisi, who specializes in African history. When I got into law school, she actually got me a cake saying ‘Congratulations.’ She celebrated our achievements and our successes. In her fourth-year seminar, she challenged us to think deeper. And she just created this warm, fuzzy community in this massive institution.

Do you have any advice for others considering earning a degree as a mature student?

I would say just go for it. Just do it. It might not work for everyone but for me, the fear of trying something new is worth the risk because the payoff can be so amazing. The fact that I am actually going to go to law school is amazing to me. Nobody thought I could do it.

And really advocate for yourself. If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that although folks want what's best for you, sometimes they don't know what's best for you. You are the expert of your life. Advocate for yourself, especially for women, who are sometimes socialized to not talk as loud or be as open.

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