If Courtney Lawson has one piece of advice for students enrolling in Toronto Film School, it’s to not wish your time in school away.
“Learning is such a luxury and it is THE most fun if you embrace it,” said the 32-year-old Oakville native, who was recently named valedictorian for this year’s Marketing for Fashion & Entertainment Diploma graduating class.
“At no other time in life will you be given more attention, feedback and opportunities to work on yourself. Once you’re out in the workforce, the focus shifts and you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be in a time that was purely focused on your own growth.”
For Lawson, it wasn’t until she landed at Toronto Film School – her second foray into post-secondary education – that she made that realization for herself.
While she enjoyed her time as a fresh-faced Psychology major at the University of Western Ontario after high school, Lawson said she never fully immersed herself in the experience because she was too eager to finish up and get on with her life.
After graduating, she moved to Toronto and started a career in events and hospitality – working for a number of event production companies, venues, and hospitality groups to create, execute, and sell events.
“I loved being involved in events. It was fast paced and different every day. I learned so much through real-world experience,” she said.
Still, Lawson said after eight years in the business, she’d reached a point in her life where she felt very “stuck” – both personally and professionally.
“I had considered going back to school, but it seemed impossible and I had thought of every possible reason why I couldn’t do it,” she said.
“…I struggle with holding myself back every day and it’s something I have to work on continuously. The biggest reason is just fear: fear of making a mistake, fear of what people will think, fear of looking stupid, and fear of exposing yourself.”
Then, Lawson discovered Toronto Film School’s Marketing for Fashion & Entertainment Diploma.
“While looking online one day, I reached out to Toronto Film School and was invited to come in for a visit almost instantly. The recruiter went through the program with me and it had so many elements I was looking for but had never realized I wanted,” she said, noting that she now loves working in trend research, brand building and marketing.
“It made so much more sense than any of the other directions I had considered going in. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and this program is so well rounded, you really leave with all the tools you need to start your own business.”
Lawson, whose ultimate goal is to work for herself one day, now sees her tenure at Toronto Film School as not only a time of great professional growth, but also one that saw her take many strides in her personal development.
“I started thinking of my time at school as a form of self-care and I put all my energy into my school work…I worked really hard to transform all the negative things that were happening around me and I used them to fuel my own personal growth,” she said.
“Taking on that perception and seeing how it’s rewarded me has changed my whole outlook on life. Things are going to happen to you that you don’t like, people are going to do things that cause you pain, but you can’t let that define how you live your life. All you can control is your reaction – and that’s incredibly powerful.”