How one international student balances engineering studies and a part-time job with his commitment to cricket.
Jean-Paul Rocke is passionate about cricket. The second-year electrical engineering student moved from his home in Trinidad and Tobago to study at Ryerson, but not before he knew there would be an opportunity to play his favourite sport in Canada.
“That was actually a big [part of the] decision,” Jean-Paul divulges. “That’s how I ended up choosing Ryerson University as my school of choice.”
The Ryerson recruitment officer who came to speak at his high school also influenced his decision. From checking in on how he was doing to answering his many questions via email, Jean-Paul felt like a valued member of the community, not just a number on an application.
“It made me feel like I was wanted,” he explains. “The Ryerson University officer – she just went above and beyond to reach out and communicate that extra length, and that helped me a lot with my decision.”
After enrolling in the engineering program, Jean-Paul successfully made the Ryerson cricket team, and discovered that his involvement opened up additional doors. From the Ryerson team, Jean-Paul was selected to play on the Canadian cricket team – a club team that participates in tournaments around the country – and from there he was scouted for national trials. After acing the tryouts, he made the national Canadian A team. As a team sport, the importance of strong relationships between players and coaches has enriched his university experience.
“Being a part of the Ryerson cricket team is like a family – we are one. We go out all the time as a group and we chill. It’s a strong bond that we have together and that’s one of my favourite things about. . . coming to university.”
While hockey tends to grab headlines as Canada’s favourite sport there is a growing grassroots interest in cricket, especially at the post-secondary level, which reflects Canada’s vibrant multiculturalism. In the long-term Jean-Paul and his teammates would like cricket to be recognized at the varsity level, an ongoing process involving other clubs and post-secondary institutions. For now, they are focused on training for North America’s biggest tournament: the American College Nationals. Cognizant of what it takes to juggle his many priorities – engineering labs and courses, a part-time job and multiple cricket team commitments – Jean-Paul credits his professors and coaches alongside the services offered by Ryerson, including International Student Support and Student Learning Support, with helping him achieve his goals.
“Ryerson offers a lot of support and a lot of aid to help students like me who play sports and [pursue an] education. . . because it’s very hard to balance both sport and education, especially in a rigorous course like engineering,” he shares. “I know not all [universities] do that, and I’m just happy that Ryerson offers that extra help to students who need it.”
Initially interested in medicine, Jean-Paul began studying biomedical engineering but realized during his first semester that electrical engineering was his right-fit program. He likes the discipline because it enables him to put theory into practice and develop valuable job-ready soft skills, such as communication and collaborative teamwork.
Choosing a career in engineering also means following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a mechanical engineer whom he describes as his “role model in life.” In addition to his professional path, Jean-Paul is inspired by his grandfather’s values and way of life. “He let me make the choice on my own, which was you know, [is] even more inspiring because most parents want their kids to do what they did.”
When Jean-Paul is not on the cricket pitch or in the classroom, he is working at the Good Food Centre, which strives to reduce food insecurity in the Ryerson community. Run by students for students, the operation gives Jean-Paul the chance to make a difference, something he considers a humbling opportunity and a chance to interact with community members outside of his day-to-day classes and cricket practices.
Coming from Trinidad and Tobago, Jean-Paul was excited to attend university in a big city, in a country that experiences different seasons. Aside from the rewarding education, he credits the meaningful connections with people and the inclusivity of the culture with making his time at Ryerson so fulfilling.
“The kind of relationships you build in a school like this, it’s so diverse. It’s very easy to fit in, very accommodating… it’s a one-time opportunity you have. I’m just happy that Ryerson University has that atmosphere to help students to fit in.”