Rayon Jackson | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Rayon Jackson


2022 MA Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Advice for Prospective Grad Students…

I would advise prospective graduate students to read ahead. There are a lot of materials to cover in each reading, and each person depending on where you are from, will understand the material from a different perspective. That being said, respect each other's opinion because though it might be different from yours, it is every bit as valuable. People come from areas with different customs and traditions that are unique. Students from the Caribbean will react to material differently than those in Latin America, and sometimes people in the same countries exhibit different outlooks; it is a uniquely diverse program. Additionally, it is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself outside cultures of your own. 

Allow yourself time to understand your work ethics in this new environment, especially if this is your first graduate program. Pace yourself, it is not a race; do not be afraid to ask questions because we are not experts yet. Do not feel that if you do not know something, it puts you at a disadvantage – you will learn. Your peers are all of the different backgrounds, do not measure your intelligence against theirs /others – you were chosen for this program based on your hard work. Feel confident, write confidently and pay attention to every point no matter how minor, and you will do fine. 

Also, start thinking about your research/thesis idea early, it is a long process, and the earlier you know what you are doing, the easier it will be to write.


Latin American and Caribbean Studies, MA

About the work I am doing here and how it could Improve Life?

I wrote on the Institutionalization Process of Jamaican Creole. I think that there is a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions attached to the indigenous way Jamaicans speak. Thus, I proposed to explore the notion of speech and its transition into written form within the early 2000s. It is a topic that has been discussed since the 1800s, and it transitioned into global error as an innovation. Thus, I found that it is a language that has gone through a history of suppression as the people/ speakers of the language experienced centuries of oppression. Nonetheless, it is a study worth completing because it sheds light on the progression of the language and the future of the continuation.

I have the opportunity to spread awareness that Jamaican Creole occupies the same space as any other language. Therefore, there will be a nuance in the experience using the language publicly, rather than the negative perceptions surrounding its public use.

Why I chose guelph...

Before attending the University of Guelph, I held a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English from York University. I was determined to upgrade to an Honors Bachelor of Arts (H.BA.). Every university I had approached required that I take a second degree in a similar field within their School of Arts, except for the University of Guelph. 

The University of Guelph is unique. Throughout all of the Greater Toronto Area, the University of Guelph is the only school that offers an Honors Equivalency Program, which allows individuals to take only relevant courses needed to complete the H.BA upgrade. My acceptance to the university was more fateful than it is a coincidence. I found the faculty to be accommodating and helpful. I could not imagine wanting to give up the level of one-to-one attention I received in my brief undergrad experience. The University of Guelph has prepared me for graduate studies beyond my expectation. Additionally, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program at the Master’s level is very rare across Canada, and it is the lack of access to this information garnered my interest in studying further at the University of Guelph. I choose to complete my graduate studies in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) at the University of Guelph because the accommodation, attention, and the support allowed me to feel like a person and not just a student number.

About my path to being a grad student at Guelph...

Gordana Yovanovich is the coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) Program. From the moment I showed interest in LACS, she set reasonable expectations about the program. She was regularly accommodating both through the application process and throughout the courses, whether or not it is the ones she teaches, and she is always quick to offer advice and solution. In addition, my graduate class was relatively small, which made it easy to hold each other accountable. We often discussed materials before classes and clarify our misunderstandings. There was a lot of reading in each class, but it was a rewarding experience making sure that the reading materials were always read in their entirety. My academic success is owed to the support of my families and friends, who assisted through motivation, editing and proofreading, and shared interest in my studies. Additionally, my classmates/ colleagues supported each other every step of the way; and each faculty made themselves available to address my concerns.

About working with my advisors…

I had the fantastic opportunity of being advised by three amazing professors. I love that they are always cautious in their suggestions, detailing the points I missed and need to improve. They are excellent in helping to flush out the relevant details. Their approach is admirable, and their expertise is exceptional. I could not have asked for /imagine a better committee. The interaction between my advisors and me help me to strengthen my insight on the project. 

About being a grad student at U of G…

Being a graduate student at UofGuelph is like a segment of a flight. You board, settling and put away your carry-ons; listen to flight demonstration as the aircraft moves slowly towards the runway. You reach the runway, and the aircraft accelerates and becomes airborne. While airborne, you sit uncomfortably, waiting for the airplane to reach cruising altitude. Finally, the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, and you finally got comfortable. The moment you get comfortable, you must prepare to descend for landing in a new destination. 

The flight destination is equivalent to moving from an undergrad classification to a graduate classification; the duration is one year. Boarding the flight is the equivalent to entering the classroom; we assessed our environment, the carry-ons being previous post-secondary knowledge. We are asked not to forget them but do not use them as a crutch because we are starting something new. The travel demonstration represents the professors’ expectations and courses, and programs guideline. Furthermore, taking off represents the introduction of new materials. At the same time, the cruising altitude builds on the information we know, and descent to land represents the final moments that include the wrapping up of the course and thesis writing. All of which can be stressful. However, the final destination offers a new environment in which to explore all our experiences. 

About future goals… 

I plan on working full-time while I work on my Ph.D. part-time. UofGuelph has helped me to become more engrossed in academia. Before this graduate study, I did not have the intention to go past teacher’s college. I have enjoyed my graduate program, and I am now ready to pursue Post Graduate studies.

About the campus and the city of Guelph…

The UofG Campus is a quiet, quintessential environment. I love the campus for two reasons: 1) it is smaller but easily comparable to York University, therefore getting accustomed to the UofG campus was not hard. 2) The campus buildings are like relics of times past and time present. Most campus buildings maintain a 1960s atmosphere, while other buildings are more reminiscent of their later built years. It offers a moment of brief transcendence to the past. It is a sublime feeling significantly when the seasons change.

I never took the opportunity to live in the City of Guelph, nor did I think it was necessary given that my hometown (Brampton) is relatively close. Driving into UofG is always a beautiful scene. I love that most of the area is agricultural.