Alwyn Phillips, Caribbean Studies program alumnusDescribe yourself in 100 words or less.

I was born and raised in east Toronto, in a neighbourhood popular for crime and gang activity.  In my late adolescence and early adulthood, my commitment to and passion for music helped me to defy the odds and avoid becoming yet another statistic.  In 2003, my group and I released an album with Universal Canada and Avatar Records in the United States.  The album was subsequently nominated for a Juno and several other awards.  In 2006 I decided to channel my talents towards the pursuit of a law degree, and am currently in my final year at Osgoode Hall Law School.  I am scheduled for graduation in June 2013.

What are the accomplishments (personal or professional) of which you are most proud?

I am most proud of my successful transition from the life of a musician to the life of a student and professional.  This transition has presented unique opportunities to create a positive difference in my community and I am proud to be able to contribute in such a capacity.

What is your fondest memory from your time at the UofT?

My fondest memory from my time at UofT is the Caribbean Studies independent project I completed under the supervision of Professors Alissa Trotz and Christian Campbell.  The project consisted of the writing, producing and recording of hip hop songs, using content from the Caribbean Studies program as the basis for lyrical content.  This allowed me to bridge the gap between my creative and academic aspirations.

Why did you choose the Caribbean Studies program?

My familial ties to the Caribbean fuel my interest in the region and its diaspora.  I began my undergraduate career in the Political Science program, but after two years of Political Science, I desired an in-depth critical analysis of my areas of interest.  The Caribbean Studies program provided me with a safe space to explore and engage in such critical scholarship with similar-minded colleagues and professors

Did your experience with the program influence your career path after graduating? If so, in what ways?

Upon commencing my Bachelors degree at UofT, I knew that I would subsequently apply for law school.  The Caribbean Studies program brought to light both the historical and contemporary roles that the law played and continues to play in shaping the existence of the Caribbean region and its diaspora.  This knowledge weighs heavy on my mind as I continue to determine my area of legal practice.  One of my goals is to use my law degree to help facilitate positive growth within the Caribbean diaspora.

Do you have any advice for future students who may be considering the Caribbean Studies program?

My advice to future students who may be considering the Caribbean Studies program is to visit and speak with the professors of the program, and to contact past or current students to discuss their experiences in the program.  The professors are brilliant and engaging, and the students often describe their experience in the program as life-changing.  By speaking with the professors and past or current students you will be able to gain a clear perspective of the value of the Caribbean Studies program experience.