By: Ahmad Galuta
Tell us a little bit about yourself including your background and upbringing!
"Background-wise, my dad escaped Iran during the revolution, literally on Horseback, and came to Canada during a really turbulent immigration journey. I was really lucky to be born and raised in Ottawa my whole life. I went through life and got a really nice Canadian experience. My parents were very good at giving me all of that and so I fell in love with I guess two things one being piano and the other being Science. So I did my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ottawa and then added on a minor in music. I've since graduated and I'm moving on to do and medical degree at the University of Toronto."
As a science student, you have lots of experience in arts and music. How did combining your two passions have on the output of either?
"I think it made me better at both things because on the music side I was able to understand more of the brain action and the psychology that goes behind the music as well as teaching music so that added a whole level to how I understood music; Less of art and more of a whole human experience. The same goes for Science, it took me out of that mindset where it's very fixed in that we can only study proteins in the human body and stuff like that and it showed me that there can be a lot of creativity in science as well, so I really enjoy that."
What motivates you to run your own piano tutoring company music and non-for-profit organization Dolce Academy of Music?
"Those are just two things I love doing and it honestly doesn't ever feel like I'm working a job
when I do either of those things. I started teaching piano when I was 14 and I guess at that point it was more of a job. I've always been interested in teaching but at that point, I was thinking “OK, I'm going into Highschool, I need a job”, so I started teaching and I absolutely loved it. Not going to lie, I enjoy teaching more than I enjoy performing so that's why I've been doing it for seven years! I've had students that I've been teaching for seven years and creating that rapport and watching them grow; from not even being able to play the keys properly to playing whole songs and knowing I was a catalyst and bringing that to them is amazing. Also, Dolce came about when I started accidentally teaching a child with special needs. That really changed me as a musician where I had to rethink completely the way I teach and I had to rethink what I think are easy aspects to teach another child but also giving them a safe space to learn where a lot of other music studios don't. That was really important to me and also something I really enjoy."
Getting into the top medical school in Canada directly from the third year of undergrad is by no means an easy feat. What's your secret sauce?
"It's been a long, secret sauce! If I had to attribute it to one thing, I would say just following
my passions. Like I mentioned before, adding in the music degree, taking on research that I’ve
been passionate about, taking on activities that I've really been passionate about, and really
doing things that capture my curiosity. That has been 100% key to creating who I am today. I like
to think that throughout this application process that's what's important to them (medical school), obviously besides GPA and your typical academic stuff."
What do you think educational systems should look like in the future or, in other words, what
change would you make today if you could?
"I have a very lengthy opinion about how many changes are needed in the educational system, but first and foremost, is the way that we test knowledge. I think everyone can agree that we've
gotten to a point where many many many students feel like they're absolutely defined by their GPA and all the work they go through is just to answer the question “how do I get the GPA that I want” and they’re not so focused on what they’re actually gaining from this experience and what they’re learning. I think a lot of that has to do with the testing, where we have one or two midterms and a final exam. There’s a lot of rote memorization. What I'd really like to see is more assignment-based and case-based learning where we're given challenging problems, that would be too challenging to solve in a 40-minute test that you would solve in class, but a challenge that you can solve by doing research, by finding more information on your own, and really thinking and having to understand the topic to come up with a creative solution. That's what I would really like to see in the future."