Jennifer, parent to Nicole Zanesco ‘19
What was your initial impression of Quest?
I was very interested in the unique nature of Quest. I was most drawn to the opportunity for Nicole to design her own undergraduate experience, which would be very different from what Nicole’s peers were going to experience at the larger Canadian and American Universities. I thought the small class size, interdisciplinary nature of the degree, and focus on leadership and teamwork were all essential for young people who hoped to not only enter the workforce and society, but who also hoped to reshape them into something bolder and better.
Why did you decide on this university?
When I researched Quest, I felt the education would surpass what Nicole would get at other programs.
The opportunity to write a personalized Question and to work across disciplines to answer the Question is not only a challenge to standard educational models, but a challenge to the student. By being so different, Quest asks its students if they can take on the challenge and not only succeed but thrive. This appealed to both of me and my daughter as it represented a chance not only to get a degree, but build a degree, and in the process build what kind of a person you want to be.
In the end Quest was the only school Nicole applied to.
On hindsight, why was this the right place for your daughter?
Quest was not just the best place, but the only place for Nicole. The world is more connected than it’s ever been, and more complicated than it’s ever been. It’s not enough to memorize and repeat information. It’s essential for young people to be able to understand, synthesize, and question the knowledge presented to them. It is important to be of value to your community (local and global), and do that you can’t just accept the status quo, but must question and rebuild it. This ability to understand, question, and imagine an alternative is why I think Quest is so valuable.
How did your child grow during their time at Quest?
Quest taught my daughter to see and understand multiple perspectives on a range of issues, and to maneuver through conflicting perspectives to get to the heart of a problem. This skill requires critical thinking, empathy, and an ability to understand the nuances of topics and people’s lived experiences. To be able to do this, at such a young age, is remarkable and is crucial for anyone hoping to work towards solving major global issues — or even just looking to mediate everyday crises and conflicts.
If you had to briefly describe the best things about Quest, what would they be?
There is the educational aspect, and the community aspect. Nicole was able to try new subjects, go on Field Studies abroad, and start and scrap Keystone projects until she found what she was most passionate about. Having a Faculty Mentor who was committed to guiding her through this process made a huge difference. Quest’s model of having students work closely with professors is invaluable.
As for community, there are endless opportunities to participate in initiatives, events, and student and university leadership. Nicole got to work within diverse teams, from Events, to Student Government, to the University Board of Governors, and that’s the kind of experience that stays with someone their whole professional and personal lives.
What would you say to parents who are considering Quest?
Quest is a school for people who are frustrated with what is normal, uncritical, and impersonal. It provides space for students to explore disciplines they’ve never heard of, visit continents they never dreamed of, and foster passions and friendships that will last a lifetime. The diversity of exceptional projects and students that come out of Quest is impressive in its own right, with students at Oxford, Queens, LSE, UBC and working all over the world — but the knowledge set and ability to learn and think critically and passionately is something more important than a CV as it accompanies you throughout your life and helps you tackle every challenge. Quest helps students “stretch their container” and prepares them to enter a world in desperate need of new ideas not as an observer or quiet participant, but as a leader.