The Student Becomes the Master with Dylan Cunanan
Imagine graduating from university and one year later becoming a college professor at only 22 years old? Age really is just a number and when you have a passion for education like Dylan Cunanan does, anything is possible. With his 4.8 out of 5 rating on RateMyProfessor.com and the growing thread of positive comments, it is clear Cunanan is a down-to-Earth professor who cares for his students.
Cunanan entered the media studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber knowing he would pursue a career in a creative field but it was unclear to him what role or job title it would be.
Things shifted for Cunanan after working on campus in Academic Advising and Career Counselling Centre. He felt like abandoning the idea of a career in the media industry and even considered pursuing a teaching degree instead, but then he began his specialization in visual communications in his third year.
“I just want to change the world around me in any capacity and I never felt I could do that through media but then I did and here I am,” Cunanan said.
The biggest takeaway he has from the media studies program is understanding how complex the media is, especially in a global context. He learned that people’s different backgrounds and experiences will change their perspective on how they view the world. Cunanan expressed how important it is to learn to separate your own biases from the content that you create.
After Cunanan finished working on the Emerge print magazine last March, he needed to find work. Although he had a lot of experience working in the media, after the pandemic hit, he felt the world was very unsteady. He got a part-time job at Canadian Tire, which was extremely humbling but it made him realize he could pursue a job in the media field, if only he believed in his capabilities.
“I just felt like I didn’t trust myself enough that I was capable of doing an actual profession in media just yet but I was,” said Cunanan. “I did the work, I put in the time and effort and I just needed to trust myself and apply.”
Cunanan completed his master’s degree in media production at Ryerson University which led him to teach at Humber College and becoming a design foundation professor at his young age.
While he’s proud to be a professor, Cunanan said it has been difficult being taken seriously in the world of academia. People didn’t take his experience gained in school seriously, especially while he was pursuing a master’s degree alongside people with decades of work experience.
“I think that was the biggest roadblock,” he said. “Being taken seriously when I think I have good ideas but in terms of credibility, that comes with time.”
Teaching his students virtually during the pandemic has been a different experience for Cunanan. Having never done virtual learning himself as a student, he said online learning has its challenges but he’s happy his students can still pursue an education virtually which goes to show learning has no boundaries.
“I just miss the connection you make in person,” said Cunanan. “It’s one thing to engage students online through a chat box or having their videos open but to hear them laugh, to hear them connect with each other, [and] interact with me personally was far better.”
His advice to future students is to take risks. Know you will fail and make mistakes, but remember to remain resilient. He also recommends taking your time. Your time in school gives you the opportunity to work on projects with peers and be taught by knowledgeable professors.
“To struggle in something through education, through an experience, that’s a privilege of itself. Not everyone has that privilege and we take advantage of it because that’s something we’ve had for the majority of our life,” said Cunanan.
His final piece of advice is to trust your process. Put in the time to gain your credentials, build work experience and land your internship, so whenever you doubt yourself or your abilities, you can recognize your worth and that you have it in you. You just have to go for it.
Connect with Dylan!