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Student of the Week: Jonathan Motha-Pollock

A recurring theme in the life of Jonathan Motha-Pollock is exploration of the world with an open mind. Although originally from Toronto, Ontario, he is looking forward to taking a year to travel following his graduation in April.

When making the decision to come to McGill for his undergraduate education, Montreal stood out because Motha-Pollock wanted to study in a major city outside his hometown. He liked Montreal when he visited, and was pleased to discover that the city has remained charming since living here.

“I didn’t want to go to a small-town university and I really liked Montreal as a city," Motha-Pollock said. "Its just a pretty and cool place to live.”

When applying, Motha-Pollock valued the size of McGill University and the numerous options he saw for himself as he entered a multi-track degree. He eventually settled on majoring in Cultural Studies with minors in French and Communications. He chose his major, which focuses on film theory and analysis, because it is an interdisciplinary stream that covers overlapping topics such as gender studies, race, and power relations.

“Since the degree is so diverse, I get to experience […] a whole bunch of different streams, departments, and courses,” Motha-Pollock said. “I like this kind of education because it creates the broad foundation that will eventually become the way I see the world.”

While acknowledging that it is a unique stream among his peers, Motha-Pollock points to the classes he has been able to take as a cultural studies major as the feature that has most defined his time at McGill thus far. He finds that people are shocked to hear the highly contemporary and topic-specific courses he is able to explore, such as a course he’s taking this semester on Netflix, and one he took last year on the Kennedy family.

“I have really enjoyed what I have been able to study, and I’m easily able to write papers on topics I’m passionate about, which is weirdly more rare than you would expect when you talk to people about what they’re taking,” said Motha-Pollock. “So, I think that’s lucky.”

When it comes to extra-curricular activities and clubs, Motha-Pollock has enjoyed his time participating in the McGill Debating Union (MDU), as well as working as a tutor for the essay center. Membership within the MDU is an extra-curricular activity that Motha-Pollock has come to value in his last two years at McGill for its engaging nature and the opportunity to learn and talk about topics ranging from popular culture to global politics.

“Debate is a great way to meet new people and talk about things that [I] wouldn’t necessarily have considered before, or issues that I’m not even certain where I stand on them yet,” Motha-Pollock said.  

Having recently added a part-time job to his plate in order to save money for his travel goals upon graduation, Motha-Pollock is enjoying a busy final semester at McGill, but not too busy to brainstorm where he plans to go. Areas around the world that are on his mind at the moment include South America—especially Peru because of rumours that Machu Picchu is going to close to the public, Tanzania to fulfill his desire to go on a safari, as well as various countries in and around Eastern Europe, simply because he has never been there before.



“I like to base myself in and explore an entire country. I really enjoy the idea of an extended cultural immersion trip […] and being able to do everything there is to offer as well as discover things off the beaten track.”

Having two parents who have both completed PhDs, he finds himself inspired by the way they own their passions. Motha-Pollock sees continued education in his future—possibly a Master’s program in film or communications—but for now he’s got travel on his brain. He takes pride in completing goals and being able to look back and reflect on what he has completed and achieved. As a soon-to-be graduate, he will certainly have plenty of upcoming time to meditate on his time at McGill—most likely somewhere on the other side of the globe.

When asked if there was one thing he wanted people who are meeting him for the first time through this article to know about himself and his character, Motha-Pollock was quick to reply in a light-hearted tone.

“There’s no better feeling in the world than returning from the restaurant bathroom to see that your food has arrived,” he said.



McGill Tribune (MT): If you could have a conversation with any person, dead or alive, whom would you choose?

Jonathan Motha-Pollock (JMP): I would say Joan Rivers. I’ve always been a fan of hers and I had hoped to see her live, so it was sad when she died. I think she was a very quick-witted, talented, and intelligent woman. Her stand-up is a hoot!

MT: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

JMP: Probably kulfi, an Indian ice cream my mother makes.

MT: Who is your favourite artist?

JMP: Right now…Troye Sivan.

MT: What is your favourite movie of the moment?

JMP: Jongens, a Dutch movie that portrays a really cute coming of age story about two gay teens.



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