How have you been a leader at the University of Calgary? What qualities do all good student leaders possess?
Leadership is the ability to unite people of all backgrounds, inspiring them to work towards social improvement. Strong leaders are sensitive to the needs of others yet also willing to take charge to get the job done.
It is essential for leaders to consistently walk the talk by working hard and setting an example for the entire team. Impactful leadership relies upon clear communication; the ability to unite people towards one common goal; the flexibility to self-improve by holding one’s self to high standards and positively receive constructive criticism; and ultimately an ambitious hunger to succeed.
My journey at the U of C includes a plethora of exciting initiatives. A prime example would be establishing and running the School of Public Policy Student Association during my third year. As President and Founder, I was relentless in seeking out new resources and opportunities for the association, constantly building bridges with individuals and organizations in order to expand the group's reach. I drew in students of diverse disciplines, university faculty, and community leaders seeking opportunities to represent the interests of students and bring the exciting world of policy to campus.
Last year I served as Coordinator for the Student Union’s Campus Food Bank. This was a humbling experience. I worked with an incredible team of staff and volunteers to provide crucial support to the campus at large. Collaborating with clients, donors, the media and the Student Union was an opportunity to serve the greater good through a compassionate focus to build a stronger campus.
I firmly uphold that leaders are responsible for mentoring others. Therefore I currently mentor a colleague student through my faculty’s Senior Buddy Program and I have served as U of C Orientation Leader, Bachelor of Health Sciences Orientation Leader, class-student representative and held other exciting positions throughout my U of C degree, such as organizing fundraising teams with my colleagues to raise thousands of dollars for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
How have you been involved in the community during your university career?
Social entrepreneurship is my addiction. When I entered the U of C I was running Spread the Love, a local volunteer organization tackling Canadian food insecurity. At the U of C I established and incorporated Spread the Love as non-profit organization with a mandate to combat hunger through the simple power of the sandwich. I built Spread the Love across Calgary, then subsequently across Alberta and finally drove it national to three provinces. We have mobilized 70 schools, universities and non-profits in providing over 70,000 sandwiches and 1.5 tones of non-perishables to Canada's hungry.
As an example, during second year I led Spread the Love in collaborating with Alberta’s Credit Unions. The result? Over 32 credit union branches (bank branches) held Spread the Love fundraisers and volunteer-run events across the province.
Spread the Love has taught me that sometimes all you need is a simple vision to unite the community in implementing critical social change.
Through my passion in bridging youth to the backyard crisis of Canadian poverty, I have been invited to work with other organizations. I sat on the Calgary Stampede’s Western Legacy Award Committee as their youngest member. Currently I am Board Director at TELUS’s Calgary Community Board, a three-year term with a 1.5 million budget to sustaining local charities. Also, I sit on two Student Union committees.
How have you balanced school with your other commitments on campus and in the community?
I like to think there are three “pillars” to balancing campus and community life. First, keep in the company of good friends who support you, offer perspective and keep you motivated. Second, keep the big picture in mind. Why are you at university? What do you want to learn? Third, and most importantly, be active. Your body takes your head to the classroom. Throughout the years the U of C gym, runs by the Bow River and Shotokan karate training have proven excellent for sharpening my mind and blowing off some steam!
University is what you make it, so how have you been making the most of your university career?
University is once in a life opportunity to shape your future. So get involved. And be different. Take classes that interest you. Try new sports. Start a campus club. Fundraise for a charity. Mentor a student. Make new friends. Study hard. Get to know your professors. Learn from your mistakes. Build a network of support. Challenge the status quo. I did, and I would do it all over again.
Class Ambassadors are permanent representatives of their graduating class. What is the role of University of Calgary alumni in the community and how will you represent the university to alumni and future alumni?
University of Calgary alumni hold the responsibility and privilege to foster life long learning and exploration for both current students and alumni. It is also critical to transcend this mission to the broader community, as the U of C is a cornerstone to the fabric of Calgary’s success, Alberta’s future and Canada’s role on the global scale. I aspire to not just talk the talk, but also to walk the talk. As a U of C alumnus, I will remain an active ambassador for the institution that has played a pivotal role of developing who I am today.