Award Recipients’ Insights: Damla Yildiz and Inclusive Spaces

Damla Yildiz is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Tri-Mentoring Program Community Builder Award

I believe my passion for ensuring an inclusive space was very evident in the Tri-Mentoring office. It’s important for me to know that students feel comfortable while they are at our office, and therefore any actions or words that may cause them to leave had to be eliminated. I advocated this a lot during my first few months of working with TMP, and later on decided to create a workshop on encouraging inclusive/anti-oppressive language. That was my way of letting students know that sometimes the language we use, the words we choose, or the phrases we use, are actually oppressive and can have a negative impact on others. It was a learning experience for all of us, and I believe students felt very strongly about the topic. I think the people I work with noticed me put in effort in terms of encouraging positivity and inclusivity within Ryerson. These experiences have shaped me to be a more humble person. I’m studying Social Work, and in Social Work we are taught to be critical thinkers in order to properly understand the people we work with. I think this was something that I was doing and am still doing while working with TMP. I am able to further understand those who I originally wouldn’t have, and because I am able to understand the individual, I don’t make assumptions which can be oppressive.

damla pic

When I checked my email and saw that I was being congratulated for winning an award, I was in shock. I was not expecting it. I felt very emotional, I started tearing up and I can confidentially say that, those tears were from joy. I always doubt myself in the work that I do, and this award reassured me. It told me that I am on the right track. To be recognized, to know that people were impacted by my support, is truly heartwarming.

This award will definitely be beneficial for me in terms of my career. When Social Work agencies see that I am a community builder who strongly follows the anti-oppressive framework, that I encourage inclusivity and support at all times, I may have a higher chance of getting the jobs I would like work in. It shows that I am able to work within a team, a community, and this is a skill that every agency would like to see. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

I believe being successful at Ryerson is about putting in effort and trying, even if at the end it doesn’t work out the way we want it to. Yes we lose money when we end up dropping a course, however learning is a lot more valuable than money. If at the end of the semester we feel like we really haven’t learned anything from the classes we were taking, then what is the point? It shouldn’t only be about getting high grades and finishing school as soon as possible. Ryerson should be a place where you take your time to learn, do well, and get involved on campus. I think that joining clubs, sports, and programs such as TMP can really make your Ryerson journey enjoyable! The people who work with you support you in being successful in any way possible, and that’s what we need in order to be successful, to surround ourselves with people who care for us.