Rachel is the 2015-2016 recipient of the OVPS Community Development Award
Being involved at university can be intimidating. From the constant stress of putting too much on your own plate to the intensity that we sometimes see through media and social media it can definitely be overwhelming. But let me be the first to tell you that although those things sometimes come with student involvement, there is so much more than that. From being surrounded by some of the most passionate people on campus, to seeing some of the most innovative and collaborative projects happening at universities across the country, to seeing the smiles and hearing the thank yous from those you’ve been able to support, being part of the Ryerson community through a student group or union is a game changer. The connections that can be made by simply slipping into the behind the scenes allows you to jump into many of positions in the never ending number of student groups – in other words, the doors just continue to open and, for that reason alone, I think it’s safe to say once you step into the student involvement community, not only do you build it, but it builds you.
That is exactly what happened to me. After finishing first year and feeling like I needed something else to compliment my classes and part time job, I signed up to be Second Year Representative on the Creative Industries Course Union, a fairly simple feat. But, to my surprise, that is where I learned the ins and outs of a student group and how to run one effectively. Being an executive in the first year of RMTC showed me the perseverance and passion required for success in a startup. Starting Ryerson PEAC taught me the value of a team and the importance of partnerships. Being a member of the Residence Service Desk team taught me about building relationships with a range of people from first years to fourth years to supervisors and the general public. In each of these places I learned when to be patient and when to be assertive, when to speak and when to listen, and how to push for things I believed were right and when to drop my own feelings and support someone else’s. Working with different teams helped me learn to pay attention to the individuals of those teams. And to top it all off, I met some of my best friends who support me and my endeavours to this day, through student involvement. I am a different person from the day I stepped into the first meeting of the CICU and that is because Ryerson is a school of talkers, planners, connectors, listeners, helpers and collaborators. Its student involvement is filled with dozens of young adults who are pushing boundaries, lending hands, and providing opportunities. To be noticed among these role models, these individuals who gave me advice, offered help, and supported all the paths I’ve taken thus far, is a true honour to me.
To quote Tolkien (perhaps because I’m currently in New Zealand), “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” As this has continuously been finding its way to the front of my mind lately, I feel as though it perfectly describes student involvement at Ryerson as it has provided me, and will continue to provide students year after year, with an exceptional array of opportunities and successes to decide from for our time in its community.