LEVEL-UP: Making Second Chances Count

Two years ago, I decided not only to transfer universities but also programs. This means I had to start all over again at Ryerson University. However, I was determined to use my experience as a first-year student, from the first time around, to make different choices for myself. One thing I regretted was I didn’t get involved on-campus at my first school. My excuses were that there wasn’t anything that caught my attention to invest my energy in and that I should just focus on my classes for now. Looking back, I don’t think I have any fond memories from my time there. All I did was go to class then return back home.

Fast forward to getting accepted to Ryerson, I knew better and knew this was my fresh start. Before, I wasn’t confident in myself to take on important roles and responsibilities. But I couldn’t let that stop me from getting out my comfort zone. If I was ever going to grow out of my shell I needed to try something new and learn from it. So, even before classes started, I took initiative to research my options. I began to explore all what was happening on campus through ConnectRU and learned the opportunities to get involved were limitless here. I thought maybe this time I could find my place at university.

One of my first attempts to get involved didn’t go as planned, though. The student groups within my faculty seemed really cool. Everyone just looked like they knew what they were doing with their lives and they seemed so sure of themselves. I wanted to try and see if I could be part of that experience. So, I signed up for a meet and greet with one student group and was ready to take on what was next. I was actually excited for this and I even arrived early. However, I noticed how different I was from them, from the way they dressed to how they behaved. Sure, this isn’t a big deal, only for the fact that I didn’t feel like I could “belong” there and fit in – and that intimidated me. I let my social anxiety and insecurities get the best of me and I left before the event even started. You see, it’s tough being a shy introvert!

This made me realize that I had to work on my self-confidence first. I started by giving myself permission to go my own pace on my journey to personal development. It’s true that in the past when I didn’t find anything I liked or that I could see myself being a part of, I didn’t engage with extra-curricular activities, but I think that is a completely valid reason. If something isn’t a good fit for you then don’t force yourself. So, I forgave myself for backing out that one time in order to thrive in my next challenge.

On my next try, I came across RU Leadership’s Lead BLUE and GOLD program, a two-tiered leadership program, providing, tracking, and recognizing student leadership activity on and off-campus. Through this, I, once again, motivated myself to attend other events and activities. I went to RU Leadership’s “Maximize Your Own Potential” Leadership Conference and Ryerson Hub for Business Analytics Case Competition, my very first conference and case competition of any kind. Then, I took further baby steps and became a Tri-mentoring Program (TMP) Mentee and a Volunteer Note-Taker at RU Noted. Still, I had this eagerness to make a difference and positive impact in my community. I had barely channeled that into anything productive before Ryerson – so I reached out to the student union. I began going to every collective meeting that the Centre for Women and Trans People had and opened my eyes to social justice, activism, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Within that one year I learned so much, not only about the campus but also about myself. I realized I had value to add to Ryerson and in turn I was empowered to continue getting involved.

First year was my foundation to my new found passion for campus engagement. I returned to a new year and become a mentor at TMP. Then, I grew my passion for social justice as a call volunteer at the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line. Moreover, I now work as a Student Leadership Assistant at RU Leadership. It’s funny that I’m part of planning the same programs and events at RU Leadership that helped with my own personal development so far; coming full circle, I’m helping other students similarly get involved.

After taking advantage of five conferences, countless workshops, and opportunities to get involved I am more confident than ever. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for improvement but what I have gained so far is because of my involvement. If I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone or challenged myself to experience new things then I would’ve remained the same insecure person that left that student group event feeling out of place. It really does sound cheesy and cliche but by getting involved you are opening new doors for yourself. It is a way for you to make new connections, improve your self-esteem and discover your potential!

by Samia Kamaluddin, 3rd year at School of Accounting and Finance and a transfer student from Life Sciences at UTM; Samia is a Student Leadership Assistant with RU Leadership and loves K-pop, bubble tea, and sleep.