What’s Your Why: A Commitment for Change

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera

This blog post is the first installment of What’s Your Why, a new blog series aimed at highlighting the importance of connecting back to the “why” that drives you and the work you are involved in. Each post is a written reflection from our team members, who took the time to graciously share their passions and purposes that drove them to their particular work at the Innovation Hub. We hope these stories inspire you to take a moment to reflect on your own individual “why”.  

The role of a Content Writer at the Innovation Hub is to plan and develop engaging written content in a way that is accessible to the community.

Written By: Betelehem Gulilat, Content Writer  

If you were to tell me two years ago today that I would be working as a Content Writer at the Innovation Hub, I would tell you I’m surprised but not completely. The summer of 2020 was a tough pill to swallow. The long-standing racism and systemic oppression in society were loud and abundantly clear. This time with no place to hide. I wondered how much progress have we truly made as a society toward positive social change. And personally, how much contribution have I truly made? 

After receiving an email about a work-study opportunity that could be something of interest, I came across the Innovation Hub. I remember contemplating whether I would be the ideal person for this role – especially coming from a pharmacy background. I would have lots of explaining to do.

Days later the opportunity crossed my screen again and could not pass it up. The Innovation Hub’s mission in improving campus life using equity & empathy-based approaches aligned with my values and commitment to change. I took a leap of faith and applied. It was that leap that paved the way for my two-year journey with the Innovation Hub. To say this journey has been a meaningful experience is an understatement. 

As a Content Writer, I curate the Innovation Hub’s blog, write, and edit content, interview students and staff, and find space for dialogue. You may be thinking this sounds exactly like what the role would entail. But there is a wider responsibility I find that comes with each role at the Innovation Hub. There is a sense of honour, purpose, and gratitude. 

Honour, Purpose & Gratitude  

A heart hovering above an outstretched hand

The honour to be entrusted in a space of vulnerability to listen to students’ personal stories and experiences. When interviewing students, it is an opportunity to listen beyond the words being spoken, and to be immersed in dialogue to better understand, inquire, and empathize with students and their lived experiences. It is in these moments that I have embraced different perspectives, uncovered student needs, and understood just how diverse and nuanced the student experience can really be.  

There is also a purpose in ensuring student voices are not only preserved but amplified in a way where students feel seen, heard, and understood. Working alongside students with a shared purpose of designing an equitable campus experience drives you to continue developing accessible content that sparks discussion, feedback, and ideas for change. Below are a few of many inspiring and insightful posts I had the privilege to share – from project insights, interviews to student reflections – there is always something to learn from our diverse U of T community. 

  • Food Security: The Key to Student Self-Fulfillment: A post in collaboration with the Food Security Project Team sharing the findings on how food insecurity affects students’ academic, health, and overall well-being. A list of design principles is also provided for ways we can foster food security in our communities.  
  • What’s Your Greatest Comeback Story?: A series of personal anecdotes from students across U of T demonstrating resilience in moments of adversity and sharing proof that there is no singular path to success.  
  • Designing Virtual Spaces with Accessibility in Mind: A post in collaboration with Phillipa Gosine, discussing the challenges of virtual learning and ways to incorporate accessibility in virtual classroom spaces to support learners and professors.    

Working in a space that values the diverse identities of students is something I have gratitude for. Seeing the visual designs, reading the reports and project insights, and having meaningful conversations with students along the way has been such an enriching experience. I am also grateful to be in a space that embraces failure and expects iteration. As a student, I often view success as avoiding failure, but if there is anything this work has taught me, failure and iteration is what leads to “success” and ultimately change.  

Last but not least, I am grateful for the readers of the blog who are always curious to learn and understand ways to help make meaningful change in the student experience. Creating real positive change in the community involves the collective effort of all its members. I am grateful to be part of a change that aims to improve the student landscape and I’m committed to continue working towards change in the broader community.  

1 comment on “What’s Your Why: A Commitment for Change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *