Profiles in Leadership: Kate Bowers June 18, 2012Posted by Crystal in Leadership.
Kate Bowers, Leadership Program (St. George)
Kate has been involved with student life at U of T since her undergraduate days, so it’s no surprise seeing her as the Student Life Coordinator of the Leadership Program at St. George Campus. Her role in Student Life means that she helps create programming and workshops that help create student leaders. Because of her experience during her time as a student, she brings valuable insight both from the staff point of view and the student point of view. When it comes to helping students become successful leaders, there is no one better for the job.
What is your definition of leadership?
I like to succinctly define leadership as ‘doing what needs to be done’. I like this definition because it’s simple and catchy, applies across a variety of situations and scales, but is actually quite complex. To me leadership is about knowing yourself – what you’re capable of and what you’re interested in or passionate about. It’s also knowing your community or your context – what are the issues and challenges that exist, and what collaborative solutions might there be. And lastly, its about actually getting up and doing something!
What made you choose to work in student life?
To work in a field where I spend my time encouraging young people to get involved, to think of themselves as leaders, and to connect to their communities is an amazing job!
Were you not working in a campus, where could you see yourself?
One of the best parts of my job is facilitating workshops so I think wherever I might be working, facilitating learning amongst others would probably be a big part of it.
What are your favourite campus events?
My favourite campus events are the ones that sort of catch you off guard on a university campus. Things like poetry workshops, button making events, farmer’s markets – I love the events that bring people together across academic lines, and engage people in activities that are complementary to school, but not always focused on it.
How do you maintain balance of your work, campus events and other responsibilities, especially at busy times of the year?
During the busiest times, I pay extra attention – to how busy I am, to how I feel mentally and physically, and to how I’m interacting with others. The signs of stress and being out of balance are always there if you look for them so it’s important to learn what yours are, and understand that taking care of yourself is just another opportunity to practice self-leadership.
Any tips for students who might be struggling with the balance between their studies and their involvement on campus?
As a student, I always tried to build down time into my schedule. I leave evenings open, sometimes cancel or re-schedule plans so that I can follow my own energy and not constantly be caught up in ‘busyness’. Also, learn what works for you in terms of being the most productive. Try not to be too hard on yourself! Remember the things you have accomplished, and treat yourself to something nice once in a while.
What accomplishments are you most proud of, either as a student or as a student life professional?
The thing I’m most proud of from my involvement as a student was being the co-president of the Engineers Without Borders chapter at U of T (especially since I wasn’t an engineering student!). I stepped up to the role without much sense of what it would actually require, but felt confident that I could figure it out along the way. I was blessed with an amazing team of committed and passionate executives and somehow we pulled it all off. Being involved to that degree was a phenomenal experience both in terms of my own development as a leader, but also in terms of the unique experiences it gave me and the connections I have with the people from that year.
Any advice for students who feel they want to get involved, but don’t know where to start?
There are plenty of amazing things happening on campus all of the time. Find something cool and make a friend go with you.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“We make the world significant by the courage of our questions, and the depth of our answers.” – Carl Sagan
Interview by Redon Hoxhaj, 2011-2012 Communications Assistant, Office of Student Life