Profiles in Leadership: Tom Gleason June 25, 2012Posted by Crystal in Leadership.
Tom Gleason, LGBTOUT (St. George)
When Tom first arrived at U of T, he was surprised to see there wasn’t a collegiate group similar to LGBTOUT. The Policital Science and Sexual Diversity Studies student decided to create one for his college, and thus WINC (Woodsworth Inclusive) was born. Tom hasn’t limited himself though – he has gotten involved with other groups on campus as well. On top of being President of WINC, he is also Special Events Coordinator for LGBTOUT and LGBT Issues Director of the U of T Liberals. For Tom, it’s all about helping others get involved in what they’re passionate about.
What is your definition of leadership?
It’s about empowering and encouraging people to get involved in what they are passionate about.
How did you get involved at U of T? Why?
Organizations for the LGBTQ community and their allies like LGBTOUT and WINC have always been passions of mine. I tried to start one in my high school, but it became clear quickly that the school wasn’t ready at that time. I came to U of T wanting to get involved and noticed that Woodsworth is larger than Trinity and Victoria, yet it did not have a group for its queer students. After starting WINC, my involvement with LGBTOUT followed naturally.
What are your favourite campus events?
I’m going to be biased and say that I’ve really enjoyed WINC’s events. There have only been a couple, and they are small, intimate and lots of fun. I also really enjoy LGBTOUT’s Meet & Greets. They are a great place to meet new people and make connections in the community.
How do you maintain the balance of your club, school and other responsibilities, especially at busy times of the year?
School work always comes first. That being said, I always make sure that my commitments to both organizations are fulfilled to the best of my ability.
What do you feel you’ve gained from taking a leadership role in your group?
I’ve really learned a lot about U of T from being involved. You meet lots of different people, most of whom are very helpful and encouraging. There are many amazing examples of leaders here on campus and knowing them has been an amazing gain in my opinion. I have also gained confidence from knowing I have made a unique place for myself at a school that has 40,000 undergraduate students.
What have you learned from being involved with student life?
Getting involved is extremely rewarding. People are always willing to offer up insights and opinions, whether it be on what classes to take or what sort of programming gets the best response. You gain insight into the university and your studies and skills that will be very helpful in the future.
When you graduate, what do you think you will miss the most about university life?
Campus life. It’s like a small city and it’s easy to become familiar with. You almost always come across someone you know. Also, from a programming perspective, there are 6,000 students in residence on campus that are ready to come out to events. You will never have that a base like that again.
What are your future plans?
I still have another 3 and a half years of undergrad and I’m not too sure about what comes after that. I know that while I’m here I want to continue my level of involvement with both LGBTOUT and WINC and maybe branch out into a few other groups as well.
Any advice for students who feel they want to get involved, but don’t know where to start?
Your college is always a great place to start. The dons and student association are great resources for getting involved, so use them. Go out to any event that sparks your interest. There are dozens of events every week, there is going to be one that is right for you.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost
Interview by Redon Hoxhaj, 2011-2012 Communications Assistant, Office of Student Life