Leadership in Action: Series #3 – Charitable and Non-Profit Work

Leadership in Action: Series #3 – Charitable and Non-Profit Work

This is the third in a series of blogs that the Living Leadership Blog will be posting regarding leadership in action. These blogs are meant to highlight the many innovative and unique ways by which U of T students, staff and faculty have decided to engage within the community. Each experience presents a diverse array of skills and dynamics that all pertain to student engagement and leadership.

The students highlighted are recipients of the 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards.

This week we present two students who have engaged in charitable and non-profit work through Students Offering Support (SOS) and University of Toronto Global Brigades (UTGB).

SOS – Students Offering Support, University of Toronto Chapter

SOS is a national student-led charity made up of a network of student volunteers working through university chapters to coordinate and teach Exam-AID’s (group review sessions prior to midterms / finals for first and second year courses). All donations from students attending these sessions go towards funding educational development projects in Latin America. These projects are not only funded by SOS, but they are also planned and built by SOS volunteers through an annual outreach trip. This full-circle experience provides volunteers an experience to see the direct impact they can have on their community as well as in marginalized communities around the world.

For more information, click here.

UTGB – University of Toronto Global Brigades

UTGB is a non for profit international organization that seeks to empower volunteers and under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities and inspire all involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world. Students are given the opportunity to increase awareness of health and economic issues faced in Central America and Ghana. Projects center around implementing holistic programs which integrate health and economic programming in order to achieve the community’s development goals.

For more information, click here.


The Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards: 2016 Recipients

Ariba Alam: Education Director, University of Toronto Global Brigades

Samriti Chandi: Co-President, SOS University of Toronto Chapter

Read below to discover the unique experiences that both Ariba and Samriti had in their leadership roles!

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership in my perspective comes with knowledge of the group, understanding the logistics of how the group operates, and sharing the information with others. Leadership also comes by understanding different needs in any particular situation or challenge and working with others to design a tentative solution that can be modified through time. ~Ariba 

Leadership is the ability to mobilize people in to action, to work towards some common end. Sometimes, this involves putting away personal convictions in order to work towards the greater good. It’s about helping others to recognize their potentials and how they can contribute. ~ Samriti 

Q: What would you say is the highlight of your leadership role? 

My role is to carry out sessions prior to the year’s brigade for all prospective volunteers to educate them about Global Brigades as an organization, our role as a chapter, aid them to recognize stereotypes, and implement interactive activities to discuss ways to be accepting and open minded of different communities. ~Ariba

My highlight was receiving the national award for Most Improved Chapter of the Year. What this means is that of all the universities across Canada with an SOS chapter, we received the award for showing the greatest improvements over the span of one year in all respects (whether it be team dynamics/unity, better marketing, greater increase in revenue to name a few). This award was the culmination of all my hard work with the chapter over the past year, and although we have not yet reached the top, we are continually improving and working towards our goals. ~ Samriti 

Q: What has been your greatest leadership challenge ? How did you overcome this challenge? 

The greatest leadership challenge this chapter faced is appropriately educating the student and general population about the fundamentals of this group. This challenge was overcome by having frequent meetings with all the group members where ideas were exchanged of how to reach out to the population in a professional manner, and reiterating the principles of the group. Giving one the appropriate information in a professional manner and being parallel on how we each understand the importance of the holistic model is highly important for this new chapter to make a difference in the countries UTGB operates in. ~Ariba 

My greatest challenge was increasing presence on campus despite the sheer size of the campus and the numerous competitors. Unfortunately, there are numerous other exam prep companies on campus who are more established, and this has limited our potential on campus significantly. As president, I was able to leverage on the fact that we are a charity (unlike the other for-profit companies), and was able to use this as a promotional point for our club. I wanted students to realize that by coming out to our exam review sessions, they would not only be helping themselves, but their donation would be helping other kids on the other side of the world receive a better education. I made sure to emphasize this in all our marketing material and all over social media to gain greater recognition and trust among students on campus. As a club, we were able to develop a significant presence with the Rotman Commerce community in particular. ~ Samriti 


Are you in your final year of studies at U of T, and feel that you have contributed significantly to your community on campus? Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards.  

To find out more, click here. 

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