This is the fourth 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 and affiliates 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.
This week we present two inspiring individuals who have engaged in unique roles within the university, being Massey College and the Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Group.
Massey College is a graduate students’ residential community affiliated with, but independent from, the University of Toronto. The College offers much more than a residence; it provides a unique, congenial and intellectual environment for graduate students of distinguished ability in all disciplines to share in a rich and stimulating community.
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Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Group (ASURG)
The purpose of ASURG is to serve as a mean of communication between undergraduate students and the various departments of the Faculty of Arts and Science to enable the students to attain research opportunities. This group will help to establish a more cooperative relationship between the undergraduate students and the Faculty of Arts and Science departments and to make research opportunities more accessible to students.
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The individuals highlighted are recipients of the 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards.
The Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards: 2016 Recipients
Read below to discover the unique experiences that both Diva and Jennifer had in their leadership roles!
Q: What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership for me means three things: a compelling vision, high standards, and humility. A compelling vision is your best friend and guides you through the tough times in life. Today might be tough, but if you have a compelling vision for the future then it will keep you moving no matter what. Leadership is always about getting out of your comfort zone and looking out for opportunities to give, share and contribute to your community. A leader is not just some one who has followers, every one of us is a leader, you are a leader if you live your life on your own terms; if you try to fit in you will lose the immense potential you have inside you right now. Always look for what you can give to others in every possible way; this will lead you to so many opportunities that you were not aware of before. Second “Raise the bar”, and set high standards! Settle for no less than you can be, want or give to others! No matter what your situation is right now, by raising your standards you commit to a never-ending improvement that is growing a little bit everyday in different aspect of your life, which will lead you to realize your ideal self. Third, having humility is very crucial for a leader not because it means you do not look down on others. It introduces you to a wide-open horizon of new opportunities, lets you see everything clearly, and gives you a direction in life. ~Diva
In many senses today a “leader” is positioned as the first among many. The prime minister (it is even in the title), the president, a director, principal, dean etc… are all the first among many but these positions encompass far more than the primacy of the role. My sense of leadership – taught and inculcated in me by my parents from an early age – is that a great leader is an equal among many. No task or role should be below you as a leader. You should be willing to serve in every role and capacity alongside every member of your group/committee/constituency. This not only gives you a greater sense of the foundation, structure and function of the group you lead but, more importantly, develops relationships. That to me is the mark of a great leader – someone who isn’t shy to roll up their sleeves, get dirty and in the thick of things alongside every member of the group they lead. ~Jennifer
Q: What would you say is the highlight of your leadership role?
When I was in my second year, I was looking for research opportunities. Being new to Canada, which has a different educational system, I had a hard time finding such opportunities. Peeking into different university research offices was not fruitful, and then I realized that we need a research group run by students, where peers help peers. With the help of some friends we founded “Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Group” which helps student find research opportunities around the campus. I have been the founder and president of the group since its inception. ~Diva
Massey College comprises of a body of scholars, academics and leaders within the University of Toronto and wider community. Founded by former Governor General, Vincent Massey in 1962, it was intended to bring together a body of graduate students limited in number but of high promise in scholarship into the Fellowship of the College. The Don of Hall is the elected voluntary head of college to the Junior Fellowship. The Don chairs the House Committee, serves as the Chief Electoral Officer for semi-annual elections, attends Corporation, Finance and Standing Committee meetings, advocates for the Junior Fellowship, liaises with the Master and administration, assists with the planning and facilitation of social events while simultaneously serving as a residence assistant to the 60 residents living in college and 90 off-campus. In addition the Don delivers grace at nightly gowned dinners and bi-weekly High Table events. ~Jennifer
Q: What has been your greatest leadership challenge ? How did you overcome this challenge?
The only big challenge with a leadership role is the limit of your imagination, and a lack of commitment to your ideas. At times, I faced these challenges. Leaders are creators; they create possibilities when none exist. All great ideas come from imagination and when put into action they became reality. People around you might call you a daydreamer, but your level of commitment to your ideas will prove that you are in fact, a world changer. Leadership roles and life in general have many difficulties, at times; you might feel that it is not working no matter what you do. That is exactly the point where you need to commit to your conviction, retool, and start anew. When challenges hit you, remember two things: never quit and commit to your ideals. ~Diva
The 2014-2015 academic year was an exciting and stimulating year to be the Don of Hall of Massey College. Elected in March 2014, I encountered a fast-paced, uphill learning curve in the role which also called on me to assist a newly-minted Master that entered into a 50+ year Oxbridge-founded tradition as a neophyte following the departure of Master John Fraser who had led Massey for over 18 years. To put it mildly, 2014-2015 marked a year of great transition at Massey College. Thankfully with a great zeal for the Fellowship and Vincent Massey’s mission and vision partnered with two previous years as a Junior Fellow with House Committee, Lionel Massey Fund (social committee) and other Massey extra-curricular involvement, I did not come to the role without experience or without the friendship and support of a whole host of people. In tandem with one another, the experience and, in particular, the relationships, assisted in making a smooth transition, upholding time-honoured traditions and embracing the onward journey of change for myself and for those I served. My time as Don reiterated for me that the ability for one to overcome any challenge is largely dependent upon two things: your gumption and the support of others. As a leader you can be faced with many challenges big and small in nature, but you should always take the same balanced approach towards each. That balanced approach calls for you to be self-aware – being cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses – to take initiative and to be resourceful. It also insists that you be humble enough to recognize when you cannot and should not do it alone. Knowing when to lean on others to assist you is paramount to good leadership but it is often the harder of the two to accept and effectuate. ~Jennifer