Connecting leadership, advocacy and purpose: student experience with Ashley McDougall

Leadership, advocacy and purpose

We can all agree that connecting passion and purpose may not always be an easy task, especially when discussing academic life and career goals. But what if, as a student, you had the opportunity to experience a seamless blend of the two?

Meet Ashley McDougall, a Bachelor of Arts student and the president of the UFV Student Union Society (SUS). With a passion for advocacy and governance, Ashley’s journey exemplifies the deep impact that student leadership can have on campus and beyond.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ashley McDougall's portrait.I am a student in the Bachelor of Arts program with a major in Economics and a minor in Political Science. I have also completed a certificate in Advanced French Proficiency alongside my degree. Over the past 2 years, I have been involved in student leadership as the former Vice President External and current President of the Student Union Society (SUS). I have a passion for advocacy and governance; I am honoured to have the privilege to use this passion to help fellow students in my work at SUS.

  1. What motivated you to choose this field of study?

I chose to study Economics and Political Science because they are the subjects I am most passionate about and they fit in perfectly with my goals and career interests. I’m interested in working with economic policy in the future and I feel my studies in these fields have given me a vast background of knowledge that I will be able to draw on as I pursue a career in policy work.

  1. Congratulations on being invited to the UN Peace Summit in Bangkok, Thailand this year! This is such a great achievement! Can you tell us about this experience and what you shared and/or learned as a UFV ambassador?

The UN Peace Summit in Bangkok Thailand was an experience of a lifetime! I am so honoured to have been able to represent UFV at the summit. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from keynote speakers about peace-building strategies and hear first-hand accounts of resilience and strength from survivors of genocide. As well, I was able to form connections with other student leaders from around the world. I’m grateful to have contributed to and learned from such important dialogues on global peace.

Ashley McDougall in front of a blue panel that reads "Humanitarian Affairs Asia presents: 3rd Global Peace Summit 2024 - A world together." Ashley is smiling, standing and wearing a black suit.
Ashley McDougall at the 3rd Global Peace Summit 2024, in Bangkok, Thailand.
  1. You have also participated in other student organizations on campus. Can you share about your experience? What were the biggest challenges you faced, and what did you learn?

Outside of my studies, I have been very involved on campus with Clubs and Associations and SUS. I am the former Vice President External and current President of SUS. I am also the former President of the Political Science Student Association and current President of the newly-founded Economics Student Association. My experiences in these leadership positions, particularly with SUS, have allowed me to build community and engagement on campus and advocate for fellow students. In my roles at SUS, I was able to successfully advocate to UFV for the first Fall reading break, which began in Fall 2023. I was also able to contribute to hosting several events on campus, like Kickback, and initiated a new event at the Chilliwack campus, Backyard Bash! One of the biggest challenges I have faced is time management and mitigating burnout, which has taught me the importance of balance.

  1. How do you feel about completing your degree? If you could go back in time, is there anything you would have done differently?

I’m really excited to be nearing the completion of my degree! If I could go back in time, I would have gotten involved at UFV sooner.

  1. What are your career plans moving forward?

I’m really interested in using my knowledge gained in Economics and Political Science in governance and policy work, specifically relating to economic policy. My goal is to hold a political office one day in the hope of being able to create policy that makes a positive difference.

  1. What advice would you give to future students interested in your area of study?

Take risks and get involved! Gaining experience during your degree is one of the best ways to figure out what you want to do with your career and to build up your professional experience while still in school. Especially for students studying Economics or Political Science, running in SUS elections gives you practical experience with democratic processes, governance, policy and advocacy work.

Cultivate Connect – A link between practicum, research, and the Fraser Valley farm-to-market supply

When students first hear about practicums, some may think these opportunities will not help them pursue a career that uses their research skills. This project proves this wrong.

Back in May 2020, Joshua Vanderheide, founder of Field House Brewing, East Abby Hospitality Group, and UFV Graphic and Digital Design sessional instructor, approached the College of Arts, expressing a need for a survey project on the impact of COVID-19 on local food systems. With enthusiasm for the project from English Assistant Professor Dr. Michelle Superle, the project was created.  With Meagan Pitcher as the practicum student co-researcher, they formed the project.

Along with Dr. Superle and Meagan, the project further extended collaborative student opportunities with the School of Land Use and Environmental Change. Associate Professor Dr. Cherie Enns was instrumental in connecting two recent UFV graduates as research assistants (Gemma Bridgefoot and Sharon Alamwala). All the parts involved gained exceptional and extensive knowledge of multiple factors related to food systems.

This amazing experience connected College of Arts students and faculty with the Fraser Valley agricultural community/industries. As a result, the students collaborated with a variety of local stakeholders, gained extensive knowledge about the impact of research, and moved their learning beyond the classroom.

Click here to read the full report about the Cultivate Connect project.

2021 Arts Worx Internship Professionalism Awards – Recognizing and celebrating the outstanding work of College of Arts students during their internships.

From left to right: Maaria Zafar, Holly Janzen, Jaimee Fournier, Arsalan Sadiq and Harla Sidhu.
From left to right: Maaria Zafar, Holly Janzen, Jaimee Fournier, Arsalan Sadiq and Harla Sidhu.

Our success as an institution depends not only on our ability to deliver high-quality instruction for students but also on creating opportunities to connect their learning beyond the classroom and align it to their future post-university goals.

In recognition of promoting professionalism within our community and demonstrating integrity, openness, and dedication, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Arts Worx Internship Professionalism Awards:

  • Lorisa Williams (no photo) – History Major, Indigenous Studies Minor
  • Arsalan Sadiq – Media Arts
  • Holly Janzen- GDS major
  • Jaimee Fournier – English Major, History Minor
  • Harlajvanti Sidhu– Criminology Major, Communications Minor
  • Maaria Zafar – Criminology Major, Communications Minor

Congratulations to these amazing students. On behalf of the College of Arts and our community partners, we would like to thank you for all your hard work and dedication during your internship.  Keep rising and remember—the sky is (not) the limit!  You got this!

Voicing Social Justice through Visual Arts – A story about Faria Firoz: BFA grad student and the recipient of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal

Faria Firoz holding the award certificate and the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal
Faria Firoz holding the award certificate and the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal.

Faria Firoz is a BFA graduate student who has been living in Canada since she left her homeland of Bangladesh in 2016.

She has always been fascinated by art and studied art during her high school back in Bangladesh—but she wanted more. Faria combined her high-level skill set and passion for arts and social justice to raise awareness about important ongoing social, cultural, and political issues.

One of her most recent works was generated within the Black Lives Matter creative social justice art project, where according to Shelley Stefan, Visual Arts Associate Professor and Art Mentor for this project:

Faria’s participation in the Black Lives Matter creative social justice art project displays her commitment to the essential collaboration and unifying efforts needed to bring people together through creativity to support inclusion, diversity, reparation, poetic justice, and civic engagement. Her role in this project, alongside other Black, Indigenous, Mixed Race, and People of Colour, is a prime example of the type of bravery and leadership artists can embody toward the advancement of human rights in our communities.”

In recognition of her extraordinary work, Faria was the recipient of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal: an award granted for standout students whose work promotes and integrates diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation. As stated by Faria: “It is a very unexpected honour. To be recognized and appreciated at such a high level is something I never would have imagined. I am so grateful.”

Read Faria’s full story at UFV Today.

Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders

Abdul Aziz Ghafoor, Bachelor of Science student at UFV

UFV students Abdul Aziz Ghafoor, Katelyn Van Hove and Tara-Lynn Kozma-Perrin have been chosen to attend the Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders conference to be held on February 5-7, 2020. The three winners will represent both UFV and Canada in Bangkok, Thailand.

“I’m very excited to attend the conference and meet all the other young leaders from around the world to help share some of the skills I’ve learned and to learn a bunch of skills as well, which will be very useful for me and the community here,” said Ghafoor, BSc student.

Read morePeace Summit of Emerging Leaders

Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a Weekend

Raymond Kobes, BA, French Major & Business Minor, 2018 

“I went to Victoria for University Model Parliament” says Raymond Kobes. It was there in January 2018, that the UFV French alumnus and member of Universities Model Parliament was selected to be the Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a weekend.

“Basically when you go to Model Parliament, it’s as if Ottawa was postponed and you were actually in Ottawa as the official representatives and members of parliament” says Kobes. Over the course of the weekend, Kobes was responsible for three portfolios: Multiculturalism, Official Languages and the French culture.

In this role, Kobes was expected to field questions by the opposition regarding certain bills that related to his area. “It was really neat because there were so many different opinions and different world views… but when it came down to it, we were all there for a common goal of learning how to get involved in the political world and how we can best make a better Canada” he says.

To be an effective member of parliament, Kobes recommends becoming a good orator because a large part of the job will include giving speeches and asking or responding to questions from either side of the House of Commons. He also recommends becoming bilingual. “The best part about [being a Minister] was that I got to use my French in the House… and got to share with other people why those things are important” says Kobes.

Growing up in Abbotsford, Kobes was drawn to politics at an early age and dreamed of one day becoming a member of parliament. “I look forward to my future in politics, hopefully, as a member of parliament in the future and a lot of that has to do with my education here at the University of the Fraser Valley” says Kobes.

Kobes graduated this June 2018 from UFV. He is set to teach French for one year at Credo Christian High School in Langley starting September 2018, and then plans to become heavily involved in the Canadian federal election in 2019.

To watch Raymond’s short video interview, click on the link:

To watch Raymond’s full video interview, click on the link: