Leaders guide, they motivate, they inspire. At the University of the Fraser Valley, leaders can be found among faculty, staff, and alumni. Now, thanks to the efforts of the UFV Student Life department and with funding from Coast Capital Savings, more leaders will come from our largest population — students.
Student Life had already established a vibrant student leadership program designed to teach and nurture organizational and developmental skills. Any student interested in campus life could participate. Much of the programming involved learning to organize student clubs, associations, and intramurals —activities vital to a substantive campus experience outside of the classroom.
But there was more that could be done. Student Life needed more funds in order to expand the scope and reach of the leadership program and give students more opportunities.
Enter Coast Capital Savings. With a focus on supporting youth leadership initiatives, providing funds to the Student Life Leadership Institute was a logical investment. Lydia Law, director of community leadership for Coast Capital, noted the unique opportunity for her institution.
“Coast Capital’s community leadership program puts an emphasis on promoting and supporting youth leadership within the communities where we live and work. This program is a good example of the type of initiatives we look for when investing in the community.”
The measure of Coast Capital’s benefit can be found in the increased opportunities for UFV students. One such example took place recently when a group of UFV students attended the Canadian International Model United Nations forum.
CANIMUN recently held its 2010 conference in Vancouver, attracting participants from around the world. The Student Life Leadership Initiative received a last-minute opportunity to send UFV delegates. With the assistance of Coast Capital funds and having only days to prepare, students Nicole Williscroft, Kate Nickelchok, and Rahul Talwar not only represented their respective nations and UFV, but Kate also won an award for best speaker as she eloquently debated the concerns and positions of her adopted nation (India).
“Having participated in leadership initiatives made a huge difference for us at Canimun,” recalls Nicole. “The skills I learned at UFV made it easier to network with delegates, study the various positions of my adopted country (Cameroon), and then speak to the group during the sessions. A good deal of my confidence came from my experiences here.”
Coast Capital can also take pride in sending three more UFV students to a conference this spring in Atlanta, Georgia. The National Conference on Student Leadership hosted 1,500 students from around the continent, offering workshops, presentations, and networking sessions — all designed to give leaders the skills and tools necessary to enrich campus life. Sidrah Ahmad, Melissa Kendzierski, and Mei Lau had many stories to share and useful ideas to implement upon their return.
When asked to describe the difference in the Student Life Leadership Initiative now as a result of Coast Capital’s investment, Jill Harrison’s response is as short as it is emphatic — “MORE.”
“The funds from Coast Capital have transformed this program,” she says. “We have the money to do more, offer more opportunities to students, and as such attract more students to Student Life and the possibilities of their own leadership potential.
“We had a program in place before the Coast Capital donation. What I believe sold them on the idea of giving to UFV was the potential of the program if we had more funds. It is that potential that we are realizing now. We can send students to more conferences and events. They can hone their skills, network with other students from around the country and world, and bring those experiences and added knowledge back to UFV. Plus, they build confidence that spreads to those around them. That’s the mark of a true leader – inspiring others. And they expand the UFV name and awareness of our university to places we would not have considered before.”
With one more year of funding from Coast Capital, the focus now is on creating a measure of sustainability for the current program, and finding additional money to do more still. Coast Capital can be proud of the return on its investment at UFV, and UFV in turn can be proud of the programming that will launch more leaders into the university community and beyond.