I definitely could not pick just one. I get the biggest warm and fuzzies just thinking about the feeling of being on campus, surrounded by amazing, passionate young people. U of G's campus is truly unparalleled for good vibes. The Bullring was such a welcoming and inclusive space; I played at the open mic there many times in my undergrad with my housemate at the time. The UC was always bustling with people on their way to class, to extracurriculars and to get food, but it almost always had something that caught your eye happening dead centre – whether it was an educational event, an inspirational speech, or freebies from a fellow student club. If I had to pick one aspect of my time there that was especially wonderful was my involvement in student-led extracurricular initiatives, such as Oxfam at Guelph, WiSE, CAARM, being a part of the Anti-Sexual Violence Subcommittee and many others.
In my experience, there was never a moment where an event or initiative that my peers and I wanted to happen, didn’t happen. That is to say, the U of G community as a whole is extremely supportive and as corny as it sounds, always encouraged us to dream big and go for it. This really reinforced the idea that there is nothing impossible or out of reach – sure, things might be more complicated or hard – but there are always ways to make magic happen. Another important thing that the U of G community instilled in me is the importance of centring community and recognizing everyone has different skill sets. We all work better together and can organize more meaningful initiatives when we maximize everyone’s strengths and work together.
One piece of advice I want to offer to current and future U of G students is something that I tell almost every group of young people I speak to or guest lecture to. Please get involved in your community, and/or support community-led initiatives! You gain immeasurable teachings you would not otherwise have ever had by engaging in dialogues with others of similar, and of different interests/ backgrounds/ experiences. Getting out there, joining clubs/ committees, going to events organized on and off-campus, and building and fostering meaningful relationships with community groups and leaders within the region is critical for your growth too. There are many forms of knowledge and ways of knowing, and it’s important to take what you can from the institutional academic side, but to also realize that we have a lot to learn from each other’s lived experiences as well.
I am most excited about celebrating the achievements and learning from the experiences of fellow alumni. Having gone to U of G is truly such a meaningful shared experience amongst us all, and to see how we have all grown from that point on is really wonderful to see.