What I gained from getting involved with leadership opportunities at university

Three students reflect on their experiences taking different leadership roles at a Canadian university 

December 2 2021
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Most universities will spoil you with choice when it comes to leadership opportunities. Whether you join an academic society, get involved with student politics or lead a sports team, there is a lot of invaluable experience to be gained outside the classroom.

Learning to work within a team, achieving a common goal, and exploring and discovering new interests will not only help your personal growth and confidence at university, but it will also help you stand out to employers when you graduate.

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Below, three students from the University of Manitoba reflect on how they took advantage of three different leadership opportunities at their institution, and the valuable skills they learned from them.

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Habiba Mohamed, international business and supply chain management student

I first started participating in leadership opportunities in high school, by applying for executive positions in clubs that piqued my interest, joining sports teams and getting involved in community service.

In my senior year, I orchestrated a fundraising event that started off as a project for my social justice class but ended up becoming much more. I created a GoFundMe page and raised enough money to feed about 150 families in Egypt.

Throughout my time at university so far, I’ve continued to take on leadership roles related to social justice.

I’ve been involved with the World University Service of Canada, where I volunteer as the financial director to help implement scholarship plans for participants of the Student Refugee Program.

Through this opportunity, I’ve had the chance to network with a variety of people, meet new students and develop relationships with local businesses in the community.

I’ve not only gained practical experience but have developed relevant skills that I will, without a doubt, carry on to my professional career.

Hayley Turner, life sciences student

It may seem like everyone knows exactly what they are interested in when they arrive at university, but I found the opposite to be true.

Getting involved in leadership opportunities both inside and outside the classroom at university gave me the chance to discover what I love and how I might build a career in my interests in the future.

During my studies so far, I’ve been fortunate enough to join the University of Manitoba’s track and field team, and coach gymnastics for the special olympics.  

Although taking on this role as a student has had its challenges, it’s also given me the chance to develop resilience, overcome obstacles and be a team player – or as I like to think of it, a quiet leader. In other words, a leader is not always the captain or the one running the show, but sometimes it is the one behind the scenes.

I have taken this lesson back into the classroom, which has been a major asset to my personal journey. In discovering my twin passions in sport and science, I now have my sights set on becoming a clinical psychologist specialising in sport.

The skills I gained as a student athlete and coach were pivotal in this decision, allowing me to create a future I am passionate about and become a leader in several areas.

Liat Schultz, kinesiology and recreation management student

Due to Covid-19, most of my university experience over the past year has taken place online – a situation I could never have imagined.

Thankfully I have found that, even in the most challenging circumstances, you can still contribute to your community and grow as an individual.

Throughout the past year, I have had the opportunity to virtually welcome new students from all over the world, assist high-school graduates as they begin their university experience and work alongside a team of inspiring individuals as members of the University of Manitoba’s motionball chapter.

I’ve also met several outstanding academics and had the opportunity to work with some of Winnipeg’s most distinguished physiotherapists.

All these experiences have helped me to become a better communicator, leader and learner.

Above all, I’ve learned a great deal about myself and how I adapt to different situations, giving me a better sense of my current role in my community and the role I would like to play as I grow older.

As well as this, I have a better understanding of the importance of self-care and of prioritising our own well-being before trying to help others – the most incredible leaders are those that understand that balance is a crucial component in accomplishing any goal.

With all the knowledge I have gained, I feel confident moving forward in my degree and am eager to see what professional experiences lie ahead.

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