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Meet our emerging leaders

March 8, 2016 — 

Sixty-six outstanding undergraduate and graduate student leaders from all corners of our campuses are being recognized at the annual Emerging Leaders Dinner on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

The Emerging Leader Award (ELA) recognizes students who are committed to furthering the university’s educational mission by contributing to the social, cultural or economic well-being of communities on and off campus, while encouraging cross-cultural understanding and demonstrating sustained leadership and initiative.

UM Today wanted to meet some of them. So, we did.

 

Leader: Nancy Barajas, Asper School

Nancy Barajas at the 2016 WUSC (World University Service of Canada) International Forum for women and youth empowerment in Ottawa.

Nancy Barajas at the 2016 WUSC (World University Service of Canada) International Forum for women and youth empowerment in Ottawa.

Who originally inspired you to become a leader?

My grandpa Lorenzo is the first person that comes to my mind when I think “leader”. Even if I never met him, he has been a very influential person in my life. From very humble beginnings, he worked extremely hard to ensure my dad could have access to better opportunities and a career.

As a leader, he worked to empower and develop opportunities for my dad. However, his actions have also had a direct positive effect for me as well and provided me with valuable opportunities. It is because of his and my father’s efforts that I am able to be a student at the U of M today. I aspire to one day become an influential leader as my grandpa and my father are to me, and to be able to create opportunities and value for generations to come.

What inspires you to continue?

The knowledge that my actions can have a direct positive effect in the community. Big and little things, it all counts if they are meant to improve our community.

Do you have a motto or philosophy you live by, if so, what is it?

If you have two roads to get to the same point, chose the one that helps the most people on the way.

Favourite course?

Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility (LEAD 3030)

Favourite campus location?

Dafoe Library

 

Leader: Shayne Reitmeier, College of Medicine

Shayne Reitmeier

Shayne Reitmeier

Who originally inspired you to become a leader?

There is no way I could identify one person as my sole inspiration to take on leadership roles. Growing up I was very fortunate to have many wonderful teachers who served as inspiration. However, there was one in particular who motivated her students to be the best person they could be and, to her, I still turn to for advice. Beyond primary and secondary school, my time at United Way has put me in contact with staff and other members that I have admired for their passion. They have continually been there to support me. Finally, throughout my post-secondary education, and especially in my time in medicine, I have been privileged to encounter many individuals who I deeply admire for their advocacy. However, in the past two years there was one individual who I sat down with and shared both my frustrations and desire for change for the LGBTTQI* community. He was the one who told me, “Shayne, just run with it,” which is exactly what I did, and for that, I will forever be thankful.

What inspires you to continue?

In formal quotes you will read that it is my “unwavering desire to promote social justice,” that inspires me to continue. This is absolutely true and purposefully written. However, when you get down to the root of my inspiration, it’s the same reason that so many of my colleagues and I went into medicine: to help others. Medical school has offered me a position of great privilege, where I have not only had the time to become secure in my own skin, but the support to step out of my comfort zone.  With my first leadership steps, I received positive feedback from those it impacted the most. It is these people I reach out to who keep pulling me forward, and perhaps, unknowingly, they are the ones who continue to serve as my inspiration.

Do you have a motto or philosophy you live by, if so, what is it?

It’s okay to be who you are.

Favourite course?

Despite my studies being heavily focused on the sciences, one of my favorite courses was Behavior Modification Principles. I took it a number of years ago and, to this day, I think back to it, not only for dealing with my own life but also during my interactions with patients.

Favourite campus location?

I enjoy a secluded spot that has been declared “the nest,” where a good friend of mine and I sit to unwind, connect, and reflect.

 

Leader: Gagan Sidhu, Faculty of Graduate Studies

Gagan Sidhu

Gagan Sidhu

Who originally inspired you to become a leader?

It’s a little difficult to pinpoint any one particular person who I’ve drawn inspiration from. There is a TED talk I watched early only in my graduate school career, when I was preparing my proposal, by the biologist E.O. Wilson that really pushed me to become more involved and to learn as much as I could from environments outside the lab and classroom. Also, I was kind of taken aback by the enthusiasm of the previous UMGSA president Laura Rempel, but it also inspired me to become more involved with the UMGSA.

What inspires you to continue?

I’ve have truly enjoyed all the time I’ve spent working on various projects as a member of the UMGSA and my own departmental GSA. It’s also very refreshing to take short breaks from my research to focus on other kinds of small projects and tasks, and it allows me to return to my research with renewed energy. I like being busy and seeing the small changes that my actions lead to, I think that’s what inspires me to continue.

Do you have a motto or philosophy you live by, if so, what is it?

My motto is something along the lines of, “Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” which is easier said then done. It’s so easy to lose sight of your goal when you obsess over little things, whether in the classroom/lab or in your extra-curricular life but sometimes it’s unavoidable. In moments like those, I’ll ask myself, “How will this change things in the long run?” or, “How does this fit into the vision I have?”

Favourite campus location?

I really like the Icelandic Reading Room. It’s my escape on days when I have trouble focusing. It’s a pretty peaceful place to study.

 

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