Allyson Banville: Strive to get involved, connect and learn - Gilles G. Patry Student Engagement Fund 2017
Allyson Banville, a biopharmaceutical science (genomics) student in the Faculty of Science, has always believed in getting involved with clubs and associations relating to areas she’s passionate about. Prior to university, she was very involved in the Youth Council of Ontario Nature, founding the group in 2011 with a small group from across Ontario. She was also elected secretary of her high school’s Free the Children club.
While doing her bachelor’s at the University of Ottawa, she started volunteering with Bio-X, a science club dedicated to increasing awareness of career and education opportunities in science as well as encouraging involvement in health and science. Allyson managed all aspects of the club, including updating and organizing the website, brainstorming, contacting event speakers and developing events and initiatives.
Through Bio-X, she learned about a plethora of career opportunities for science grads, and has helped many other students do the same. “I love volunteering with Bio-X and being able to help students make decisions about their futures that will affect their lives in big ways,” she says. She also likes having the power to change students’ university experience, and maybe help students pursue a career they are truly passionate about.
Allyson feels that her work with Bio-X over the years has improved not only other students’ lives, but also her resumé: the network of connections she has made with professionals across various fields including science, health science and environmental studies has opened new opportunities for her and enriched her life. Thanks to her involvement, she has received many prestigious scholarships. Allyson has also branched out. In 2016, she formed a new uOttawa club called the Health Science Networking Association, and as a representative, organized many events.
Allyson highly recommends that new students get involved in a club or association as soon as possible and, indeed, to continue the habit after graduation, since volunteering has many benefits. It expands your professional network, which leads to greater opportunities and richer life experiences; it teaches invaluable life skills such as time management, leadership and organization; and it improves both your life and the people you are helping. Moreover, it makes you a stronger candidate for many scholarships.
That was the case for Allyson herself. For her amazing contribution to University of Ottawa clubs and associations, her strong academic performance and outstanding service to the community, Allyson Banville received an award from the Gilles G. Patry Student Engagement Fund in winter 2017.
Changing the world…can it start on campus?
Being involved in student clubs and associations has a many advantages for students—meeting new people, supporting a cause they care about, developing new skills or gaining a better understanding the workings of student politics. Here are some of the things students had to say about their experience with such groups on campus.
“Participating with my department’s student association made it possible for me to not only give back to the University community, and in particular to the French-speaking members of the University community, but also to promote the francophonie on campus.”
“I’ve learned a lot about how to foster positive and professional relationships, which has helped me grow personally too.”
“Participating has provided me with so many opportunities to apply what I’ve been learning in class. I’ve improved my professional skills because of it.”
“I made new friends and learned new ways to get the job done….I learned how important it is to be tactful and diplomatic when dealing with others.”
“Our association aims to help not only students in our program but also community members….We created partnerships with local organizations. As a group, we can help others directly or encourage students to get involved and do the same.”
“My role in our club has helped me develop on a professional level by allowing me to learn how to effectively handle a variety of different situations and take on responsibilities in a professional manner, skills that can be transferred to situations in day-to-day life.”
The Centre encourages students to get involved in their association or in different clubs and has now made it possible for clubs and associations to post their volunteer positions in the Community Engagement Navigator. The Centre also lets registered clubs and associations know about volunteer opportunities that may be of interest to their members and sends them monthly communications.
uOttawa club inspires the next generation of women to pursue their goals in STEM
Picture three people: a doctor, an engineer and a physicist. How many do you see as women? That’s where the uOttawa club WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) comes in. The club is spearheaded by two of uOttawa’s very own women in science and engineering, Alysha Champsi and Rukyya Badreldin. It aims to engage women currently in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as inspire a new generation of women to get involved.
Not only are club members on campus incredibly active, but they also give back to the community with their annual high school outreach program. Once a year, WISE members visit high schools around the Ottawa region to promote STEM among young women and speak about their experiences as women in the field. This year the outreach program was very successful and sparked interest in STEM, which is something that co-presidents Badreldin and Champsi are proud to continue. In a written exchange with the two, they said that “it has become increasingly important to encourage young girls to go into engineering programs, since there are so few of us! In the future we hope to host mentorship programs where high school students can buddy up with a university student for the day and really get the full university experience!”
In addition to inspiring the next generation of female scientists and engineers, the club focuses on giving current uOttawa STEM students confidence and encouragement. Badreldin and Champsi organized a trip to the 2017 WISE national conference in Toronto, where club members were introduced to other students, professors, researchers and esteemed female leaders from across Canada. This, the co-presidents say, provided them with “new perspectives about what it means to be a woman studying science or engineering.”
However, their crowning accomplishment for the year was the Speaker Series Night they organized in November. Various speakers in STEM spoke of their pathway to success and careers as women in STEM. It was a very successful night of learning and networking for everyone and the club is hoping to host another series in the spring.
Are you interested in speaking at the WISE spring speaker series? If so, you can reach co-presidents Badreldin and Champsi at wise@uOttawa.ca.