How becoming a student leader improved my UBC experience.

Andie Walterhouse (second from left) and members from her Squad, September 2015.

Coming to UBC, I knew I wanted to get involved eventually. I aspired to develop my elementary leadership skills from my high school experience.  I took my first couple of years at university to focus on my studies, telling myself I should take some time to get into the groove of life as a UBC student. After nearly two years, I started to get restless. I realized I had become passive and wasn’t accomplishing my goals in terms of leadership. Soon after, an announcement in my LFS 250 class exclaimed that they were accepting applications to become an Orientations Leader. I thought back to my Imagine Day and realized that there was room for improvement. I did not have the best first day at university and I wanted to do what I could to ensure that some of the new incoming students had a more positive experience. I applied that night and ended up getting the position.

Thrilled to finally have a leadership position on campus, I threw myself into the role. I vowed to absorb as much as I could during training to prepare myself for the Big Day. I was surprised at how much I learned. I furthered my skills in being able to see things from many perspectives. Every single student coming into UBC would be coming in with a different background and life experiences. Challenging yourself to be open minded and accepting of every person you meet, regardless of how different you may seem, is a valuable skill that I have carried forward with me into my everyday life. The training also forced me to remember back to how I felt at another time. I remembered being terrified that I wouldn’t fit in or I’d get lost. This allowed me to better relate to my group of students and I hope made me more approachable in my position.

Aside from my leadership skills I’ve acquired being a student leader, my social life on campus has completely changed. I have met so many amazing people that are passionate about so many different things. Students that are not afraid to be outgoing and silly, but are able to become supportive and available at any need. The energy from surrounding yourself with people who have these common characteristics is invigorating. Not only have I made connections within my peer network, but I have also built relationships with profs, Student Life co-ordinators, and many other people with different roles in our faculty. These relationships have proven to be invaluable.

My mindset has also changed. Through becoming a student leader, I feel more engaged. I am now a part of making my faculty better. Contributing to other student’s well-being is uplifting. To feel as if you are a key contact or support for someone is empowering. My engagement in one aspect of student life has caused me to become a part of so many other initiatives and projects on campus. I have never been happier or more proud to be a UBC student.

– Andie Walterhouse, 3rd year Applied Animal Biology

Apply to be an Orientations Leader today. Applications close on January 31st.


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