“What are you waiting for?” At the beginning of each year, Gabriel Pillay poses this question to students in the INSPIRE Leadership program. More than a question, it is a call to action. At the INSPIRE Leadership Celebration on April 28, students showed how they answered that call.
Throughout the year-long Leadership program, students are encouraged to “find their ‘why’”—or what motivates them to create change—and to develop a legacy project that builds on their passions and talents. They develop their mission and vision, set goals, and then take their project from idea to reality.
At the Leadership Celebration, students had the opportunity to share the culmination of a year’s work with an audience of peers, family, faculty and staff, and friends of Corpus Christi-St. Mark’s College. They talked about what motivated them, how they pivoted in the face of roadblocks, and how they plan to carry forward their projects in the future.
Here, we highlight a few of the projects from the 2022 INSPIRE Leadership class.
Part of the Food Hub program at Little Mountain Neighbourhood House (LMNH), the Yard Garden Harvest Project provides produce, grown with organic practices in neighbourhood yards, for community members experiencing food insecurity.
Emma is passionate about growing the project’s volunteer program and played a major role in formalizing a volunteer handbook for the organization. Her work to recruit and engage volunteers for the program paid off. This year, the Yard Garden Harvest Project team engaged with over 40 volunteers, ages 13-70+, who have contributed over 500 volunteer hours, and eight volunteers embraced leadership roles. These volunteers have harvested over 200 pounds of fresh veggies that have gone to many families who are food insecure within the community.
Alua and Saiya started a Corpus Christi College club called “Bossary Budget” to provide other young people with resources and reliable information to increase their financial literacy in a socially responsible way. As aspiring women in business, Alua and Saiya are driven by the following motto, taken from a Carrie Underwood quote: “Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just take from it.”
In addition to creating a website and connecting with other university students, Alua and Saiya have presented on their club and financial literacy at two different high schools in the community, noting that high school students were especially interested in learning about cryptocurrency.
EJAAD is a non-profit organization that partners with female artisans in Afghanistan to sell hand-stitched and hand-embroidered bags and bracelets. The funds raised support women’s monthly incomes as well as humanitarian projects, such as a workshop and learning centre in Kabul, where artisans collaborate and access literacy and computer lessons.
Reina volunteered with EJAAD while in high school in Japan and was eager to launch a Canadian chapter of the organization. After logistical challenges due to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Reina received her first shipment of goods in March and has since sold 29 bags and 14 bracelets, raising over $700 to support women in Afghanistan.
When they met at Corpus Christi College, Anthony and Sawyer connected first on football and later on faith. This shared interest in their Catholic identities led them to collaborate on their legacy project, “Sunday and Beyond”. The goal of Sunday and Beyond is to educate and inspire Catholics to live out their faith as a daily practice, and not just on Sundays.
Anthony and Sawyer are excited to host their first public event on Saturday, May 7, at Corpus Christi College. Their three guest speakers – Sean O’Brien, Miriam Melzi, and Felipe Grossling – will be speaking on finding faith in family, work, and relationships. For more information, visit Eventbrite.
Maria is interested in listening to others and uplifting the lives of those around her. She is grateful for opportunities to share her own story and, through her legacy project, she wanted to give others the platform to do the same.
This year, Maria began working as a student intern for the Centre for Christian Engagement (CCE) at St. Mark’s College, where she has been supporting Dr. John Martens in preparing to launch a podcast. Maria was inspired by this process to create her own podcast, “The Universal Connection.” Maria has already filmed several podcast episodes and looks forward to officially launching the podcast this summer.
When they began envisioning how they planned to leave a legacy in their communities, Megan and Mercedes each dreamed of projects that would empower their peers to share their talents with others. After discovering this common vision, they teamed up to create a Peer Mentoring Club at Corpus Christi and St. Mark’s College.
The purpose of the Peer Mentoring Club is to create more leadership opportunities for students at the Colleges, and to provide a comfortable community for students to connect with each other—which was especially important as students transitioned back to fully in-person learning after being disrupted by COVID-19. Megan and Mercedes look forward to growing the Peer Mentoring Club next year.
The INSPIRE Leadership program is a year-long certificate course open to all students. Students learn how to define their leadership style and put into practice important leadership skills.