I very well remember my first experience on this campus. It was Welcome Day and the first time I had ever boarded the 110N to UTM. I got off the bus and had no clue where to go. I assumed everyone on the bus was a first-year student like me, so I just followed the crowd, pretending to know where I was going. I showed my T-card, entered the RAWC, and was one of the few thousands of students who were asked to be seated. The day started off with a few speeches and then came the time when everyone was introduced to the president of the students’ union: Joey Santiago (2009). I was very impressed by his speech and wanted to get involved with UTMSU.
My first few weeks on campus were rough. I had absolutely no friends. Studies were tough (specially when you are taking an economics course with Prof. Bailey!). I had long breaks between classes, ranging from two to six hours, which I usually spent in Spigel Hall chatting with my friends on Skype from back home. I always wanted to work on campus since it seemed to be fun, and I thought I could make friends this way, too. I then applied to be a poll clerk for UTMSU and I was given the opportunity to work as one. It was during this time that I became more aware of the work of UTMSU. I was also introduced to the WUSC Local Committee by Mr. Henry Sali, who was VP external for UTM (2009/10).
Then came the 2010/11 academic year, when Ms. Vickita Bhatt was elected as president of UTMSU. My involvement with the students’ union began to increase. I got more and more involved with WUSC as a Student Refugee Program Coordinator and was also an associate to the VP part-time affairs (Ms. Marium Chowdhury). I also applied to be a U-Pass distribution clerk for the Fall 2010 distribution and was successful.
Gilbert Cassar was elected to serve as president of UTMSU in 2011. I applied to be the U-Pass coordinator and successfully got the job. I loved my job as a U-Pass coordinator, but wanted to work more closely with UTMSU. When the first round of associate hirings was taking place during the fall of 2011, I applied to be an associate to the VP internal and services, Ms. Neghan Alim, and got the position. I worked very closely with Neghan and developed a passion for the portfolio. I decided to run for the position of VP internal and services during the spring 2012 elections as part of Team Engage and was successfully elected. During the 2013 spring elections, I had the privilege of running for the position of president of UTMSU and running with my team, called “Team Connect”.
I take great pride in sharing this story today with everyone. I started off as a student knowing absolutely no one on this campus and today I am blessed with knowing so many of them and working with a very passionate and a supportive executive team. I have dedicated more than four years to the students’ union, serving in various capacities. Never did I think when coming into UTM that one day I would be the president of UTMSU and represent all undergraduate students on this campus.
Just like at this campus, the opportunities that we all have in life are endless. You should be willing to work hard to achieve your goals. Choose the right friends who will support you. Take risks. Study when you are supposed to and don’t leave things for the last moment. Always lend a helping hand to those in need. Be conscious of your actions and make sure you leave a lasting positive impact in someone’s life. I will certainly miss those daily interactions with students, club executives, the UTMSU office, my executive team, board members, associates, coordinators, and all those with whom I work very closely, including Mr. Walied Khogali, who has always been very helpful and a great resource.
As my journey with UTMSU comes to an end, I would like to thank all the students currently studying on this campus and those who have graduated for giving me the opportunity to serve them over the past two years as their elected representative. No one is perfect, and I’m certainly not even near. We all make mistakes and learn from them. Your students’ union needs students like you to get involved and make a lasting difference. The opportunities with UTMSU are endless. I’m sure one of you reading this article right now will hopefully want to get more involved with UTMSU. Come out and volunteer. Join clubs and academic societies. Apply to be a frosh leader. Make a change and get involved with your students’ union to make a lasting change.
As the academic year comes to an end, I would like to wish everyone all the very best in their upcoming exams. I would also like to wish much success to all those graduating in June this year.