As I sit here writing this, simultaneously listening to Spotify’s “Summer of 2017” playlist, and an iced coffee to my left, I am filled with a mix of sentiments I find hard to explain. This President’s update was supposed to highlight OUSA’s achievements for the month of April, however, it has taken until now for me to write it. That’s because while we saw a month overcome with successes, it unfortunately is also my last time to write to you all. This is my last blog as OUSA President and I’m struggling to find the words, phrases, and anecdotes, which contain the ability to both reflect and highlight our year.
But yes, OUSA has had a great last month. We saw the provincial budget released which outlined both instrumental changes to experiential learning within the province, and added even more transformations to OSAP. This further ensures that every student who is willing and qualified will be able to access and excel in post-secondary and beyond. We also released our third edition of Habitats, our annual case study report from students about pertinent issues in our respective municipalities. For more about our recent successes in the realm of advocacy, feel free to check out our press releases here.
OUSA is also experiencing a time of transition. As this steering committee says goodbye in the coming weeks, we are saying hello to the OUSA leaders for 2017-18. I will let them all introduce themselves over the summer, but the organization is in good hands. I also have the pleasure of welcoming three new staff into the home office family. Our newest Executive Director Sophie Helpard, Research and Policy Analyst Colin Aitchison, and Research Intern Danny Chang all start this week. I say with the utmost confidence that these three individuals define what it means to be a leader and will work tirelessly for the betterment of both OUSA as an organization and all undergraduate post-secondary students in Ontario.
While these next months of transition may be difficult. I believe it is what makes OUSA unique and prosperous in the sector. We never allow ourselves to be stagnant nor cease to be innovative. What makes us great is our ability to connect with young people and advocate for whatever they believe in. Our continual transitions both in Steering Committee and staff, showcase OUSA’s ability to remain at the forefront of representing youth in Ontario and we will continue to seek inventive ways to ensure the best for all students.
Thinking of what I wanted to put for my final President’s Update, I reflected upon my blog from September, centering around welcoming new students to their respective campuses. But as I look at those words now, I find them eloquently pertinent to people like myself – those who are leaving their university lives and looking for what is next. It went like this, “University is an experience like no other. It allows for self-discovery, scholarship, the attainment of society, and so much more. Students will meet lifelong friends and partners, embark on opportunities to expand learning beyond the classroom and get involved in ways never imagined.”
While saying goodbye may never be an easy task, change excites me and I am ecstatic about what the future will bring. It gives me solace to know that OUSA will be led by the strongest and most passionate group of individuals and that the 2016-17 team is leaving it in a good place. While we may have not accomplished everything we originally set out for, we are gratified with our abilities to consistently be trailblazers in defining what it means to be an advocate. Long-term, difficult, and exhausting, advocacy is by no means glamorous, but it allows for the opportunity to make momentous and permanent change which impact thousands.
As I say goodbye, I once again leave you with a quote. While I may have used this before, it still perfectly portrays what it means to be a university student. "It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats." - The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan
University gives memories which last a lifetime, but you still have a lifetime of memories to create. Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the support. And thanks for the friendship.