Bonjour! My name is Christopher Fernlund and I am in my final year at Trent University, where I am completing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I was re-elected as Vice President of University Affairs for the Trent Oshawa Student Association, soon to be adapted as the Trent Durham Student Association. As VPUA, I represent all Trent University students at the Trent Durham campus, a satellite campus (or more colloquially known as an “alternative campus”) located in Durham Region. I have been told I was elected to propel the young TOSA from infancy to full maturity and with the help of my team, create a standard for future years.
In this capacity, I also assume the role as a Steering Committee member for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Having been reelected, I was an SC member previously, so I decided to go a step further and place my bid for an executive role with OUSA. Fortunately (for myself and hopefully the rest of OUSA!), this bid was successful as I was elected Vice President of Finance.
The events leading to my decision to run for VP Finance are stories within themselves, but I will skip over the long tales and give you a smaller snapshot. Upon completing my tenure as Vice President of University Affairs and as Steering Committee member, I temporarily retired from student affairs. I decided to wash my hands and try something new. I became a Research Associate for Trent University, working directly for the head of Trent ‘Oshawa,’ connecting students with a socially driven entrepreneurial think-tank. This opportunity provided exposure to the realities of budgetary constraints and the difficulties in creating work-integrated learning opportunities for students. After this position expired, I decided to follow another path. I took time off university and moved to Cape Town, South Africa. It was there I realized I never truly retired from student government. What was supposed to be an unrealistically long holiday in South Africa ended up being a proactively engaging time to hone my skills working for a non-profit, providing pathways to students for intercity experiential learning opportunities (buzzword bingo!) The process of bridging the gaps between students, non-profits, and government was an exciting venture that added to my experience in student affairs.
Cumulating my experience with non-profits and student affairs provided exposure to the political and economic realities of accomplishing goals as an organization. However, any cynicism I may have had quickly dissipated as I realized that with passion, energy, and commitment, goals could be reached benefiting all parties. Some call this lobbying or persuasion, but I call it effectively doing what you think is the right thing to do. I wholeheartedly believe the team this year possesses such qualities and will utilize them to effectively reach the goals of OUSA.
The opportunities I was luckily given planted the seed for placing my bid as Vice President of Finance. Bringing this around full circle, this year will be an exciting year with hopefully many more opportunities to accomplish what we, students, believe to be the right thing to do. I want to continue my drive to make post-secondary education in Ontario the place where students can have an accessible, affordable, and high-quality learning experience (yay, more buzzwords!)
Feel free to reach out!