My name is Ryan Deshpande, and I am thrilled to be a member of this year’s OUSA Steering Committee, representing McMaster students. At Mac, I serve as the Vice President (Education) and Corporate Officer of the McMaster Students Union (MSU).
I am currently finishing my degree in Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization at McMaster, one of its newest programs. A combination of biochemistry and commerce, this program exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of academic life at McMaster University. Through a research, skills, and inquiry-based academic environment, I learned to love learning. I see a long future of education ahead of me, and I’m thrilled about it.
While my academics have taught me immeasurable things, I do believe my real learning came from outside the classroom. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have been involved with the MSU’s Diversity Services, serving as the Director last year. The MSU is unique in that it has a large amount of services that it provides to its members, and Diversity Services is one of those. Through this, my foundations of advocacy were born. In working with students, university staff and faculty, and community activists, we worked towards anti-racism in the university every day. I also got to create spaces where students of diverse and often marginalized backgrounds could find community. This taught me a two-fold, collaborative approach to advocacy: on one hand, it is important that we work towards policy and legislation that will improve student life, but on the other hand, we as students are often best positioned to support one another.
This year, I have many priorities, both at McMaster and across the province. One of those is creating a culture where sexual violence is both prevented and not tolerated. It’s fitting that during the first OUSA General Assembly I attended, I debated and approved the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response policy paper. Some of my other priorities are improving mental health system designs and supporting students’ career growth are some of those priorities. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on these through OUSA, where I know meaningful change can be achieved. With a provincial election around the corner, there are so many new possibilities. What I’m most excited for is the student engagement with it. Provincial elections implicate the post-secondary sector in so many ways and getting students involved with that is one of my goals.
On a lighter note, I’m an avid Beyoncé fan, having listened to her since I was 8 years old. I’m also a lover of bubble tea and sushi – though I eat just about everything. I’m lucky to live in Hamilton where there is such a diverse authentic restaurant scene – reflective of its diverse population. I’m also a nerd for global affairs and a compulsive watcher and reader of Game of Thrones.
I know this year is going to fly by so I hope to make the most of it in whatever way I can. Being a part of OUSA is so special and as a collective, I know we can move mountains.