My name is Stephanie Bellotto and I am the Vice President of University Affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union. I am very excited to be sitting on OUSA’s Steering Committee this year! Our Steering Committee is full of passionate individuals who are committed to making this a successful year by advocating for an enhanced student experience. Let’s also not forget OUSA’s amazing Home Office Staff who I am so excited to be working with!
My interest in government relations and advocacy stems from my undergraduate degree in Political Science. I garnered enthusiasm for learning about governmental processes as a whole and how public policy is developed. This interest led to me running for, and being elected to, the Students’ Union Board of Directors. In this role I was able to oversee decisions that were brought to the board that affected and enhanced the student experience.
In the winter of 2017, I had the opportunity to attend OUSA’s General Assembly. This experience gave me a greater appreciation for OUSA and the extensive advocacy possible at the provincial level surrounding post-secondary education.
Over the past year, I was a part of our Students’ Union University Affairs’ Outreach Committee where I was involved in OUSA’s #myWILis campaign, educating students on non-tuition ancillary fees, and promoting student elections. I also sit on the Waterloo Regional Youth Council where I provide a voice for youth in the community. Furthermore, I participated in Laurier’s Local Advocacy Week where I lobbied with local stakeholders on student issues. These issues included the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for Indigenous students, transit, and international student health care.
One of my favourite recent experiences was participating in a series of “Practical Politics” workshops organized by former Cabinet Minister John Milloy, which provided students with a tangible out-of-classroom learning experience. Also, during class trips to Queen’s Park, we had the opportunity to meet with politicians and learn about their experiences in politics and participate in the public policy process.
One of my main priorities for the year will be experiential or work-integrated learning, as I believe there is much more to higher education than just attending class. The provincial government has addressed the importance of experiential or work-integrated learning and its benefits of allowing students to gain tangible experience and valuable skills. We are always looking to enhance and increase these opportunities for students and enable more of their professional development.
OUSA has a long history of accomplishments in advocating for accessible, affordable, and high quality education for students in Ontario’s post-secondary institutions. Although advocacy is an ongoing process, I am happy and excited to be a part of this process and for what is to come this year!