It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mark, the friendly neighbourhood Brit currently taking the McGill campus by storm. In addition to his confessed love for squash, reading, and red pandas, Mark has a passion for helping others, and he has put this ardor to action within the McGill community. He dedicates his efforts as VP External of McGill Students’ Nightline, and as one of the main figureheads behind the newfound McGill Ambassador Program. This week I got the chance to catch up with this busy fourth year and hear all he has to say about these incredible initiatives.
Hannah Chubb for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): What is your year/major/minor?
Mark Anscombe (MA): U3, English Lit, Economics and Russian Lit.
HC McGill: Hometown?
MA: A tiny village in rural South-East England called Wetheringsett.
HC McGill: Can you tell us a bit about McGill Students’ Nightline and how it works?
MA: Nightline is a confidential, anonymous and non-judgmental listening service, run entirely by McGill students. We have an incredible team of volunteers who keep Nightline open every night of the semester from 6pm – 3am. Anyone can call Nightline and chat to our volunteers about pretty much anything (reach us at 514-398-6246).
HC McGill: What does your position entail as VP External of Nightline?
MA: Due to our strict confidentiality rules, there are only a few public members of Nightline. I am one of them. My role is to engage with SSMU and other McGill groups, attend events such as the Students in Mind conference, and generally make sure Nightline is visible on campus.
HC McGill: Why were you originally inclined to join Nightline?
MA: I am very interested in the issue of mental health, particularly awareness and education. Having safely negotiated my first year, I wanted to get involved in a club on campus that provided a mental health related service. I remembered hearing about Nightline from my floor fellow in first year, and decided to apply.
HC McGill: What do you think is the best part about the Nightline service?
MA: The best thing about Nightline is the anonymity and confidentiality. It is extremely valuable for someone who is need of support to have a listening ear that is empathetic, reassuring and not judgmental. Often reaching out is the first step to someone finding help, and we provide a space to do this. I think that’s amazing.
HC McGill: What is the McGill Ambassador Program and how did you get involved with it?
MA: MAP is a project I have been working on since May 2014. We are a small team of undergraduate students who share the frustration of navigating the bureaucratic nightmare that McGill so often can be.
HC McGill: What are some goals that the McGill Ambassador program is aiming to achieve?
MA: Our aim is to provide McGill students with the information that they really need. Often at McGill it is almost impossible to get correct information and advice the first time round, or it takes hours of searching. The McGill website can be a maze, Service Point often has a long queue right when you need them, and sometimes you are sent on a circular journey to various offices. This needs to change.
HC McGill: What do you see in the future for the McGill Ambassador Program?
MA: I hope that MAP will help foster a more cohesive community at McGill. In essence, we are all students and staff at the same university. Somebody in that community has the information you need and vice versa. We want to make these connections easier to find and navigate. Whether it’s finding the right club or service to join, or seeking departmental approval to take a course.
HC McGill: Is there anything else you’re involved with at McGill or in Montreal?
MA: Nightline and MAP keep me fairly busy! I recently joined the the Squash Club in an attempt to get back in shape. It’s my final semester, so I’m really just trying to get through it in one piece.
HC McGill: What would you say is your favourite memory so far at McGill?
MA: The first few weeks of this year (my last year at McGill) were amazing. Enjoying the beautiful weather, pre-class OAP, playing a game of football with the lads… What could be better.
HC McGill: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
MA: I have absolutely no idea! I think mental health will soon become a big topic in the private sector. I’d love to be in a job that combines my interests in mental health and economics. Maybe back in England, but who knows.
Images provided by the interviewee.