Savannah is someone that I’m so lucky to call a good friend for almost two years now. I knew that she was always a huge fan and advocate for everything Orientation, and I decided to ask her about her role in orientation throughout her years here as well as her involvement in other extracurriculars at this awesome university she loves so much!
1. What year and program are you in?
I’m in my 4th year of health studies.
2. What do you hope to accomplish after graduation?
I’m looking into paediatric nursing and midwifery. I also want to learn Spanish fluently so I can travel to South America, and I would love to visit every continent as well.
3. What are some of your favourite extracurriculars that you’ve been involved with over the years?
I’ve always been involved with something music related since high school, and since I came here I’ve been involved in choir, which is something that I really love.
I really like student life on campus. One of the things I’ve always loved being involved with is Orientation. I’m also an Applied Health Sciences (AHS) ambassador, which I love. Give me an incoming student and I will talk to them for hours about why I love UW. Another thing I loved was my involvement with Feds. I’m the Societies Relations Commissioner, so I work as an advocate and resource for student societies on our main campus and our satellite campuses. I am also a peer leader for the Living-Learning Community with the School of Public Health and Health Systems. I just love first years.
4. What inspires you to be so involved?
I like being involved because it makes me so happy. One example, with Orientation week, is seeing first years and Leaders and their excitement towards the week. It’s amazing. I think, even if you can only help improve the experience of a handful of students, that you still impacted their experience here. I also just think it’s a great way to meet people. For lack of a better phrase, it helps you find your place, since you meet like-minded people and that’s really nice.
5. How did you get involved in Orientation?
It kind of goes back to high school. I was always involved in event planning and I was also involved in student council. Working with different student groups, seeing people enjoying themselves and meeting new people was all amazing.
When I came to UW as a first year, halfway through orientation, I had lost my voice because I had SO much fun. When orientation applications opened in first year, I finished it as soon as it opened. In second year, I was a front-line leader, our team wore tighty-whities over our pants, and I lost my voice again. As a front-line leader, I got to meet so many upper years and first years, and I really got a taste of the AHS culture that I LOVE. In second year I became involved with AHS ambassadors. I also wanted to learn more about the back end of Orientation, and so I applied to be Orientation Coordinator for AHS, and luckily, I was hired. I worked closely with the Federation Orientation Committee (FOC) and the other Coordinators to make Orientation week the best it could be for the incoming first year students, and no, I didn’t lose my voice that time. For what would have been my fourth year, I was Student Success Office (SSO) FOC, and after orientation I took the term off. As SSO FOC, I had leaders from all over campus, making it a great way to meet people from all faculties and stretch my comfort zone as well. It made me realize how much I want to be involved with the whole UW community, instead of just the AHS faculty. Don’t get me wrong, I still love AHS, but I like being involved with the whole university and fostering that Warrior pride as well as making programming for students of all faculties. But then I decided to go away, and interview to be an Orientation Programs Assistant (OPA) for Orientation 2017.
6. What was it like being an OPA?
So the job is part time from November until April, and then full time from May to the end of Orientation week. As an OPA I looked at the administrative side of Orientation. I worked closely with the Feds Orientation Department, and the Feds President, the FOC, Orientation Advisors (OA) and my counterpart in the SSO. My job was pretty much the next step above from FOC. It’s a behind the scenes job, working with all the Orientation Swag, various campus partners and external partners. Both the Assistant Coordinator, Orientation and I also oversaw a subcommittee of FOC for leader appreciation and I worked closely with the FOC and the OA’s as a support and a resource for both.
7. What’s your favourite part about the UWaterloo community?
I think it’s all the unique experiences that everyone brings to the table. Even within a faculty, everyone has their own interests and passions that shape their experiences and how they work with others. People are also very passionate, whether it’s in academics, sports, or whatever, someone has this passion and it’s pretty clear. We, as a community, are moving more towards a “Warrior Pride” environment more, which I’m really happy to see.
8. What life lessons have you learnt during your university career?
Although life is the longest thing that it’s also really short.
I took time off from school, and I think that University has shown me that timelines don’t exist. If you want to do it all you can. No one should be forcing you down a certain path, you should be able to go down whatever roads and explore whatever passions you have. People say it’s A to B, but really it’s A to Z. You go to university and then there’s everything in between, hobbies, work, leisure, etc. And Z can be whatever you want to be.
9. What advice would you give your first-year self?
“It’s ok that you don’t want to be a doctor.” It’s totally fine to change your mind with what you want out of life.
I would also say “Life isn’t a competition”, it’s easy to compare yourself to your floor mates or your high school friends but in the end it doesn’t matter.
Thank you so much Savannah, thank you for all your hard work and all the best with everything in the future!