Jessica Lee, Volunteer Queen

Age: 21

Program: Health Sciences

Hometown: Mississauga, ON

How did you get involved with Western’s Cancer Awareness Society?

I first found out about CAS during Clubs Week when I was in first year! Just like so many other students at Western I have had some very personal experiences with cancer. So naturally, their Clubs Week booth caught my eye! I knew from the start that I wanted to be more involved beyond general membership (not that general members aren’t important too, they rock and clubs would be nothing without them!) so I applied to be an executive on the Promotions Team to help with promoting the club’s events.

What is the Cancer Awareness Society’s goal for this year?

One of the main goals CAS has for this year is to reach more of the student body at Western with our educational and awareness campaigns. We want to increase awareness surrounding cancer screening and cancer prevention, and inspire students to join the fight against cancer. Joining the fight against cancer means something different for everyone and that is okay! We want everyone to feel as though their efforts against cancer are meaningful whether you are sharing screening and prevention information with your loved ones or donating money to research foundations.

Our annual “Bar Night for Boobies” is our main event for fundraising independently as a club. The remainder of our events are focused on raising awareness, educating the student body on their risk for cancer, and providing tips on how to minimize that risk so that cancer can seem a little less scary! This year my team and I are working hard to bring different community partners together to help keep Western students informed about cancer risk, screening and prevention.

What else do you do on campus?

Over the past four years at Western I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a lot of different campus activities. Besides CAS, my one constant throughout my campus experiences has been my involvement in the Health Sciences Soph Team and Orientation Week program. Being a Soph has provided me with my best friends, my study buddies and the extremely rewarding experience of helping first year students transition to university life. I also served as the Charity Programming Assistant for the Health Sciences Soph Team this year which allowed me to further explore my passion for helping engage Western students in charity initiatives as well as create initiatives of my own!

Additionally, in my 3rd year I volunteered with Let’s Talk Science which is an organization that partners university students with elementary school classrooms to provide fun, age appropriate, hands-on workshops in science, technology, engineering and math. It was so special to see the spark in students’ eyes as they realized that they have a passion for science. The program is free to participate in and I highly recommend this program to anyone with a passion for working with children or teaching!

I also had the opportunity to be on Faculty of Health Sciences Students Council in my 3rd year which gave me some insight on the ins and outs of student politics! I recommend getting involved with your faculty’s student council if you are someone who is passionate about making change within your faculty and on campus!

What is your favorite experience that Western has provided you?

Last reading week I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans through Western’s Alternative Spring Break Program. I shared this experience with 38 amazing Western students who challenged me to think differently about the world while also managing to make me laugh until I cry! We worked with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity to help build new homes for families who lost theirs to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. My group was fortunate enough to meet the woman who was going to be living in the home we were building; her name was Rose. Rose was funny, sassy and her resilience in the face of what she dealt with since Katrina was inspiring. She was an amazing storyteller and I still hope to take her up on her offer to serve some home-style Louisiana cooking in her new home if we’re ever back in New Orleans!

What are your plans after you graduate?

I'm hoping to do a Master’s in Public Health! In the end I hope to end up in a position that allows me to help address inequities in health within Canada and abroad. Western’s Health Sci program has opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many factors that influence health that extend beyond individual control. It’s a dream of mine to help address the inequities that stand in the way of certain individuals, groups and populations achieving health.

What was your favorite thing to do in London?

Walk through Victoria Park when the Christmas decorations are up!

Do you have any mottos that you live by?

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”  —William Shakespeare

Where is the last place you have travelled to?

The last place I travelled to was New York City to visit two of my best friends who are currently living there! We fit so much adventure into 3 short days and I can’t wait to go back again and pretend that I live there with them!

Jessica is the president of the Cancer Awareness Society. To find out more, or to get involved, send her an email at [email protected]