Campus Celebrity: Olivia Matthews - Students' Union President & CEO

Meet Olivia! We are sure that you already know this passionate Golden Hawk who is now our Students' Union President & CEO. Olivia won the election with 75% of the entire student vote! We are definitely going to be "better together."

What do you think is the most rewarding and challenging experience of running for Students’ Union President & CEO?

I think the most rewarding and challenging experience is seeing yourself push so hard for something. I don’t think the reward is most necessarily the job; it’s pushing through literally thousands of people judging you. Whether you come out successful or not, you put yourself out there and I respect every candidate that can do that. In the opposite way, you are also figuring out who can support you for you and who can support you for your ideas.

Is there anything during the election process that you would have done differently?

I would have tried to not worry about the things I couldn’t control. Everyone kept on telling me to do what I could do, but I always wanted to do more. At the end of the day not everything is going to go in your favour and you just have to accept that. Sometimes you have to make tough calls and that is something that is transferrable to the position as well. People aren’t always going to love your decisions and that’s okay.

So do you think the entire election process has made you an even better candidate for this position?

Absolutely, I think I’m more efficient in the way I handle situations. I’m more confortable explaining how I feel and backing up that opinion.

Where did you get the idea to run for President & CEO?

It’s funny because a lot of people know I’m close with Annie [Constantinescu] who ran two years ago but there was never a thought in my mind where I was like, “Oh, I’m going to run for President”. It was after being a part of Chandler’s [Joliffe] team last year where I realized there were some things that I felt passionate about that I wanted to see done within the Students’ Union. I wanted to make sure that I was passionate about the values of the organization first, so I applied to be an Executive Volunteer and loved it. More importantly, and I focused on a lot of this in my platform, but I’ve been involved in so many different areas of the university that I think it would be beneficial to students to bring those together. I like to think that I’m a balance of the experience side within the Students’ Union, but then on the opposite side, I can relate to students who don’t feel part of it. Although we are all Students’ Union students, there are some students who don’t feel as engaged in the outputs of the union. So that’s why I ran; I wanted to be able to connect one half with the other.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?

I’m probably going through the most exciting time right now, which is hiring the management team. It is a very challenging and tiring process just coming out of elections and being thrown right into that, but I think starting the year off strong with a strong team is how you’ll be successful for the rest of the year.

How have your accomplishments so far shaped you as a person?

I’m a very nervous person, not self-doubting, but I always think worse case scenario. I think in that sense failure can help you grow as a person and accomplish more things in the end. I also think my accomplishments in university have helped me feel that I can best support students. I’m going to relate it back to donning. It isn’t that I did a good job donning, it’s that years down the road I can have a student come up to me and say “hey” and still have a close relationship there. So that’s an accomplishment in itself because I can impact students. It’s not so much the role itself than what you get out of it and what others get out of it too, because if you’re doing everything for yourself, it’s not worth it in the end and it’s probably not fun.

If you had power over all things Laurier, what changes would you make?

I don’t know if this is really a tangible thing, but we pride ourselves in this whole community spirit, that’s why students come to this school. It’d be cool for everyone on campus to feel that. I think a lot of our campus does, but for those few to feel a part of that connected community. Even being to connect the Brantford campus, which I love, with our community together. We’re both very involved communities so it’d be cool to connect the two.

How did you cope with the stress and anxiety that comes along with running for Students’ Union President?

I’ve always struggled with the stress and anxiety of any position I’ve gone for and just going for things that I might not be successful in throughout university. This time around, it was definitely the people around me. Being comfortable enough to say, “I’m nervous about this” or “I feel weak in this moment”. I like to put on a face a lot; I do it consistently. I can tell you right now, I’m sick, I want to go to bed so badly and it’s okay to not always have your face up. To deal with the stress and anxiety, it was relying on other people and being self-aware enough to know that I don’t always have to be the strongest in the room.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you can only bring three things, what would you bring?

I would definitely bring my partner because I could use some R&R and he would definitely be the one I would want to do that with. I would bring my camera. A lot of people probably don’t know this but I like photography and documenting things. I don’t like when it takes over the experience but like I love having memories through pictures. Again, something weird but I would bring an instrument that I could learn how to play. If I was going to be stuck there for a while, I have the time and it’d be fun. I used to be super into music; I gave that up when I came to university to focus on other things, but if I have the time why not?

What is one thing people would be interested to learn about you?

I used to competitively sing but I don’t anymore, I would be very nervous to get up and sing in front of people. I did that all through high school, and musical theater, I loved it!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I would have answered differently before I’d gotten this position. I’m a political science and global studies major; my passion has always been for the United Nations and I’m working for them now as a think tank for them. It’s something that I’d love to continue doing. That being said, I’m pretty flexible. Two years ago I wouldn’t have expected to run for this role, so I’m excited to see what changes in the future. I do know that I would like to be successful career wise, but I am family oriented as well so I have no shame in saying I would like to have a family someday.

What Jeopardy! category would you clear, no problem?

Frozen. Anything to do with Frozen. I love that movie.

What is one mistake that you have made that you are sure you will make again?

I’m going to go with buying expensive shoes, because everyone who knows me well and has been in my apartment knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with them. Although I am trying to buy less, I’m excited to be in a position where I can wear them.

If you could be one fictional character, who would you be and why?

I would be Merida from Brave. I think I have a really strong bond with my mom and it takes her a while to get there in the movie but she eventually does. They focus on the family oriented side, but I also like the whole aspect of being brave. It’s hard to put yourself out there and it’s hard – this is going to sound cheesy too – as a woman to accept that you can be emotional and brave. That’s something I learned through campaigning as well. I would never stand up and say “I’m very brave” but I think it’s brave to be able to put yourself out there and I think it’s even braver to be able to share with people how you’re feeling, and that’s what Merida does.  

Congratulations on your new position, Olivia. We wish you the best of luck for the upcoming year!