Education makes a world of difference

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Apart from studying full-time, Abedi represents on-campus students as the Royal Roads University Student Association vice president. She volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society regularly and works part-time as a student activities assistant in the student engagement office. Her role is to coordinate Student Engagement’s community service leadership project which connects students to meaningful opportunities to give back to the community.

“I felt very isolated and alone when I first moved here because I hadn’t found like-minded people,” Abedi says. “That’s what drove me to volunteer. I started meeting people from different communities and that gave me a better sense of myself.”

Abedi recently initiated a baking program at Pacifica Housing, a charity that provides services for those dealing with the effects of homelessness, mental health or addiction. Students and residents meet monthly to make cookies and other sweet treats.

Students get the chance to learn about the importance of stable, affordable housing and residents learn that they are valued and cared for, says Laurie Chesworth, Pacifica Housing program coordinator: “When these very enthusiastic young people show up and they’re talking and baking, it just means the world to residents and it makes them feel like they’re more a part of the community,” she says. “It’s all so validating for our residents.”

Despite the small time commitment, students gain a lot of experience says Claire Clarke, student engagement coordinator. “Ideally they’re able to translate that into the rest of their lives and into what they’re learning in the classroom,” she says.

Before moving to Canada, Abedi says she was “shy.” It’s hard to believe that the outgoing student wouldn’t have described herself as a “people person” just one year ago. Now she says she has the confidence and networking skills she needs to be successful in school and in life.

negar pacifica housing

“The environment and the community in Canada is so different. People are accepting of who you are and your ideas even if they disagree. I didn’t really have that luxury before. This new environment opened the door for that side of my personality to come out,” she says.

Abedi says her community service work has inspired her to explore career opportunities in the non-profit sector after graduation. Thexton says he’s certain she has big things ahead.

“I get the strong sense that Negar’s not just looking for a degree,” he says. “She has something in mind that’s much grander in scope and much more important and that is very exciting.”

 

Special thanks to Royal Roads University's staff for providing us with this feature. This article was originally published on RRU's website.

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