"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind."
Anyone that knows me knows that there’s very few things I love more than being a Student Trustee. You might not know much about the position, but it’s one I’m thankful every day to fufill. I truly have an enormous passion for position and it’s become a defining part of me.
I won’t bore you with what I do or what the role is on paper or what it says in the Education Act. Because for me, it’s become so much more than an advocacy role. It’s become a defining part of me as a human being. For me, the most rewarding part is not the titles or the prestige- it’s the fact that I got to be a family with 13 other incredible people.
The Ontario Student Trustees Association (OSTA-AECO) is the organization I owe so much to. OSTA-AECO is where all of Ontario’s Student Trustees come together to learn, grow and advocate for the students we serve. Governing the association is its Executive Council, a group of the provinces most elite, talented and premier student leaders.
The executive council is chosen each year through a series of elections at OSTA-AECO’s annual general meeting, and includes a president, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and seven officers for the areas of communication, policy, professional development, operations, administration, French-language relations and website development. Also elected are the President and Vice Presidents of both the Catholic and Public Board Councils, who also sit on the Executive.
At my first Annual General Meeting in May, 2016, I ran for two Executive positions and was defeated in both elections. Looking back, I was an open-eyed little brat who didn’t know a single thing about being a Student Trustee, much less running an organization. However, I applied one last time a few months later for the appointed position of Webmaster. I remember being on vacation, wondering if I was going to be chosen or not. Never before had I wanted anything as badly as I wanted to be on the Executive Council fulfilling this role. It was a hail mary and am I ever glad I took it.
I heard back about two weeks later that I was successful in getting the role. I was ecstatic. I was excited to get to work in redesigning our website, I was excited to use my media background to hopefully help our public relations operation and I was excited to advocate for the students of Ontario. You see, I thought I was walking into a group of people who were motivated, passionate and ready to go to work for the students of Ontario.
What I got was so much more: a family.
I got to be a part of a team that I could be myself around. It wasn’t always easy: We were broken, we fought, we disagreed, and at times, we went to hell and back. But we also picked each other back up again, we sacrificed for each other, we loved each other and we always had each other's backs. Defeat was softened and victories were sweetened because we did them together. And looking back, no other team I’ve ever been a part of, or will be part of, will compare to this one.
We expanded OSTA-AECO’s brand, we built relationships where before nobody thought it could have been done due to hostilities. We ran the most amazing professional development for Ontario’s Student Trustees I think OSTA-AECO has ever offered. We gained provincial and national media attention. We listened to our members and the students we serve with an open mind and never forgot where we came from. We pushed policy, advocated for students and made our mark on Ontario’s education system.
We fundamentally changed the game when it comes to student leadership.
I firmly believe we did it because we wanted to give our best to each other. We wanted to work harder for each other and we pushed each other to give 110% in everything we did. I truly believe we were the most successful Executive team OSTA-AECO has ever had, and I believe it because our passion was unmatched. We believed so firmly in our heart of hearts in the simple analogy of TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More- and that’s why we did everything together, leaving nobody behind.
Anyone who knows me knows my biggest belief in life is that decisions are made by those who show up. This team took showing up to a whole new level, and fundamentally made me believe even more strongly that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. This team didn’t know the word “no” and wasn’t ever afraid to say the words “I don’t know” but always followed that phrase up by saying “I’m going to learn and become even better.”
Connor, not only did this team win the World Series, we also won the Superbowl, Stanley Cup, FA Cup and Olympic Gold. We won every trophy imaginable and did it in world record setting time. This is a dynasty that nobody will ever forget. We were the best in the world and there’s no team in the world I’d rather go up to bat with.
Kayvon, Karina, Connor, Alex, Nic, Manuela, Kevin, Dasha, Stefan, Shams, Katie, and Hannah: thank you for letting me be me. Thank you for accepting me with open arms onto this team. Thank you for your belief in each other and your passion for everything we did. Thank you for believing in me, for giving me a shot, and letting me be a part of this family. This will forever be my team and I can never repay what you all have given to me.
We came. We saw. We goddamn conquered.
Aviate- Navigate- Communicate