Monday, April 16, 2012

Student Co-Curricular Engagement Awards honour students who are changing the world

Douglas College's inaugural Student Co-Curricular Engagement Awards ceremony was April 3 at the Executive Plaza Hotel in Coquitlam.

The awards honour students who engage with the College, its clubs and the greater community. The ceremony was superbly organized by the staff and students from Douglife and the Centre for Campus Life and Athletics.

[Read more about the awards night on doug, the Douglas community blog.]

The moment was "a dream come true," in the words of VP Educational Services Blaine Jensen. It was the culmination of years of work building student leadership and campus life at Douglas College.

All who attended, me included, were deeply moved and inspired by the accomplishments of the students who were recognized.

We celebrated students who are not only involved, but are in fact trying to change the world through their direct action, whether through volunteering, participating in or establishing clubs and organizations, or working in an NGO or some other kind of organization. These young people believe they can make the world better. They have, and they are. And it was utterly humbling to see what they have accomplished.

Many would have you believe that the latest generation of young adults is obsessed with money and fame — disengaged and apathetic. I'm sorry, but I simply don't buy into that theory, and in fact I've been arguing against it for a long time. The students honored at this event may be special in many ways. But their motivations are typical of what I see in the students at Douglas College. They want to uphold human rights and democratic values, and to protect the environment. They're ambitious to make a difference in the world, and not just to make money. They're already doing amazing things at, and through, Douglas College. [For another great example, see Student Research Day.]

And it's important to note that this celebration, which will be an annual event from now on, isn't about building Douglas College as an institution. This is about helping and working with actual people to create a better world. Institutions like Douglas College should be places where people can explore different ways that they personally can make a difference.

In a nice example of serendipity, in the days after the ceremony, I was invited to discuss leadership with students in a Child, Family and Community Studies class. It was clear that the students saw their career not merely as a job, but as a calling. And at the end of the class, the instructor played a song called "Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World", by Johnny Reid. It was a perfect fit for the class, and it struck me as a perfect theme song for the Engagement Awards celebration.

— Scott


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