Below is a picture of me helping to herd cows on horseback at a ranch in Northern British Columbia where I stayed for a few weeks

this October. In the early 1970s, the rancher (who later became BC’s minister of Forestry) had quit his job with the Privy Council in Ottawa and lived for more than five years with his wife without electricity or running water. He cleared nearly 500 acres of land through horse drawn logging and built a life for him and his family. Now in his late 60s he continued his farming operations and maintained a dozen horses so he could pass one on to each of his grandchildren. For me, as someone who grew up in the suburbs of Toronto I was blown away to have the opportunity to experience a lifestyle totally alien to my own and learn this man’s story (as well as learn hands on about sustainable food systems). It is this willingness to put myself in unknown situations as well as the curiosity and persistence for learning that has shaped my character, both in my personal and professional lives. What makes me tick on the deepest level is experiences like these that allow me to listen, feel, and observe other peoples’ worldviews and develop myself accordingly. Whatever the scenario I am driven to listen and understand others’ experience without judgement and seek to understand the roots of their perspectives(geography, family, culture, etc). I believe doing so helps me to maintain a curiosity about the world, challenge my own assumptions, and open up my own imagination to what is possible. I believe this personality is what has enabled my work as a community builder. I naturally find myself able to relate to diverse array of people, driven to help connect them, and to encourage them to take pride in embrace their own uniqueness while appreciating difference. I believe the greater the diversity of a community, the more resillient and vibrant it will be. It is this spirit that inspires me to cultivate diversity within myself, whether it be learning about international trade as part of an economic trade mission to China, learning about history and culture by Couchsurfing around Europe, pushing my limits for manual labour as a treeplanter in the forests of Nova Scotia, or through simple everyday acts such as reading a book or getting to know a next door neighbour. Ultimately I see myself as someone living to promote a worldview that everyone has something to teach and every scenario offers something to learn. In other words, a world where everyone has the potential to be a changemaker. Often I reflect on what has motivated these beliefs and usually this begins with a consideration of my family life and childhood. After raising 3 kids my mom went back to university for early childhood education and went on to spend 10 years as a preschool teacher. From her I gained a sense of imagination that motivated me to move through the world with a sense of what might be possible. My dad on the other hand was a hard nosed, self taught entrepreneur who used family dinners as a chance to run me and my

brothers through sales 101 roleplays. From him I gained a sense of tenacity, perseverance, and sense of accountability which ingrained a commitment to go to the ends of the earth to follow through on my word. Combined with the support of two mentoring older brothers, a network of lifelong friends, and teachers that always told me I was destined to do great things, I was born into an environment that gave me the confidence, creativity, and resourcefulness to exercise my own sense of agency and pursue my dreams. I still wake up everyday feeling incredibly grateful for this upbringing and find much of my life motivation stems from a desire to pay forward this type of supportive environment. Indeed for as long as I can remember I've been possessed by the entrepreneurial urge to make my mark in the world. For instance, in the summer before grade 7 I quit my paper route and tried starting a small scale web design and lawn care businesses. In grade 9, I translated my love for basketball into an online sports apparel and memorabilia business that provided my pocket money throughout high school and helped fund my university education. (Below is my grade 7 class picture when I attempted my first entrepreneurial venture, I am in the far left in the middle row). This sense of agency also took the form of political engagement. I entered high school just after 9-11, and this provoked a strong interest in political economy, global governance, and grassroots organizing. It also compelled me to participate in my first political action; the historic protests against the American invasion of Iraq. Being a “go-getter” from an early age fostered in me a sense of extreme independence (and at times also borderline megalomia). As time moved on though, I found this highly individualistic approach to be ill suited to true leadership. I had a major wake up call while serving as an executive of my high school student council where I struggled to trust the efforts of others and instead worked myself ragged while working solo on the initiatives I took on. This was a challenge I would later confront head on. In grade 12, empowered by learning the countless stories of youth-led organizations via the internet, as well as feeling limited by the structures of school, I decided to start an initiative called Mavericks of Social Change. My intention was to help other youth with creative and entrepreneurial urges find mentorship and early stage support. I was especially motivated to support those who didn't grow up with as supportive of an environment as I did. By my 3rd year of university this organization had grown significantly, with a strong community of volunteers, as well as a base of funding. The success of the

organization attracted the attention of the Mayor of Halifax and senior administration of Dalhousie University, who both offered me jobs in community organizing. This was my dream coming true and I wasn’t one to turn down an opportunity, so I took on both these projects while continuing to build the Mavericks network. This launched a phase of my life where I was immersed in an overwhelming level of responsibility for a 20 year old, including the management of large budgets and the safety of young peoples lives. I would regularly have dozens of meetings per day, and month long stretches of nearly sleepless work. This period of my life is captured by the picture beside in which two friends pose with a bus ad that was part of a nationwide Dal recruitment campaign. The tagline, “I’m always starting something” seemed to pretty accurately sum up the spirit of my adolescent life and also challenged me to begin confronting my own sense of ego and vanity as I began to enter into a more public spotlight. Driven still by my Mothers imaginative inspiration and Fathers tenacity I worked tirelessly for a year to fulfill the projects I had committed to. I had a record of success with these initiatives, however in the midst of this I began realizing there was a lot more to true leadership than just always starting something. This connects closely to the final picture in which I’m alongside friends at a cottage in Cape Breton where we built a small scale wind turbine and hosted a solar powered music concert. Over time in Halifax I connected with an incredible community of friends and mentors who were as interested in people's sense of values as their achievements. These were folks who daily demonstrated the world changing potential of the simplest acts done with the highest sense of integrity. This was a community of people who thought critically about what type of action was truly needed in the world to bring about social and environmental justice. Influenced by this community, I became more aware of how my own sense of mental and emotional intelligence impacted my leadership effectiveness, and began taking a more strategic, patient, and mature approach to my leadership. These were considerations that served me very well in the midst of two years in intensive executive roles with the Dalhousie Student Union as I sought to go the full distance with the initiatives I had initiated, while creating an empowering environment for all involved. I feel this diverse array of experiences has given me a strength and breadth of character that allows me to act as a social connector, bridging diverse learning styles, political ideologies, and personalities. It has been a unique journey of learning and one that I would be excited to continue as a member of the Studio Y community.