To serve, empower, and represent – these are the core values on which the Federation of Students (Feds) was founded fifty years ago (by a couple of couch surfing student leaders, as it turns out). The Feds 50th Gala, fittingly held at Federation Hall (or rather some semblance of it - a story for another time) on April 22nd was a congregation of former and current staff, students, student leaders, and executive—all who left, or continue to leave their mark, on a historic timeline.
I’m humbled, honored, and proud to have been part of a collective that has shaped the landscape of student representation, engagement, politics, and shenanigans for half a century. The Feds has always been an integral element of student life at Waterloo, and it was certainly the most significant chapter in mine. I had the opportunity to work as a full- and part-time staff member since 2003 in various capacities at iconic landmarks such as Ground Zero, The Bomber, and Federation Hall, literally serving students. Those venues were the hub of campus life for many, serving as the best restaurant and bar of course, but also as a study hall, movie theater (if you liked Top Gun or Super Troopers), and general space for relaxation. It was also the epicenter of marquee events and the home of the legendary Bomber Wednesday. Man, if those walls could talk...
This experience was a defining moment for me during my time at Waterloo. My employment was the gateway to discover the Feds as an organization and fully understanding the depth, breadth, and the impact it has on students every day, whether students realize it or not. Aside from being responsible for the aforementioned venues, which is no easy task, the Feds is student life. From governance to advocacy, and from representation to essential services and businesses, this organization is the cornerstone of campus culture. I had the distinct honor of being elected and serving as an executive (V.P. Administration & Finance) for a two-year term, a role and time I cherish and still carry with me today. It was a unique and rare opportunity, unlike any other classroom experience, that taught me cooperation, the art of negotiation, the meaning of compromise, and perhaps most importantly, the value of relationships.
As Ms. Burdett remarked during her address, "Feds is about the people," which is one of the reasons I came back to celebrate. My relationships from that era have stood the test of time. I was reunited with my executive team - Kevin Royal, Jonah Levine, and Darcy Higgins - for the first time in seven years (since Jonah's wedding). We reminisced about the late nights, the council/board meetings, the disagreements, the pranks, the work (oh, the work), and of course the list of accomplishments :) (*cough* the UPASS).
My time with the Feds and the University of Waterloo shaped me as an individual and is the reason I am where I am today. My life, perspective, and career path (which still includes working with student associations) are owed to this chapter in my life and I am deeply grateful to everyone that was part of that journey. I fortunately still have the pleasure of working with Feds and their new crop of executives as a partner every year. As such, I have seen firsthand how this organization continues to grow and lead across Canada. I also continue to work with the dedicated staff, the people I have known the longest outside my family. Congratulations on fifty years and I look forward to seeing what the next 50 years bring.
To learn more about the FEDS and to see pictures from the gala, please visit www.feds.ca. If you would like to reach out and connect with me, please email me directly at: email@example.com
Here's to continuing to serve, empower, and represent every day.