Ambition and action: a changemaker’s vision for youth prosperity

Darren Harry Baine (he/him) is an individual on an inspired journey of continual growth and development. He views himself as an ‘inspired work-in-progress' in his third year of Biology with a Bioinformatics option. As an international student originally from Kampala, Uganda, he is determined to deliver quality education on an international scale through his non-profit initiative, the Young Eye Foundation. Darren shares his inspiring co-op and entrepreneurial journey, as well as how the Enterprise Co-op program enabled these two journeys to come together. 

How many work terms have you had and what were your responsibilities? 

Darren Baine and the Young Eye Foundation team. I have completed three co-op experiences so far.  

My initial co-op was quite challenging to get, as is often the case with co-op opportunities; It wasn't until the last week before my departure from Canada that I received the fortunate opportunity to work as an international relations analyst with Waterloo International in winter 2022.  

In this role, I was actively engaged in collecting data and information related to international partnerships involving the University of Waterloo and various other institutions and organizations. This experience was truly remarkable, with the privilege of working alongside outstanding individuals who possessed brilliant minds. It significantly propelled me to new levels of expertise and achievement in my field of work.

My second co-op was a personal highlight for me. I worked as a corporate partnership and environmental, social and governance (ESG) intern at Canada’s Children Hospital Foundations. During my four-month co-op, I was engaged in various facets of the organization, with a primary focus on creating partnerships and establishing mutually beneficial agreements with organizations nationwide that aimed to support children's health.  

One of the most significant moments of my experience was when I was entrusted with overseeing and managing the Spark a Miracle campaign in collaboration with Walmart and all children's hospital foundations throughout Canada. 

Darren Baine with his co-workers from Canada's Children Hospital Foundations. For my third co-op term, I enrolled in the Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) program through the Conrad School of Business and Entrepreneurship to focus my efforts on working on The Young Eye Initiative, a three-faceted organization that is home to the Young Eye Foundation, the Young Eye International podcast and the Young & Restless networking group.  

The E Co-op program was a great four-month experience that built my network, knowledge and understanding of running an organization. There were multiple workshops, training seminars and a pitch to help understand the functions of running a business. For anyone looking to build their business, the E Co-op program is a great opportunity! 

Darren Baine smiling with two children. What is the Young Eye Initiative?

The Young Eye Initiative is a non-profit that represents the interests, needs and aspirations of young people. I define it as a perspective of fresh, innovative and contemporary approaches to tackling challenges or developing solutions that resonate with and benefit young people.

The initiative is home to three independent organizations: 

  • The Young Eye Foundation: Founded in 2019, the Young Eye Foundation initially started off as a school project but has eventually grown to become an organization that seeks to improve the livelihood of children in Uganda and eventually Africa. The focus is on early childhood care, education and youth juvenile detention centers. 
  • Young Eye International: A podcast with the goal to simply create a socially connected world by diving deep into discussions and stories from individuals from all backgrounds that help shape the world we live in. My greatest highlight was interviewing Dr. Vivek Goel earlier this summer on the platform.  
  • Young & Restless: The new and latest edition to the initiative, Young and Restless, is a networking, coaching and event focused group that aims to bring together young people from diverse backgrounds that are restless with things, ideas and beliefs they are passionate about.  

While it is not easy running the Young Eye Initiative, what makes it all possible is the fact that I have a wonderful team working with me, each with individual motivations for the cause that we are trying to support in the respective areas. 

What advice do you have for co-op students? 

For anyone seeking advice regarding co-op, I would say apply early, and do not be discouraged if organizations don’t get back to you or reject you. Stay focused and determined to achieve your goal.  

One KEY thing while you are in your co-op is to make sure you build connections and grow your network! 

What’s next for you? 

Looking ahead, I plan on completing my last co-op term in 2024, and eventually graduating in 2025. Most of my focus, time and energy is going to be directed towards building the Young Eye initiative with my incredible team! 

Read more about the ‘inspired work-in-progress’ on Darren’s personal blog.

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