Drawing on the insights of others can be a valuable step towards creating positive change. See what four Waterloo alumni have learned as they’ve worked to make a difference in the world.


1. Look beyond your day to day

When searching for opportunities to support causes we care about, accounting alumnus Alice Madolciu (BA ’07) encourages us to explore options outside the office.

“These days we often look at our career as what defines us, but I don’t think we should be limited to that,” she says. “We have all kinds of interests and do all kinds of things with our time, and all of those things can lead to positive change.”


2. Take small steps towards your goal

When Scott Ste. Marie (BES ’13) started his website Depression to Expression, his goal was to help one person through a difficult time.

“I wanted students to have a down-to-earth resource for when they are in pretty painful situations,” he recalls. So he uploaded a YouTube video about his diagnoses of clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

That was six years ago. Today, his YouTube channel features nearly 600 videos, which reach more than 20 million people around the world.


Mohsen Shahini

3. Get help

Mohsen Shahini (PhD ’11), whose company Top Hat ranked 200 on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list of growing businesses last fall, says that it’s important to solve problems in collaboration with people from a variety of backgrounds.

“When you’re not developing skills from new cultures, that becomes your enemy,” he says. Having come to Waterloo as an international student, he’s seen first-hand that drawing on diverse perspectives can transform a single idea into a life-changing venture.


4. Stay positive

Alumni who have transformed their lives to pursue their passions admit that it isn’t easy.

“Taking a leap of faith takes courage, especially when the future path isn’t clear,” says Katherine Forster (BES ’93), who gave up a career in environmental planning to carve out a path as an urban biophilic entrepreneur, “but following what you love never steers you wrong in the end.”