IGNITE can provide me with the platform to continue to push for more representation and more outlets for other students who feel they are not being heard or seen.”

Meshanda Phillips, your Lakeshore campus Student Engagement Coordinator

Everything IGNITE does is to make your life easier. Our events, bursaries and clubs are all set up to help you get maximum enjoyment out of your student experience. But, we aren’t mind readers. To make sure we’re implementing the programs you want and the services you need, we need to hear from you.

All 33,000 of you.

Wait, what?

That’s right: IGNITE advocates for over 33,000 students across all three of our campuses. (That’s enough to fill Scotiabank Arena more than one and a half times!) So, to hear from each of you individually, we need some extra hands.

Enter: your Student Engagement Coordinators (SECs).

Your SECs are your voice at IGNITE. It’s their job to learn what you want, what you need, and to communicate those desires to the people up top. In short, your SECs work with you – for you.

IGNITE recently recruited Meshanda Phillips, a graduate of Humber College‘s Bachelor of Social Science – Criminal Justice program, as your new Lakeshore campus SEC. She’ll be working with you to curate a student experience you’ll never forget. So, we thought you might like to know a bit more about her.

Check out our full interview with Phillips below:

Tell us a bit about yourself! What are your personal passions?

Phillips: One of my biggest passion[s] is my love for non-profits and lending my time to a local youth homeless shelter. Meeting the youths at this specific shelter three years ago changed my life and imprinted a new meaning on me about the true definition of love and resilience. I am so grateful to meet them and let them know they are seen. So, each year, I do a fundraiser that my partner and I call the “Pay It Forward Dinner Event”. Through our fundraising efforts and our own money, [the event] has dinner catered for them.

Journaling is a huge part of my life. I also love to create inspirational and positive content on Canva to post on my Instagram and I also started my blog journey where I share my truths. When I am not doing those, I love to cook and watch TV.

A personal goal [of mine] is to continue to instill in my children that you are never too early to start dreaming and it is never too late for those dreams to come true. I am living proof of that, especially as a mature student, divorcee and single mom.

Meshanda Phillips.
Image courtesy of Meshanda Phillips.

What are your professional goals?

Phillips: My professional dream is to work in student life and open up my non-profit called Cycle Ends Now (CEN) with my partner. It was a project created as part of an assignment in [my undergraduate program] – but, due to incredible feedback, we are working on registering it.

CEN’s mission is that we are committed to ending the cycle of intimate partner violence perpetrated toward women, while also focusing on the perpetrator through a restorative process. The goal is to provide relief, restoration, and comfort through adequate support, education, counseling, and resources.

What was your student journey like at Humber?

Phillips: I started at [the] North [campus] in the Law Clerk program but did not finish and decided to go into a degree. So, [I was at Humber for] over six years. I completed the Honors Bachelor of Social Science – Criminal Justice program in 2020. Most recently, [I completed] an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution in 2021.

I’m currently accepted into the Master of Education – Adult Education and Community Development program at the University of Toronto.

What drew you to working with IGNITE?

Phillips: I have had the fantastic opportunity to volunteer and work in student life as a work-study student for several years. I have also sat in countless open houses, info sessions and “Meet your Faculty” sessions to hear the needs of prospective and current students. Being in those sessions has been the reason I advocate for students.

I have spent the last three years pushing for a mature student platform. Through my previous work with FYE, I was able to create the mature student success events which led to the creation of the Mature Student Success Humber club. IGNITE can provide me with the platform to continue to push for more representation and more outlets for other students who feel they are not being heard or seen.

What’s something you wish all students knew about IGNITE?

Phillips: I hope students know all the fantastic services IGNITE offers. I think students are often told about the available academic services but not about the other supports available. And, most importantly, they have an incredible group of people who are always ready to help and advocate for them.

Meshanda Phillips.
Image courtesy of Meshanda Phillips.

What excites you most about representing students as an SEC?

Phillips: I am a former mature student, a single mother and part of the BIPOC community. There is so much I represent and I want to express and amplify all those voices. But, also, for everyone on campus, I want to enrich their college experiences and be that person that listens and puts forward their concerns.

What strategies have you found most useful during the last year of (mostly) remote learning?

Phillips: At the onset of the pandemic, I was diagnosed with anxiety. I tell people that, even though I have been through so much in my life, my anxiety experience has been the worst. Therefore, I put myself in counselling to cope.

I [also] journal, surround myself with positive affirmation in my home, connect virtually with my church group and just protect my mental health. I think the best strategies were speaking up and not suffering in silence, being organized, creating a schedule and taking a day out of the week not to focus on work or school and [to] practice self-care.

What song best describes you?

Phillips: Brave by Sara Bareilles. I felt silenced for so long that I could not speak my truth. Or, I was afraid to talk because I was so concerned about what others [would] think of me. Looking back, it was like I was living in someone else’s view of who they thought I should be. So, now, whenever I am feeling in doubt or afraid to do something, I listen to that song to remind myself that I am Brave and that I am not the only one going through something.

Sara Bareilles.

If you have questions or suggestions about how IGNITE can improve your student experience, get in touch with Phillips and her fellow SECs!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.*

Get to know Camila Ruiz Tacha and Julia Ciampa: your North campus and UofGH SECs!

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