Upon entering my fourth year, I wanted to look back to appreciate all the amazing women I have been lucky enough to have encountered during my time at Western University. My female friendships and mentors created an environment that has allowed me into the confident woman I am. Surrounding myself with strong women enabled me to grow in my personal life and career.
My first official mentor came in the form of a professor. This professor engaged with me from my very first university-level class and later, seeing my potential, asked if I would act as a research assistant for a project she was conducting on female playwrights of the 21st century. Working early on with such a confident and young female academic completely changed my perception of university and its accompanying institutions for the better. I saw myself in this bubbly, intelligent professor whose passion for the liberal arts didn't make her "unemployable" —a myth often sold to us— but instead a valued player in the academic sphere. Her kindness and understanding of students' individual circumstances in first year didn't make her a "pushover" but simply an empathetic educator who valued her students' learning over their outputs.
In my second year, I joined BoostHER, an all-female networking group founded by two upper-year students that I had gone to high school with. The thought of networking within the business world as an arts and humanities student felt daunting. Still, this small community of women committed to uplifting each other's pursuits felt like the perfect opening.
Finally, this past summer, I took part in a four-month internship at Citizen Relations, a PR company in Toronto. I was interviewed by two wonderful women, one of which would later become a manager, mentor, and friend. The culture at this company was fantastic, which I, in part, attributed to my female-dominated team. There was open communication between all levels of management, full-team brainstorming sessions, and, most importantly, the overwhelming feeling that those around me wanted to see me succeed.
Quite frankly, I only know the woman I'd like to be because, time and time again, I have seen her in front of me.