Events Coordinator

Mac Fred Mbonimpa — Event and activities coordinator at the Student Association of College La Cité

Mac Fred Mbonimpa — event and activities coordinator at the Student Association of College La Cité
About Mac Fred Mbonimpa

Mac Fred Mbonimpa (@MbonimpaMac), is the event and activities coordinator at the Student Association of College La Cité. After his graduation 2 years ago at college La Cité, Mac started his professional career at La Cité in events as the event coordinator.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa has been a dedicated and accomplished event coordinator at College La Cité, bringing a wealth of expertise and creativity to the realm of event planning. With a passion for creating memorable experiences for students, Mac has played a pivotal role in organizing and executing a variety of successful events for the college community.

Throughout his tenure, Mac has demonstrated a keen eye for detail, ensuring that every event is meticulously planned and flawlessly executed. He has collaborated with various stakeholders, including faculty, staff, and students, to bring innovative and engaging events to life.

One of Mac’s notable strengths lies in his ability to adapt to diverse event requirements. From academic conferences to cultural celebrations, as he was an international student himself, he has consistently delivered events that resonate with attendees and leave a lasting impression.

Mac is not only known for his organizational prowess but also for his exceptional communication skills. He has fostered positive relationships with vendors, sponsors, and participants, contributing to the overall success of each event.

As Mac reflects on his career as an event coordinator at College La Cité, he takes pride in the collective achievements and the positive impact created through memorable and well-executed events.

Connect with Mac: Email | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

College La Cité

Student Association at College La Cité

Canadian Organization of Campus Activities (COCA)

COCA Conferences

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator. This is your host, Sam Demma. And today I have a very special guest, a young guest, someone that I met this past summer at a conference called COCA, the Canadian Association of Campus Activities. And we connected, we stayed in touch. This young man is doing amazing work in the university space, in the college space at La Cite, as an event programmer. Today’s special guest is Mac Fred Mbonimpa. Mack, please start by introducing yourself.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
Thank you, Sam. Yeah, as you said, my name is Mac Fred Mbonimpa. I’m an event coordinator at La Cite College. It’s my second year as the occupying that post, and it’s been a great experience. As you said, we met in COCA. It’s a conference that happens every summer where universities and colleges, event coordinators and artists and everyone with talent get together to meet and to experience a good, the magic of events, I’ll say like that. Magical events and marketing, programming. Yeah, and I think it was a good experience there at COCA. I went there as an event coordinator and Sam was there as a, I’d say, a keynote speaker going to meet others, right? So I don’t know if I said it right, but this is where we met and we connected. And I’m glad that he invited me today. It’s a pleasure. So tell me a little bit about the work that you do with La Cite and what got you interested in events? Because I know you not only do work with the college,

Sam Demma
So tell me a little bit about the work that you do with La Cite and what got you interested in events? Because I know you not only do work with the college, but you also just love the magic of events in general. So where did that passion start? And tell me about the work that you do.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
To be honest, when I started, I just finished college and I didn’t know what to do because I wasn’t planning to stay here in Canada. I was thinking of getting my PR and go back to Burundi, but I got a chance, I was working in Quebec City in a car dealership, and I had a friend who worked at the Students’ Association of Les Clay Collegiales. And he called me, he was like, oh, Mark, I know you just graduated and we’re looking for someone in events. And I know you, he’s a friend of mine, I know you, we go out sometime together, and I know your vibe and I know it’s something you would do. And I was like, okay, well, what is the job exactly? It was like, you know, you’ll be coordinating events. I was like, okay, never done that. Instead of, it’s not my birthday or my sister’s birthday. So, I was like, okay, I graduated in business administration. And so I thought I would be doing, going to work in an administration somewhere in a hospital or something like that before I get my PR. And I wasn’t happy where I was in Quebec City. I wasn’t feeling good because I was so far from the family, so far from the friends. I was alone there. And the sales were not going good. I wasn’t selling that much. So I was like, okay, I’ll give it a try. What is the interview? He’s like, okay, you can just submit your CV. I submitted it and then I had the interview. It was a Friday and I came back from work so pissed because I was trying to negotiate with my boss to raise my pay because I wasn’t selling and I wasn’t getting that much money. So he said, he wasn’t agreeing with me. So I was like, oh, I have an interview for a job. And that was, in Quebec City, I went there for my internship when I finished. So I just finished and I heard it’s a job at La Cité and I lived like three minutes from La Cité. I was like, that’s good. So I didn’t know what I’m going into. I go to the interview, Al was there, Allen was there, and they were interviewing me, asking me questions about the student association. I didn’t know anything. I was like, what do we do at the student association? It’s like, I went three years at Slashy Tether. I don’t know anything about the student association. It was so bad. But when it came to my character, when it came to talking, animating, you know, cause I was young too. So he said, it’s a really, it’s a job. It’s a good job when you’re young cause you’re more motivated, more ready to move, more ready to organize and be more creative. So Al liked me like that. He was like, okay, thank you. After the interview was good. And he was like, okay, we’ll call you back. And I call my friend, the friend, I was like, man, I just did the interview. And I think, I don’t know how he went, but I missed some questions. And my friend was like, okay, we’re gonna see. And I get another call back like two minutes after, and I didn’t know it was Alain. So he’s like, hey, I get the call. I’m like, I thought he’s one of my friends, that was the same friend who just called me. I picked up the phone, I was like, yo. And I was like, hi, I’m Al, we were in the interview together. I was like, oh, I’m sorry, I thought it was my friend, Colin, so I felt so down, like, wow, I just, this is my potential boss, and I’m paying you. But he said, you know, you start on Tuesday. I was like, what? You start on Tuesday. So five minutes after the interview, I got the job. Wow. I was so impressed. And he told me the pay and I was so glad and so happy. And he told me that I’ll be working like from home when I want. So it’s like a really easy job to do. Like you can be home, you can work from school. If I don’t have any event, I can be working from home. I was like, that’s so good. And I’m still in Quebec city, which is five hours from Ottawa and I’m starting on Tuesday. So I was like, wow. So Saturday I go, I see my boss. I’m like, man, according to the discussion we had yesterday, I thought about it. I can’t stay here. And going back to Ottawa, I was like, okay. But we had a good relationship with my boss. He’s young. But I wasn’t agreeing to what he was proposing. So I went back, I came back to Ottawa and then I started on Tuesday and Alan told me the first day he was like, the reason why I chose you is because I saw you’re a guy who’s motivated, energetic and everything. So I want you to use that to learn, to learn because for real I had zero experience in it, zero. So and Al is a good teacher, I would say that Al’s been my mentor in events. He knows, I always tell him that most of everything I know I learned it from you. So it was in May I think, yeah it was in May. So the school was starting in September so I had a lot of months to learn. So we started, we started, he taught me everything from cables, how to keep cables, how to keep them, how to roll everything, how to use mics, how to sign contracts. He taught me, we used that summer to prepare the September and I was learning. And two weeks after it was COCA. Two weeks after that I got the job was COCA. So it was a good thing for me. I went to Koka and then I met the schools. I met many people who do my job and I didn’t know anything about my job. And that’s what I’ll tell people. Once you have an experience, everything, you don’t know anything. So it was a good time, was a good time. You know, Koka, we were partying every day. And some, after that, I was like, wow, everyone is organized. Everyone has their shit together. Everyone has their things lined up, you know, almost asking, can you show me your schedule? Can you show me your September calendar? I was like, I don’t have any of that. But the good thing, we had a group chat and we were like, we would be sharing ideas, asking questions, you know. So this is what helped me too. COCA helped me a lot. So because in September, at some point, I had like weeks when I didn’t have anything planned. I was like, okay, I don’t have any more ideas. And I would ask friends from COCA. So it really helped me. This is where I started. So by the time it was in September, I was ready to start. It was a good time and a good experience.

Sam Demma
So two years ago, Al asked you the question, what does the Student Association do? The Student Union. And you didn’t have an answer. Let me ask you that now again, so you can redeem yourself. What does the Student Association do, Mac?

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
The Student Association is, I’ll call it, it’s like the parent, your parent, when you are in school, by the time you’re in school, it’s your parent because it gives you everything you need, they’re capable of giving you, except from academic wise. So they deal with the student life. So what we do in the Student Association, we give you insurance, we give you, we have the bank food, we have, say, any question you have, any questions students have, they can come to our offices and we’ll figure out a way to answer them. Yeah, so we make sure we’re diverse, we include everyone. So I’ll say something I missed as a student was a student association, because I didn’t know it existed. If I knew, I feel like my college life would have been better, because I could have enjoyed the privileges, I could have used it, I could have used the insurance, I could have used the many things that we give. I could have participated to the events, to the activities organized every time. So I was that kind of student who used to go from school after my class or go back home. But now I’m always advocating to say, stay, stay, check, check our IG, check. You know, we have things planned for you. We have gifts. We give a lot of gifts to students. We have students who can’t afford groceries. We have a food bank. So I’ll say we manage the student’s life. So this is how I can explain it in easy words.

Sam Demma
One of the things I know you’re passionate about being an international student yourself is ensuring that every student on campus feels like they have a community, feels like they’re a part of the community, that they belong, that they’re taken care of. Tell me a little bit about your passion for ensuring international students also feel welcomed and supported through their university and college experience.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
So I feel like the way I can explain it, I’ll say international students, they arrive in Canada and they arrive as, it’s their first year, first winter, first everything, right, mostly. And the person that they go to look for help is gonna be other people from the same country. You know, I’ll go look for another Burundian to ask him questions. But the other Burundian asked another Burundian. And we stay in Canada, but we stay in Burundi. Gotcha. So we keep the mentality from Burundi. And you never get to experience the Canada’s, what Canada gives, at the gifts, you know, or you don’t, you know, they don’t learn how to, how to use their credit cards. They don’t learn how to get a good job, how to have a, you know, so I feel like this is where they get stuck. Because they come here, they don’t have a family. So they go find families in their friends and their friends, which is good, though, but their friends are bringing them like them. So they’ll go to school and go back home. So go back home to their friends. So what I always trying to do is always do activities that are Canadian, like more of that shows you the Canadian culture. Like, let me say like last this month, we did a buffet and the buffet was really like, was a Canadian, the Canadian culture. The Canadian culture one, we were giving turkeys, things like that.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
So, and I wanted the international student to know what is the Christmas of Canadians? What is, what do they do during this time? You know, I know sometimes that it doesn’t align with their cultures and religion, which is good, which we respect. But if it aligns, you should try it. In gen, I’m planning to take students to ski, to do some hikes, to things like that. So yeah, so I always, when I’m organizing events, I always go to look for the international department. And I’m like, yo, I’m not asking any of your budgets, but I’m asking that you promote these activities because I want international students to participate. Because we’re two different departments, international department and our department is two different. They have their own it’s, it goes back to, they try to align to their culture, right? But, so what I always fight for is them to know, them to learn, and be, have friends, Canadian friends, to be open, to be open to have, at some point, I’d say, when I was in college, I didn’t have, I had friends but mostly was friends from Ivory Coast because I’m trying to find people like me, I’m trying to find people who think like me but once you participate in those activities you will meet other people. They will explain to you, you go to watch a hockey game, you don’t know anything about it, you have another friend sitting, another colleague, classmate sitting next to you. He’s a Canadian. He will explain everything to you and you’ll like the sport. I didn’t watch, I watched the first game of hockey. I was so confused. I was like, why, why everybody’s going out, who’s left with two people? Why is there many things, many? But if you have a friend, you should go there with a team, with a group. You, you, you, you learn and you make friends and maybe you like the sports, you know. So this is something I always advocate for. I’m so, so close to the international department because of that, because they understood it and now we’re really working together. it’s been a good thing to the students because last month we had the hockey tournament or organized by our team, our hockey team. And we had many schools coming and I was asked to find volunteers to work on that tournament. I was like, why not look for international students to volunteer?

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
So I went to the international department and they sent like a big team of international students to work there. They arrived early in the morning, they taught them how to use the timer, how to see foes, things like that. And at the end of the day, they liked the game. They’re like, you see, you came, you didn’t know anything about hockey, but you were controlling the game. You were putting the points out, you know, things like that. So, and it’s a good experience. They liked it, and this is something that gives me joy, because I’m like, didn’t get that chance, but let me try to give it to international students, yeah.

Sam Demma
I think that’s what most educators aspire to do when they get a similar job in education. It’s to make a life of a human being better, to provide them with a unique experience that they know will enhance their lives or that they didn’t have in the past, so they want to give it to others. It sounds like collaboration is a big part of your strategy, not competing with other departments, but collaborating, ensuring that everyone works together to provide the best possible experience to students. In your experience, how do you effectively build relationships with students on campus so that they trust you and they come to you and they have questions and they want to ask you things? How do you build that relationship?

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
First of all, I’ll say it’s easy for them because they think I’m a student. I had friends, student friends, realizing one month after, two months after that, I’m a staff, I’m a full-time staff. I’m like, oh, for real, you graduated?

Sam Demma
That’s awesome.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
And I’m like, you didn’t know? You think the whole time that I spent at school is because I’m a good student? So, yeah, so first of all, that’s the first thing is they relate. They relate. They feel like we’re in the same group of age. And the second thing, I feel like I don’t… What would I say? Yeah, I make them my friends. I make them my friends. I try to listen when I can, because sometimes it’s hard to deal with students. Sometimes they don’t wanna listen. But, and I feel like I have this way of approaching people with, I don’t know, I had a student who came to our office was so, so, so pissed off. This is an example I’m gonna give you. So pissed off, he was from another campus and he came and he was loud telling everyone in our department how we’re not helping the other campus, things like that. And then I arrived, I saw him, he was a guy like around my age. I was like, so because I saw the other staff, because they’re more older, they were trying to calm him down and I took him outside and I’m like, oh bro, let’s go and talk. So I talked to him like another friend, like I was like, don’t think I’m one of them, like I’m, you know, okay, what’s your problem? You know, you don’t have to say it like that because, you know, people listen when you come, you know, people, this is how people gonna like you because if they want to help you, they have to like you first, you know, they have to like the way you approach them. So yeah, and he came and we talked, like we talked and after it’s where he realized, oh, oh, you’re one of them too. You know, like you work with them, but I gave him his answers, but he didn’t realize that because I didn’t come with the approach of being, I’m not gonna say, I’m not gonna use this word, I was gonna say being too polite, you know how teachers talk to students, like, oh, calm down. I came like a friend, I came like, yo, bro, let’s go and talk outside, you know. And it really helped him, it really, we answered his questions and it really helped me too to engage with him. So I feel like, I don’t know how to name it, but I’m more, I’m easy to talk to because you would feel like I’m approachable.

Sam Demma
I was going to say the word that comes to mind for me is authentic. You are the same, whether you’re talking to your friends or you’re talking to a student, it’s just Mac. People probably resonate with that because there’s no different version of you. This is what you get. And I’m sure students appreciate that because maybe in certain scenarios, they feel like they’re being talked down to, or they feel like the person talking to them is exercising their superiority or the fact that they’re in a position of power, whereas you approach it just like a human. Hey man, let’s go talk. So it sounds like collaboration, authenticity are two of the big things you’ve kind of shared and talked about so far. I’m curious, in the 2024 school year with event programming, what are some of the experiences that you and the team are working on that you’re really excited about providing to students on campus? And if there isn’t one in the future that you’re excited about, maybe you can reflect on one that happened in 2023 that you’re really proud of? 

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
Yeah, I’ll say I’m part of one event we did last year. It was during the Black History Month. It was called a multicultural show. Nice. Where we had many artists from all over different cultures. Like we had even Burundian drummers, of course, I have to represent.

Sam Demma

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
But we had, like, we had a, it was a good show. It was a really beautiful and gave us, gave us good points. Like I would say, students liked it. Like, it helped us recruiting other students because they were like, oh, this is what they do at La Cite. So it was a good event. And I’m planning to redo it this year. And this year we’re trying to do it in two separate forms. We’re trying to have a panel inviting businessmen, black businessmen, politicians to come and have a panel discussion with students. They’ll be asking questions. That will be the first event. The second event will be the multicultural show again. So, which is good, which I’m excited to see again. But the second one that I’m really, really working on and I’m trying to put all my efforts in it because I feel like I’m ready for next year. But when it comes, I always like new challenges. I always like new events that I’ve never done. But the event that I’m planning, but I’ve done it last year, but in a small way. I did it, it wasn’t a big event. It’s called Cité Talon, it’s a talent show. It’s a, yeah, a big talent show. I’m planning to organize a big talent show this year. I want, my goal organizing this is for students, for the winner, who wins Cité Talon, I want him to feel like he’s a talented person. He can use that, he can put it in his CV and say, I won at La Cité among us many students. So, always work on how big is the event, how did you organize this? Because last year we did it, but it wasn’t that big. The prize the student would win last year he would win $300 and go to and have a trip to Peterborough to participate in other talent shows between schools. So this year I want I want hours to be big, hours to be… I want many students to participate. I want to be ready in advance. And yeah, I’m still figuring you out, thinking what kind of prices would we give, you know, what kind of things we would give the student to feel like it’s another value to his talent. He would, you know, I’m gonna use you as an example, right?

Sam Demma

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
For example, like when we’re presenting Sam Demma, we can say Sam Demma has been on TV, Sam Demma has been on TED Talk. So these are things that adds value to your name. So things like that. So I want students to mention, oh, I’ve won La Cité talent show. So this is what I’m working on. And I hope it’s gonna be good. I hope the budget is going to match. I hope everything is going to be good. But yeah, I’m so excited for the event. Yeah.

Sam Demma
It sounds awesome. I think it would give so many students an opportunity to shine their light. There’s probably so many young people on campus who have passions, who have interests that nobody else knows about because they don’t have an opportunity to share it. And this talent show is going to give them an opportunity to showcase that talent in front of everybody and be recognized for it, which is really cool, especially for international students that may have a barrier to connect with people. But an activity, a talent is universal. You don’t have to speak the language to share, share your light or showcase a talent. So I’m excited to see it come together. La Cité’s got talent, you know, it’s kind of like Canada’s got talent.

Sam Demma
Well, it’s really great to hear about some of the things you have planned for the new year and the event that went well last year. If you need some connections to some business people to sit on your panel, I happen to know a few that I think would match what you’re looking for and that could do a really great job for you. So reach out to me after this conversation is done. But tell me to wrap this up, if you could go back in time to when you were just starting your position at La Cité, when you didn’t know anything about the role, you’re overwhelmed, stressed out, maybe even a little bit anxious, if you could go back in time and speak to that version of yourself, but knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself? What advice would you give?

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
I’ll give him first, a word of encouragement. I’ll be like, the Reds, it’s a good experience. It’s something you don’t wanna miss, you know, because I feel like, 100% events are so hard to do. So complicated that demands a lot of details, small, small details. You forget one, you’re done. You forget one, you lose a lot of money. But yeah, I’ll say, I’d say to Mark, to be more organized, to be more organized, plan these things ahead. To know that as the more you’re organized, the more you have space to plan for others, the more you see what’s missing. And then I feel like this is the thing I didn’t know, I didn’t have in me, is the organization, organize my documents, keep my things together, write everything down, give myself tasks and due dates, you know, things like that. That would have helped me a lot when I started, but, you know, I had to learn it through experience and I feel like I’m still learning, but it’s a good thing. So, but one is be ready, you enjoy. To this day I’ve never went to work not happy. I’m a believer so I always thank God for having gave me this job because I like it and then I’m willing to continue doing it. So yeah, so I would say I would out there.

Sam Demma
Mac, thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate hearing your reflections. I appreciate your time, your energy, your passion for the work that you do. Keep up the amazing work. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, all the best in 2024. And I hope that our paths cross again sometime soon.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
Thank you very much, Sam. Yeah, happy holidays to you and your family. Wish you, I already texted you what I wish you for 2024, but I said it again, I wish you more success, man, and I’m so proud to be your friend, because I’m, you know, it’s a flex. It’s a flex.

Sam Demma
Appreciate you, brother, thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks.

Mac Fred Mbonimpa
Thank you.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Mac Fred Mbonimpa

The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.

Maddie Campbell – Canadian Student Leadership Association Operations Coordinator

Maddie Campbell - Canadian Student Leadership Association Operations Coordinator
About Maddie Campbell

Maddie Campbell (@maddiecamps) is a life-long student leader and learner who found a way to turn her love of activities, organizing and community impact into a career. Born and raised in the Waterloo Region, Maddie has been connected to her community from day one, particularly through sports and various charitable organizations. Choosing to stay close to her community, Maddie attended the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Sport Business (2019). Along her student leadership journey, Maddie has served as a Co-Prime Minister at her high school, V.P. of Internal Affairs for the University of Waterloo’s Applied Health Sciences Undergraduate Members (AHSUM), Logistics Coordinator for Applied Health Sciences Orientation Week and various event coordinating roles in between.

Maddie is the current Operations Coordinator for the Canadian Student Leadership Association, a national not-for-profit organization that provides leadership resources, programs and opportunities for youth leaders across Canada, including the Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC). Before joining CSLA as a staff member, Maddie was a member of the organizing committee for the 2017 Canadian Student Leadership Conference hosted in Waterloo. As the only full-time staff person for CSLA, Maddie’s journey has come full circle as she attended CSLC 2013 (Montague, PEI) as a student leader and representative for her school.

Maddie can be described as someone who always has a smile on their face, a coffee in hand and her fanny pack nearby. In her spare time, you’ll likely find Maddie at a hockey arena cheering on her favourite team or on the bench as a minor hockey trainer.

Connect with Maddie: Email | Instagram | Twitter

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

Canadian Student Leadership Association (CSLA)

Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC)

Flush Away Cancer Fundraiser

Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School

University of Waterloo’s Applied Health Sciences Undergraduate Members (AHSUM)

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. In today’s episode, we are showcasing another high-performing educator, Maddie Campbell. She is a graduate of the university of Waterloo. She studied recreation and sport business, and she currently works with the Canadian student leadership association. She has a huge passion for events, sports, student leadership, and community impact, which is all so evident from today’s episode. She is skilled in sponsorship, communications, planning, event planning, community outreach and event management. And in today’s episode, we talk about the teachers and educators in her life that impacted her what it means to be a leader and how you as a teacher can apply those same lessons to your own students. This is a huge pleasure and honor to have interviewed Maddie. She is doing amazing work with Dave and everyone from the Canadian Student Leadership Association. And I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it. I’ll see you on the other side, Maddie. Welcome to the high performing educators podcast. I’m super excited to have you here. We’ve met a couple times in person and virtually, and it’s great to have you.

Maddie Campbell (01:14):
Thank you so much for having me

Sam Demma (01:16):
Do me a quick favor. I can definitely intro you, but I would love for you to explain to our audience who you are, what you do and what got you started with the work that you do with youth.

Maddie Campbell (01:28):
Well, so my name is Maddie Campbell and I am a recent university grad. But before then I was a lifelong student leader. I am the operations coordinator for the Canadian student leadership association, which is a fancy word for saying, I have a lot of hats and they do a lot of things. So everything from our programming to some more day-to-day things trying to come up with new ideas on social media. I am often behind the scenes on a lot of those things, how I got started in my role and in student leadership, like I said, I’m a lifelong student leader when I was in high school. I’m from Waterloo, Ontario and went to Sir John A McDonald secondary school. I joined our Confederation program at the end of my grade 10 year. So going into grade 11, took our leadership class and then ran for co prime minister and became co prime minister of my school in grade 12.

Maddie Campbell (02:24):
And from there, I had the opportunity to go to the CSLC, which is the Canadian student leadership conference, which is our main event per CSLA. So that’s really where it started. And then as I got through university, it was found found it difficult to find my place in school. And in extracurriculars, there are people who are lifelong athletes and artists and all that kind of stuff. And I was interested in a lot of it, but I wasn’t a professional. But student leadership always felt like home and event planning and community building. And I grew in a house like that. And so started to volunteer a little bit more and got lucky enough that CSLC was going to be hosted at my high school S jam in 2017. So two years before that, I said, Hey, like I want to volunteer. I want to do something. It actually turned into a co-op job for me for over a year. And then after that CSLA was looking for some help and they said, Hey, what are you doing? And we started working from there and it turned into a full-time job when I graduated the university. So that’s what got me here. It’s just a whole lot of leadership events stacked together. But got me, my, my job in student leadership.

Sam Demma (03:40):
That’s amazing. I’m curious to know when you were back in high school and this isn’t too, too long ago for you, maybe for Dave Conklin or someone else, it was, but you can, you can think back when you were in high school, did you have some teachers or educators in your life that made a huge impact on you? Like literally when I asked this question, what names pop in your mind? And I’m curious to know what it was that those educators or teachers did for you that made all the difference.

Maddie Campbell (04:06):
So there’s Def there’s a few there’s three. The first I would say is Sandy Miller. So he’s now a vice principal in the school board, but he was my leadership teacher in grade 12. And I learned so much from him and I can’t even describe all of the things. But he is a huge mentor for me. He believed in what I could do as a student leader. And then further beyond when I was out of high school and what I loved about Sandy and the way he taught us was he treated us like adults. There was never an opportunity for you to kind of like hide behind a bigger person or a bigger leader. He always saw the potential in everyone. And he would, if you were sitting behind the scenes, he’d say go do something. And he would get people moving and motivated.

Maddie Campbell (04:54):
And he always saw the bigger picture of what we could be and what we could do. So Sandy, for sure. He is someone who I still connect with regularly about my job and what I’m doing and leadership and what he’s doing. And I think he misses the leadership teaching side of things as an administrator, my other leadership teacher in high school Greg Todd unreal. He came over to our school the same time that I started in the leadership program. So he actually joined our leadership retreat where as at the integrates Penn, he was coming in to teach for grade 11 and no one had met him yet. So he was like the new kid in town. I was sort of starting leadership late. A lot of grade tens will take it in grade 11 and I was in 11 taking it in 11.

Maddie Campbell (05:41):
And so we met at this retreat and we really connected and then I ended up being in his class. So just kind of my leadership base. And then I had a really awesome coach in high school. Her name is Lori Montgomery, and she is the most energetic person you’ll ever meet. She’s a kick-butt coach. And by that, I mean she rocks Angela also kick your butt to make you do what you need to do. And she was just an excellent leader on and off the field. She made sure that people were paying attention at all times. And that it wasn’t just about where you watching the game. It was where you watching the skill. Were you watching the practice? Were you listening to everything and doing those next steps? So all of those people, I still talk to pretty regularly especially when I can go into visit at the school. But those are three teachers who really impacted me in high school.

Sam Demma (06:36):
That’s amazing and very diverse. We have a coach and then two leadership teachers. And you, you remembered their names as if you hadn’t forgotten for the moment, which is phenomenal for me, there’s a teacher named Mike loud foot. That just sticks in my mind. Whenever someone asks me the same question. And if there’s anything you took from the way they taught you and you try and embody it in your own teaching and your own work with youth today, what would like one thing be?

Maddie Campbell (07:04):
I think all three of them just had this characteristic of never being afraid. So never be afraid to take that next step or to try something. Oftentimes when I think of those people, I think of just go do it and ask for forgiveness later. Don’t if it’s something that you aren’t sure, but it needs to get done, go do it make, make the right choice. Like they had the faith in us as students to do the right thing which was huge. And then we then were able to have that faith in ourselves that we knew how to make those big decisions. So if I could say anything and trust your gut and just go do it. And that was how they led us. And I think it’s a huge part of my leadership now.

Sam Demma (07:50):
That’s so awesome. The reason I ask is because so many educators right now are afraid and burnt out and not sure what to do and what’s going on. There’s so many challenges being presented to everyone in education, including yourself and everyone from CSLA because of COVID-19. What are some things that you think an educator should be focused on right now? To overcome these challenges?

Maddie Campbell (08:14):
It’s so different. Like today, as we’ve talked, like I should be at CSLC right now, which is our national conference was supposed to start today. We be getting ready for our opening ceremonies. And I think that if anything, I just hope that teachers can remember that this isn’t forever. It seems like it. I, I get that. I feel like we’ve been in this for so long and now it just looks longer and longer. But the bottom line is your kids are still your kids and your students are still the people that they would have been this year, but how do we adjust for them? They still have that spirit. They still have that hunger to learn about leadership and about everything else going on in their school. And yeah, the world has changed, but they’re seeing that too. It’s not just you experiencing that change, it’s your students. So how can you change together? How can you have a conversation about what works for you and them and what are, what are their goals? What were their goals before COVID in their school situation? How do you make those happen? Because I bet you, there’s a way it’s going to be a lot different and a lot of outside the box thinking, but there’s a way and we’re getting there.

Sam Demma (09:28):
That’s awesome. And you mentioned CSLC, I was watching the video on the front page of your new website, the recap promo video. I think it’s from a few years ago, got me super pumped up. Those conferences, change lives, change students’ lives. The speakers come, they change students’ lives. Can you share with us a story of a student who might’ve been directly impacted by something you did or something someone did at a conference and you got to witness it firsthand. And for privacy sake, you don’t have to share the name of the student, or you can just change it. But I’m really curious to know. I think it’s those stories when we tell them from a place of just vulnerability and honesty, that it really inspires educators to remember why they do what they do and to remind them why it’s so important.

Maddie Campbell (10:14):
So I actually talked to a student yesterday for a totally separate project. And I said, I think you went to CSLC and my mistake. And she’s like, Nope, I was there. I’m actually from like where CSLC was happening. So it was close by, but instead of being a delegate, I got asked to be like a, a spirit leader. And so she was very hesitant about that. Would it change her experience, which you still get the same thing out of it? And since then CSLC has just propelled her to think outside the box and do so many more things. So starting her own initiatives for her community applying for individual grants to support projects in her community, she just had this, a list of things she’s like, oh, can I tell you about this? And then we would keep talking to them, oh, I forgot about this.

Maddie Campbell (11:04):
I got to tell you this. And so to see less than a year’s impact on a student who is now in grade 11 and still has two more years of high school left, that’s huge for them to already be doing all these things, being so passionate about them. And that started at CSLC was the first experience that that student had. And since then they’ve looked for other opportunities and how they can grow and make an impact. And I think that was really reflective of the message that students got at CSLC last year, but at every year

Sam Demma (11:39):
That’s amazing and a big part of the celebrations and the conferences are the speakers you bring in. I’m sure you’ve sat in on dozens upon dozens upon dozens, upon dozens of speeches by speakers. I’m curious to know there’s educators listening who want to bring more inspirational messages into their school. How do they choose someone that’s a good fit? What do you think some of the most important attributes or characteristics of a good presenter and speaker?

Maddie Campbell (12:05):
I think you definitely need to know your student audience to start. So what are your students looking for or what point in their leadership journey are your students at? Are they your first time students who you’re at your first leadership retreat or your first meeting, and you’re trying to get them bought into this whole concept of leadership, or are they a grade 11 or 12 student who’s now moving further into their education career or they’re moving into a job or whatever it takes them on their path after high school, how do you prepare them for that next stage in life? And so I think knowing what your students need is important to get back from a speaker, we are so lucky that the students that we get to work with and the Canadian speakers that we work with, they mesh so easily on so many different levels. I think that when we bring Canadian stories to Canadian students, there’s a real connect there. It’s so relatable. All of our speakers have been in these students’ shoes. And I think that also is a really big benefit. So bringing someone who even is from your province or territory, who kind of knows the ground, knows the area to work with your students, I think is really cool. If you can have that relatability.

Sam Demma (13:23):
That’s awesome. That’s really cool. And is there any speaker who you’ve seen at various conferences that sticks out to you as like, wow, that was amazing. Maybe someone you saw in the past at CSLC or who is someone who you kind of really resonated with and why?

Maddie Campbell (13:37):
So the first, not the first, one of the first speakers I ever saw as a student with Ian Tyson and Ian came to our leadership retreat when I was in, at the end of my grade 10 year and I was just blown away. I was like, oh my gosh, like, yeah, I need that energy all the time. Like that was just great. And like I said, he’s Canadian speaker. He could connect with our group of students because he knew exactly what our leadership program was built on and what we were trying to do. And I had seen speakers from the states or, or elsewhere in the world before that. And it just didn’t have the same impact, you know, that they’re telling a story, but you also know that the school culture and climate is so much different in America than it, than it can be in Canada and specifically Ontario. So Ian was someone who stood out to me and then in my grade, 12 year, he presented at CSLC. And so I signed up for that workshop and that was like, hi, I saw you like here. And then and now we kind of get to work together on different projects. So it’s come full circle for me. But Ian is for sure a standard speaker for me and, and my path in leadership, but I think for a lot of students

Sam Demma (14:48):
Yeah, that’s amazing. And you mentioned earlier that, you know, you ever first a attendee of these conferences and now you’re working for the company, which is awesome. And a lot of your work is putting on multiple hats, doing tons of different jobs. I’m curious to know with all the different ideas you’re posting on the blog and sharing on social media, what ideas about increasing virtual engagement or increasing student engagement right now have piqued your interest or you think are worth sharing with other educators?

Maddie Campbell (15:18):
I think for the most part, what we’re trying to do, and it’s, it’s nothing precise, but I think we’re trying to throw a lot of mud at the wall and see what sticks and go from there. It’s such a different year for us. Like I said, we’re supposed to be at CSLC right now. And I would say over 50% of my portfolio is running in-person events. And so now to transition that to, okay, how do we just share these ideas so that students have that resource to do more in their school? It’s a huge challenge. So we are working with teachers who we’ve worked with for years and years and saying, Hey, like, have you tried this in your classroom? Or are you thinking about trying this in your classroom? If so, can you write it up for us, send us a picture and we’ll put it on the blog.

Maddie Campbell (16:02):
If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But we were so lucky, especially having Dave who has been doing this for so, so long, he went back into the archives of newsletters and he pulled activities and ideas and events, and he has in his own headset. Okay. Like, how do we make this work for COVID? How do we make it work for virtual? How do we make it work at a distance? So that from the blog perspective, we’re just, we’re just throwing everything up that we can find. And hopefully it’ll benefit someone from a social media standpoint. We have pretty curated schedule. We try and mix in some light stuff with some heavier stuff. In terms of we do like a wisdom Wednesday. So we work Brad Dixon, who is our social media person. He’s a teacher in Calgary.

Maddie Campbell (16:53):
He will find an article in a picture to go with it and he’ll share it and say like, this is great. Here’s some key points read this article might you might learn something you might not. But then we also share like motivational quotes. We repost things that other schools are doing. So kind of like the blog, but on a social media point, if something happened across Canada this week, we’ll go find it. And on Friday we’ll repost it. I think those get a pretty good uptake. And then we’re also taking words, ideas from students. So if students are connecting with us saying, Hey, like we’re running this in our school, can you share it? Absolutely. if students have their own initiatives that they’re running like that student, I was talking about, who I actually spoke to yesterday, they DMD us on Instagram and told us all about their new initiative. And I said, yep, like, that’s great. We’re here to promote what students are doing. Especially students who are taking the initiative to reach out and say, oh my gosh, I’m doing something so awesome. Please share it. And we have that platform to get it all across Canada.

Sam Demma (17:58):
That’s awesome. Yeah. I love that. And Dave was telling me about some ideas on a previous episode in relation to shoe boxes and the shoe box parade. I don’t know if you heard about that one. He was telling me some really interesting out there ideas that I thought were really cool, but if any ideas stuck out in your mind, I’d love to hear them. I don’t know if you have one that pops to mind.

Maddie Campbell (18:21):
The, one of my favorite ideas that we featured in a newsletter, I want to say three years ago. I believe it was out of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, and they did this fundraiser where they went to their local dump and they picked up old toilets and they repainted them and then they would just drop them on people’s front lawns. And so this campaign was called flush away cancer, and you had to pay money, donate money to their campaign, to get the toilet taken off your lawn. So you could pay $50 to get it taken off and then, or you could pay a hundred dollars and then go put it on someone else’s lawn. And I think when I think about that, and I think about what’s happening now kind of weird, but it would totally work in a pandemic situation. You’re outside, you’re far away. You don’t really have to be near someone or sick closer than six feet away from someone you can handle your donations online. But that was one of the first activities I, I remember reading about in our newsletter when I got more involved in the association and it just stuck. I thought it was so funny and so impactful. And they raised a lot of money when they did it.

Sam Demma (19:34):
That’s a brilliant idea. No, no idea is a bad idea also is can lead to amazing things. I think that’s a general theme. Whenever I asked that question with these interviews a more internal question for yourself, what keeps you motivated? Things are difficult. They’re different right now. Like you said, a lot of your portfolio is about in-person events. The first couple of weeks back in March, the week of March 13th, you were probably in need of a toilet, you know, like, like, oh my God, what am I supposed to do here? And everyone’s just going crazy. You fill in the blank and I’m curious to know what keeps you going? Is there an impact that you have that you’ve seen that you had on other people that just reminds you why you do what you do? A lot of educators and people who work in education might be burnt out right now?

Maddie Campbell (20:23):
I definitely feel the burnout every once in a while when it comes to programming in a normal year. So like after a CSLC, I’m like Kim I’m done for, for four or five days and by day five, I normally get a cold. And then I’m really down and out. So this has been different in terms of being at home and not seeing a lot of people as I, it is for everybody. What keeps motivated is how much freedom I have in my role. So yes, there are things that need to get done every day or every week. Yes, we have priorities for the year. We have to figure out what programs are replacing. CSLC how we’re going to make horizon leadership conferences happen this year. We pivoted in COVID pretty quickly to develop an online program, but in between all that, I also have the ability to say, Hey, let’s try this, or let’s do this.

Maddie Campbell (21:16):
The, the fact that I have that space to be creative in my role is what keeps me motivated because I’ll have a day where a light bulb will go off and I’ll text Dave frantically and say, Hey, like, what about this? Like, can we try this? What do you think about this? And he’ll, he’ll just fill me and he’d be like, oh, the light bulbs are on, like, the gears are turning today. And I’m like, yes. And so those moments, those light bulb moments, keep me going in what we’re doing. And then when we can come full circle and maybe the light bulbs actually been screwed in somewhere, that’s what makes it worth it. So when I go back in my notes and I’m, I’m preparing for a meeting right now, and I went through the agenda of our meeting in may. So this is two months after things really kind of went to a halt. And just our notes on talking about the development of our student leadership certification program. We basically presented a bare bones idea in may. And we said, level one of this four level program, we have a draft ready, but it was not ready yet. And today we have all four levels ready and done and out to the world and over a hundred students enrolled in the program. So to see stuff comes full circle, like that is what keeps me going.

Sam Demma (22:32):
That’s awesome. That’s so cool. And if any educator is listening right now and they just want to reach out, have a conversation, bounce, some ideas around where can they reach out to you, Maddie?

Maddie Campbell (22:44):
The easiest way to get ahold of me is my email which is mcampbell@studentleadership.ca. But you can also reach out to us through our Instagram page, which is @canadianstudentleaders. There’s a few of us who are monitoring that, but for the most part, I think I’m the one who answers the messages on a regular basis. It’s kind of my responsibility because we have a teacher who’s in that role as well. So while they’re busy teaching, I can take the wheel on the social media side of things. So if you send us a message on there, we’ll definitely get connected and figure out the best way to have a chat from there.

Sam Demma (23:23):
Awesome. Matt, it’s been a huge pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educators show.

Maddie Campbell (23:28):
Appreciated. Thank you for having me

Sam Demma (23:31):
There. You have it, the full interview with Maddie Campbell. I hope you enjoyed it and took some notes. There was so much to take away from this amazing interview. Maddie had so much to offer and as always, if you are an educator who was enjoying these interviews and you personally have something to share with your fellow colleagues and other educators, please shoot me an email at info@samdemma.com so we can get your insights and ideas on the podcast for everyone to hear and use. And if you know somebody who might be a good fit as a guest, please also email me and nominate them to come on the show because we’re always looking for more amazing educators to talk to. Anyways, I’ll see you on the next episode. Talk soon.

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The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.