Finding My Place

By Rose Leishman, student

Student Open Circles (SOC) has been an integral component to my university experience and impacted me in multiple ways. It provides an incredible community space. Coming to McMaster in 2019 was, as it is for many new students, a time of intense change; however, I also found it to be very isolating. Coming from Vancouver, I did not know anyone at the school. This was in stark contrast to my experience back home where I was a part of multiple communities and had a secure sense of belonging. Looking back now, I think this rapid adjustment from having community to not having one is what made me realize how much I value that sense of belonging and feeling connected and is why I initially joined an SOC volunteer group.

During my first year, SOC was one of the first places that I found a sense of community, and this has grown as I have continued volunteering. As a volunteer, SOC connects me with the Hamilton community and a student community that encourages thoughtful reflection, development, and positive growth. Looking back at my time with SOC, I have noticed a substantial change in myself. I was given the opportunity to develop my abilities and confidence as a leader. Through the reflection activities and leadership training meetings, I was able to engage in more thoughtful interactions and explore my own creativity. These changes would not have been possible without the support of those who make up the SOC community. SOC has connected me with a multitude of unique and wonderful people who have all taught me something new. Each semester I am excited to get my volunteer placement as it means I get to meet a bunch of new people and get to know them over multiple months. However, the volunteer placements are just one way that SOC has helped me connect with more people. There are also the bi-weekly leadership training meetings and the mentor pairings that have been instrumental in creating a sense of belonging.

For me being a part of Student Open Circles means that I will always have a group of people to support me and I know that I will always support them. Thinking back to where I was when I first arrived in Hamilton and where I am now, SOC has significantly shaped my university experience!