Before taking an introductory political science course, Sean Waddingham was torn between a future in music or politics. But that course was all it took to hook him — though he still finds time to keep playing and appreciating music.
Waddingham earned his Bachelor of Arts Honours majoring in political science, and along the way, became president of the Students' Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) and is a member of the Alumni Advisory Council (AAC).
Q.How are your goals as SAMU president connected to your work on the AAC?
My main goals include increasing student participation and awareness around SAMU governance processes, especially elections, as well as pushing for student affordability and bringing home the message that young people today are faced with an increasingly difficult and uncertain economic situation.
Awareness is a common thread of my work as SAMU president and the work of the AAC – one of the most important things for a students’ association and a university’s alumni development work is to keep your target audience engaged. Alumni must care about their alma mater in order to support it, just like students have to pay attention and be supportive of SAMU for it to function best.
Q.How did you first get involved with student government?
It came as a bit of a surprise, honestly, and came down to two things. First, I became the director-general of the MacEwan UN Club and really started to enjoy the leadership aspects of that role. Second, some friends who I respected a lot were in SAMU Executive Committee positions, and I became more aware of the kind of work they were doing. I would probably attribute my final decision to run for vice-president and then president of SAMU to my friends in student leadership, who allowed me to appreciate the role of SAMU and its elected students.
Q.What's been the most fulfilling moment you've had in the MacEwan UN Club?
Our goal was to help the students we met in Ukraine enter into international Model UN competitions, particularly National Model UN New York (NMUN NY), which MacEwan sends delegates to each year. Not only was it gratifying to see the Ukrainian delegation win an honourable mention in NMUN Germany shortly after our visit, but it was also amazing to meet students who are so dedicated to their studies at a time when their country is at war, among other difficulties they face. The students we met there were brilliant and taught me many things, including truly appreciating the reality of the high stakes associated with politics.
Q.Why is it important for you to help to give alumni a voice?
We are at a critical, early stage of alumni development at MacEwan, and I’m happy to be part of that. One thing I can bring to the table is a steadfast perspective on why MacEwan is, in my view, better than many other post-secondary institutions. I think there’s a large gap between how great MacEwan’s student experience is and how loud MacEwan is about that high level of quality.
I want to highlight ways in which MacEwan excels so that we can emphasize those as an institution, and work that into our alumni culture. It seems to me that in many professional settings, it is often the case that every comment made is critical – I believe that in this forum, we should also constructively focus on not only what we can criticize and change about MacEwan, but also what aspects of the MacEwan experience should be championed and protected.
New Alumni Advisory Council represents MacEwan University's 75,000 graduates
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