Elise Pundyk (BFA Art ’20) has been named one of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 Under 30 for her continuing role in decreasing barriers to quality education, work that began during her time as a student at the University of Lethbridge.

Pundyk was one of the founding members of uLethbridge’s World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program student club, working to increase access to education through resettlement of students from refugee contexts. In 2020, she was selected to be a member of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth’s Migration Youth Forum, serving on the Migration Group task force. With this group, she coordinated a youth forum that gathered 86 youth representing 55 countries to negotiate youth priorities, which they presented at the Global Forum on Migration and Development.

Members of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) uLethbridge student club (2019)

Pundyk’s drive and passion to support humanitarian causes was ignited at uLethbridge after learning about WUSC from art professor Dr. Anne Dymond.

“I came to uLethbridge after hearing about the magnitude of its art collection and the potential of being able to develop and learn in its proximity. Little did I know that I would meet a professor in the art history and museum studies department that would have such a profound impact on my life beyond the classroom setting.”

Dymond and Pundyk shared in the belief that uLethbridge has an incredible opportunity to join the effort to increase access to post-secondary education during a global migration crisis. Since their first conversation, the WUSC Local Committee has sponsored three students through the Student Refugee Program (SRP) and secured funding through a referendum to ensure the program proceeds in perpetuity.

“Dr. Dymond encouraged the leader in me and her belief in my abilities has empowered me to challenge myself to do things way out of my comfort zone,” says Pundyk. “With her guidance and support, the WUSC committee achieved so many goals and became a place where all students involved continue to evolve as leaders. Dr. Dymond is the ultimate role model in making the community around her a better place and I am so grateful for her mentorship as I continue on to my next chapter.”

Named Top 30 under 30 less than a year after graduation, Pundyk’s ‘next chapter’ is off to a bright, and impactful, start.

“My hope for the future is to develop from what I have learned through WUSC to work in international development, particularly in increasing opportunities for youth,” says Pundyk. “Through my experience with uLethbridge, I have come to highly value the power of youth. I hope to continue to shine a light on the youth voices and youth-led actions that lead the way in creating some of the most innovative solutions to global issues we face.”

The Top 30 Under 30 Award is an annual campaign by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. The award features 30 outstanding young people, nominated by their community and selected by a committee of peers, for their commendable work in making the world a more just, fair, and sustainable place for all.

“My happiest memory as a student has to be the night our referendum passed in favour of the World University Service of Canada’s uLethbridge Local Committee and the Student Refugee Program. I remember the surge of pride and achievement I felt as we all sat in the Zoo, listening to the Students’ Union announce the result. It was a feeling of gratitude for our university community, who embraced the cause and agreed to sponsor students each year. This decision had an impact that would have so much meaning to the lives of students empowered through education, as well as to the vibrancy of the uLethbridge community as a whole. It is a moment I will never forget.”

Current students interested in getting involved in the WUSC student club can find out more through the uLethbridge Student Union.