During her time at the University of Lethbridge Elise Pundyk (BFA - Art '20) was involved in the creation of the World University Service of Canada uLethbridge student group, helping to raise funds and put together the supports needed to bring student refugees to campus. She is now involved with the United Nation’s Major Group for Children and Youth on a Task Force putting together the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?
There are so many incredible experiences at uLethbridge that I will always cherish, including the celebrations at exhibition openings with the museum studies curatorial groups, working in the University of Lethbridge’s Art Gallery’s Vault as an intern, and in-class field trips to the many sculpture or gallery displays around campus.
My happiest memory at uLethbridge has to be the night our referendum passed in favour of the World University Service of Canada’s uLeth Local Committee (WUSC) and the Student Refugee Program (SRP). This campaign highlighted the incredible talents of our WUSC Local Committee. Students designed campaign materials, gained public speaking skills as we rallied from classroom to classroom, and learned how to lean on each other when times got challenging. 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.
Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your time at uLethbridge?
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 even beyond the classroom setting. I took my first class with Dr. Anne Dymond in my first year of university. I quickly came to learn how supportive she was as a professor and how she cared so much about creating opportunities for her students. It was with Dr. Dymond that I first connected with the other students in the art department as we worked to curate department exhibitions under her leadership. The experiences she presented to her students instilled a greater confidence in me to connect further with the university community. 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.
What is the most important lesson you learned?
The most important lesson I learned is that strength comes from community. The community at the University of Lethbridge has taught me that it is okay to ask for support when you need it. From my peers to professors to university staff, there have been many times where community support has helped me through challenges. I’ve also learned how beautiful collaboration can be when you take time to listen and learn from those around you.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
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. Right now, I am part of the Migration Group task force with the United Nations Major Group for Children and 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.
What advice would you give to students who are about to begin their post-secondary journeys?
My advice to incoming students would be to stay curious and to not be afraid to approach people. If there is a group of students doing work you are interested in or a professor researching a subject that excites you, introduce yourself! There is so much to gain from these introductions and by being brave to ask questions. Most people are really excited to talk about what they are passionate about and you never know what exciting adventures may await you as the result of even one conversation. The University of Lethbridge is such a welcoming community, so it is the perfect place to grow connections and seize opportunities!