I knew that coming to Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science would prepare me to make a difference after graduation. I soon learned I didn’t have to wait!
Thanks in part to the support of donors like you, Queen’s empowers us to take initiative before we even leave campus. As a student, I had the opportunity to explore my passion, connect with mentors beyond my classes, and create change!
While many of my classmates travelled abroad for work study placements in fourth year, I decided to explore local issues by speaking with poverty stricken people right here in Ontario. I learned a lot about poverty and realized that change will not be easy.
As part of my research, I interviewed an older man. He had exhausted all his financial resources and could no longer afford to feed his family. The first time he drove to the food bank, he couldn’t get out of the car. He sat there crying, trying to figure out how he got into this position.
I heard so many similar stories, and I realized that anyone can become dependent on social assistance. It only takes one unfortunate change in luck – a fall in the stock market, a sudden illness, even a slip on the ice can drastically and dramatically change your life.
I wanted to share those stories and put a face on poverty, so I co-authored a book based on my interviews. In November 2010, Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins was on shelves in Ontario.
My passion for addressing poverty in Ontario translated into a broader desire to make a difference. With the interviews complete and the book on shelves, I sought further ways to create change. My co-authors and I sent copies of Persistent Poverty to politicians to share the stories that had touched us so deeply.
But there was more I could do – I wanted to help shape policy and encourage my fellow students to engage in the political process.
I became involved in the Alma Mater Society and jumped at the opportunity to mobilize students to vote in the provincial election. My colleagues and I ran a VOTE Campaign, encouraging students to educate themselves about the issues, the candidates, and where and when to cast their ballots. Our campaign caught the attention of the media, including Canadian comedian Rick Mercer. He created a complementary (and really funny) video message, encouraging students to vote!
Through my research and my book, I am so proud to have played a small part in improving the lives of people living in poverty. My involvement in the VOTE Campaign allowed me to inspire my fellow students, and left me inspired by them.
Lessons learned don’t always happen in the classroom. Thanks to the opportunities made available at Queen’s, students can create change and be changed.
It’s up to each student to take advantage of the opportunities, but it’s thanks to donors that these opportunities are available. Just as one student can make a difference, one donor can make a difference.
We can't do it without you. Please add your support with a gift to the Arts and Science Dean’s Student Resource Fund today .
Yours in thanks,
Mira Dineen, Artsci'12
Global Development Studies