Philanthropy conference encourages students to give back
By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer
Student Liisa MacNicholas admits that when she first signed up to volunteer with the Queen’s Conference on Philanthropy two years ago, she barely knew what a conference was, let alone understood the full scope of philanthropy. But attending the event allowed her to imagine new possibilities. “I realized how powerful I was,” she recalls. “It changed how I saw myself and the difference I could make in the world.”
That first year experience also deeply impacted the rest of her time at Queen’s. Now a third year student, Ms. MacNicholas, who is studying math, has become a conference co-chair. She and co-chair Christie Park, along with an executive team of 20, hope to inspire a new wave of generosity among students when they bring the sixth incarnation of the conference to the Kingston Holiday Inn this weekend.
More than 150 student delegates are signed up to hear from a list of guest speakers that includes Olympic wrestler Ohenewa Akuffo, former child solider Michel Chikwanine, along with social worker and hip hop dancer, Stephen Leafloor, among many others.
“This year’s conference theme is ‘limitless’,” explains Ms. MacNicholas, “and our message is that there is no limit to how you can incorporate philanthropy in your life. There is no limit to how you can get involved. I think a lot of students box themselves into their routines. It can be hard to know how to give back.”
She is quick to add that while the term philanthropy is often associated with financial giving, the word actually means “love of humanity”. “So when you look at that message, it’s really about doing something that will benefit others. This year’s speakers will show us that you don’t have to go into philanthropy as a career to have it play a role in your life.”
Not that Ms. MacNicholas has ruled out that possibility. She says one of the best aspects of the conference is the opportunity to network with people interested in doing philanthropic work and from philanthropic organizations.
“The conference also provides a way to educate people about what kinds of careers are out there,” she explains. “When I started volunteering for the conference, I didn’t know you could have a career in fundraising or philanthropy.”
While Ms. MacNicholas hasn’t yet nailed down her own career path, she does know this: she has learned a lot since getting involved with the Queen’s Conference on Philanthropy. “It’s been such a crazy learning experience,” she says happily. “We really hope that our conference will encourage delegates to think of new and innovative ways to help others and change the world, whether that be through the career path that they choose, or simply by trying to make someone’s day!”