LYAC Alumni

Lester Tam

Year on Council: 2013-2014

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1) What have you been up to since you were on council?

I now work in the financial services industry.

2) What are your plans for the future?

I don’t have any long term (10+ year) plans, but I believe that your twenties are for learning, so my plan is to learn as much as possible. Part of this means being the best that I can be in my career, but I also want to explore all the things that I didn’t get a chance to learn about while I was in school. For example, I’d like to take a class in improv!

3) Looking back, what role do you feel the LYAC had in your life?

For me, being part of the LYAC was a lesson in awareness. Although the LYAC primarily consists of young people, the span between 15 and 25 still encompasses a number of life milestones and therefore significantly different perspectives. One of the core beliefs that gives life to the LYAC is that the youth perspective is important and relevant. If so, do we practice that same principle in the LYAC? Asked another way, is everyone’s voice equally heard within the LYAC regardless of age? Yes- but not without awareness on the part of more experienced Council members.

As one of those members, I learned to be aware of the fact that there is a natural bias to mute those who are less experienced. Being aware of this bias and addressing it allows our ideas as Council to remain fresh and relevant to the constituents we wish to serve. At the same time, it has further strengthened my belief in what LYAC represents and advocates for, namely the importance of the youth perspective.

4) Is there a particular memory of an event or moment during your experience with the LYAC that has stuck with you?

One of my most memorable times at LYAC was during a working session where I collaborated with other council members to develop a policy stance on the issue of local employment in London. In school or work, you often work together on a project out of necessity- to complete a credit or fulfill a client request. But this experience was different because we were spending our free time to work on something that we were all passionate about while seeking to make an impact beyond our own individual bottom lines. There is something about that camaraderie and collaboration that is uniquely fulfilling.

5) If you could give someone any advice who is considering running for council, what would it be?

If you run, you should do your very best and take it seriously! I have found that the momentum you generate while running for Council will be vital for propelling you forward while you are on Council. The more serious you take the election process, the more serious you will take your role on Council. Why do I think that? When you ask for someone to vote for you and to support you, there is a certain trust that they are placing in you.

Recognizing the gravity of this trust during the election process will lead one to recognize their responsibility to each of their constituents while they are on Council. I encourage everyone considering running for Council to do so and to put their best foot forward while doing it. Starting off strong will allow you to finish strong and I think you will have much more fun doing it that way!


Matt Helfand

Year on Council: 2013-2014

Matt_Helfand.jpeg1) What have you been up to since you were on council?

I finished my Master’s degree in Political Science. I also ran in the USC elections last year, where I am currently the President of the USC.

2) What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to finish this job ( as President of the USC), and then attend law school. After that I plan on practicing as a lawyer.

3) Looking back, what role do you feel the LYAC had in your life?

The LYAC was an interesting experience, it brought lots of people together I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Coming from Toronto to London, I wouldn’t have seen myself as a London political body, showing how youth voice can be taken seriously within a community. Seeing the growth of the LYAC over a few short years, and being a part of the beginning of the organization is great.

4) Is there a particular memory of an event or moment during your experience with the LYAC that has stuck with you?

One council meeting we went to the Emergency Response Centre in Byron, which is the home for emergency management in London. Seeing and learning about the immense logistics that goes behind emergency management for a community like London, stuck out to me.

5) If you could give someone any advice who is considering running for council, what would it be?

Just do it! It is a public service and the LYAC is a noble endeavour. Too few people take it on as it something that is meaningful. You have very little to lose, and you don’t need to have certain qualifications. Sound judgement and character is all you need.


Jordan Sojnocki

 Year On Council: 2013-2014
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1) What have you been up to since you were on council?

There was three things I felt very passionate about while on the London Youth Advisory Council so I feel that these would be the three most important things to update on.

Music

The end of my term on council ended with me launching London Covers. That project allowed me to expand London’s awareness of local talent and I now sit on the London Music Industry Development Task Force. These two opportunities combined will be a driving force for London’s youth to see how innovative the city can be in nurturing talent.

Technology

I am working full time for a company called Able-One Systems which has allows me to blend my passion for marketing and technology to ensure clients have a competitive edge. I also sit on the board of the London Bridge Network, where we hold 6 monthly networking events to help bridge the technology sector with many other business sectors here in London.

Entrepreneurialism 

I am still a very strong advocate for the London Start-Up community. As the London rep for Able-One we are one of several corporations to use Hacker studios. Personally, I have since launched Bubble Up with two partners and am completing the Starter Company program with the London Small Business Centre.

2) What are your plans for the future?

I believe it is really important to keep developing yourself personally. This will lead me to continue to expand my role in my career, continue building side projects, support local innovation in tech and music, as well as travelling as much as I can!

3) Looking back, what role do you feel the LYAC had in your life?

I am extremely happy to say that I was an elected member of the LYAC. The personal growth and connections it made have been huge. I did not grow up in London and my only real connection to this town was through school. The LYAC really helped to foster a political interest and a love for London. The amount of times it has come up in conversation and the amount of times I was able to understand different perspectives has really helped to create who I am today

4) Is there a particular memory of an event or moment during your experience with the LYAC that has stuck with you?

For me personally it would be impossible not to look back at that year and think of the London Covers project. To have a crazy idea that turned into a reality really helped to open my eyes and remind me to always dream bigger.

 5) If you could give someone any advice who is considering running for council, what would it be?

I have noticed a common theme with many organizations and I guess it comes from the design of them. With the LYAC in particular so many bright and highly involved individuals are put in a room together and it is difficult to not have a lot of powerful discussions. However, you have been given an amazing opportunity, make sure that the discussion turns into action. As active youth we are always told we are the voice of the future but remember that we are also the ones that have to put them into action! Pick a project that you are passionate about, get out there and make it happen.


Amna Wasty

 Year on Council: 2013 – 2014

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1) What have you been up to since you were on council?

I have focused my energy on being  involved in the Western community. I’m currently completing my 3rd year of undergrad, while working at and volunteering with the International and Exchange Student Centre at Western. I am also currently an executive member of the MSA (Muslim Student Alliance) at Western.

2) What are your plans for the future?

After graduating, I hope to gain some work experience and obtain my CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional) designation. I also hope to continuously be involved in the future of the City of London.

3) Looking back, what role do you feel the LYAC had in your life?

Being a council member on the LYAC was a definitely a life-changing experience for me. The entire experience really pushed me out of my comfort zone. The experience has taught me that it is possible to help improve the greater good all while engaging in self-development. I am extremely grateful to Matt Ross and Adam Fearnall for the opportunity and for all the support they have provided. My decision to run for the LYAC was one of the best choices I have ever made; I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

4) Is there a particular memory of an event or moment during your experience with the LYAC that has stuck with you?

One particular memory that will always remain with me is representing the LYAC on a working group for employment as part of the Emerging Leaders London X conference. I had the privilege of voicing youth perspectives on the difficulties of finding employment in London. I also had the opportunity to get to know other Londoners who were truly passionate about the topic. The highlight was watching my friend, Jennifer Tozer,  HR Employee Relations Officer at TVDSB, present our findings at the London X Conference in 2014, where hundreds of Londoners who cared to make a difference had gathered.

5) If you could give someone any advice who is considering running for council, what would it be?

The sky is the limit. You don’t have to have a specific background to be part of the LYAC; you just need passion – passion to help others and passion to truly want to engage in the city and promote positive change. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve everything you planned to do. Every step and every action you take – whether it’s voicing your opinion, engaging with politicians, or doing research on unemployment – is a step that matters and will lead to a snowball effect of greater change. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For me, that began with running for the LYAC.


Mary-Margaret Dixon

 Year on Council: 2012 – 2013
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1) What have you been up to since you were on council?

I graduated high school, I went to Western University for my first year of post-secondary education. Later I started at Fanshawe in Pre-Health. I currently sit on the LYAC’s Board of Directors.

2) What are your plans for the future?

I will applying for the Paramedic program at Fanshawe here in London, which will hopefully be completed by June 2017.

3) Looking back, what role do you feel the LYAC had in your life?

I think the LYAC opened many doors for me. It showed me that I had leadership potential and taught me to network and use my resources.

4) Is there a particular memory of an event or moment during your experience with the LYAC that has stuck with you?

I remember being in a meeting that wasn’t going particularly well, we decided to throw Robert’s Rules out the window and opted to sit on the floor and have a meaningful and efficient meeting. It humanized the LYAC for me.

5) If you could give someone any advice who is considering running for council, what would it be?

Apathy is the enemy. Put yourself out there and if you’re fortunate enough to be  elected, make an honest attempt to better your City and represent its youth accurately.