Al-Amin Ahamed, Nutritional Sciences

Al-amin Ahamed

The virtues of my leadership style have transformed dramatically throughout my undergraduate career. Whether it be as an Orientation Coordinator or Student Mentor, my experiences have transcribed a more holistic understanding of leadership and its impact on the community. Graduating high school under the Specialized Future Leaders Program, I had entered university with the confidence to put myself out there by already demonstrating essential leadership skills. However, realizing that most did not come from this background I knew it was difficult for others to get involved and give back proactively to the university. It is because of this that my leadership philosophy has garnered around the ability to encourage others to act and reach their true potential. Inevitably, my leadership virtues have evolved to reflect on the values of
acceptance, opportunity and growth not only as a leader but as an individual.

As a commuter student for the first three years of my undergraduate degree, I found it meticulous and demanding to balance my academics and extracurriculars, but by immersing myself in a variety of leadership positions I developed the essential skills to manage my time and create meaningful outcomes. Starting my involvement as an Orientation Executive for Innis College, I proved to others that leadership opportunities can not only be rewarding in the short term, but also in the long run. Not having any prior Innis College experience, I demonstrated the impact of hard work and that commuter representation is important when exemplifying the diversity and values of acceptance. I realized I had the capacity to make a difference in the commuter portfolio by modeling the behaviours of what could be if others took action. This in turn influenced me to extend my leadership involvement throughout campus and the community to inspire others to do the same.

Now in my final year at university, I find myself more involved than ever and in the unique position as one of the first commuter student Residence Dons at Innis College. Within this context I have amalgamated my diverse experiences as a commuting leader to provide essential support to residence students. This dual-perspective in student life has allowed me to accomodate my leadership style for the benefit of all students through one-on-one mentorship. Actively accepting and inspiring all students to get involved subsequently led to more student engagement within the residence. Staying true and authentic to my outspoken brand as a marginalized-queer commuting student similarly modeled much needed representation in leadership. Breaking barriers and dissecting gradients in opportunity I allowed others to seek opportunity of their own to consequently grow in their own values and experiences. This rewarding opportunity allowed me to really put my skills to the test and use my diverse experiences to help build and facilitate a cooperative, productive, supportive and energized residence environment. Planning to also continue my involvement even after I graduate, I have secured the position of Orientation Coordinator 2020 for Innis College.

Another leadership experience that has contributed valuable outcomes is my experience as the Co-President of the Nutritional Sciences Student Association (NSSA). This role allowed me to branch out from my comfort zone and endeavor in rebranding projects to refresh the identity of the student association. Spearheading the actions taken to produce a new logo, network with new organizations and collaborating with other student unions inevitably helped rebrand and advocate our goals of success and mentorship on behalf of the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Within this position I also helped bridge gaps in student responsibility to create a more cohesive and proactive executive team that in turn worked collaboratively to get work done.

This genuine interest and motivation to make a difference in Nutritional Sciences stemmed from my ongoing research interests in maternal choline diet models. As an undergraduate research student, my project focussed on the effects of a differing maternal choline diets on the long-term lipid metabolism in offspring. By presenting my research to the Department of Nutritional Sciences I developed growth not only as a leader but as an individual by reflecting on constructive criticism. I took this as an opportunity to grow and learn in a demanding field, empowering myself and others who witnessed my achievements.

At first it may seem that my leadership achievements are incoherent; however, all these experiences reinforce the importance of opportunity and mentorship, which can also be reinforced in my involvement as a mentee with the Innis Alumni Mentorship Project and as a mentor with the Global Society for Genetics and Genome Biology (GSGGB) Mentorship Program. Within these roles I have taken the opportunity to learn from a mentor to help facilitate my career goals and motivations, while similarly aiding first year students with their overwhelming transition into university life.

Guiding students to reach their potential is essential when trying to build a community within the university and community context. Inspiring others to actively use their talents through a sense of empowerment and encouragement to act and make a difference has been at the forefront of my leadership philosophy. It has served as the foundation for my ideals and values in valuable leadership contributions and will serve as my platform to continue my positive impact in the long-term.