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It may seem daunting to initially join an exec team, but that is where most of the learning happens. Don’t feel intimidated by the responsibility or the title of the position because it is all part of this amazing journey of self-development

 The SFU Passion Club provides various self-development workshops for young women.  Janelle interviewed Niyanta Baniya, President of the SFU Passion Club.

1. To Start Off, How About Introducing Yourself?

My name is Niyanta Baniya and I am the President of SFU Passion Club for the current year, 2014-2015. I previously held the Internal Coordinator position two years ago, and have been an active member in re-launching the club here at SFU this year.  I am also a 3rd year Business student intending to concentrate in Finance and MIS. Currently, I work part time as a Project Assistant at Canada Revenue Agency.

2. Could You Give a Bit of Introduction to Passion Foundation and the SFU Passion Club?

The Passion Foundation is a Vancouver based non-profit organization that aims to empower and connect young women through leadership and self-development tools. Loretta Cella incorporated the foundation in 2007 and has facilitated several workshops on leadership development and self-exploration here in Vancouver, and also in other countries such as South Africa, Mexico, Kampala, Nairobi and India. 

As a chapter of this foundation, the SFU Passion Club supports the Foundation’s vision in empowering young women through self-exploration and community involvement. We do this by providing workshops to help women with several aspects of self-development such as self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-confidence while facilitating a positive environment for them to connect with like-minded individuals. Although we focus our activities on self-development of young women, anyone is welcome to participate and benefit from the opportunities provided by our club.

3. How Did You Get Involved With SFU Passion Club?

Back in 2012, I met Loretta at a workshop called "Find Your Passion" at SFU. It was a two-day workshop on self-development. I attended the workshop out of curiosity and uncertainty as I was trying to figure myself out and what I wanted to do in University. When Loretta spoke with me, we connected right away and I felt like she knew exactly what I was going through. It was the first time I felt as if there was someone out there who genuinely wanted to help me better understand and develop myself and that’s when I decided that I wanted to be actively involved with this Foundation. Following the workshop, I immediately contacted Loretta and connected with Adeelah Saad, the Founder of the SFU Passion Club. I learned that the Internal Coordinator position for the club was open, and since then I have been closely affiliated with the club.

SFU Passion Club

4. What Have You Learned as Both a Member and a Club Executive of SFU Passion Club?

During these past three years in University, I have felt that most of us are so focused on completing our degree that we barely have time to reflect back on ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and who we are as a person. Through personal experiences and also what I have heard from my colleagues, I found that we are still struggling when it comes to self-development especially with self-acceptance and self-confidence. Therefore, being involved with SFU Passion Club has made me realize that self-development is a lifelong process and you work for it every day through self-reflection and goal setting, and surrounding yourself with positive, like-minded people. Since my involvement with this club, I have truly been able to invest my time and attention in exploring who I am as an individual, my goals in University and life in general and how and when I want to achieve them. My involvement with this club has provided me with a pathway to self-exploration and individual growth as it has made me realize that self-development is not just a key to professional growth but also a key to many aspects of personal success.

5. What are Some Future Events or Workshops the Club Will Be Hosting?

We are excited to be hosting several workshops and events throughout the year. As a part of our ‘Self-development’ workshop series, we will be hosting a total of four workshops. The first workshop, focused on ‘Self-awareness’, is scheduled to be held on Wednesday March 18, 2015! It will be an interactive learning session which will include discussions and art activities aimed towards helping students become more aware of who they are. Following this, our next workshops will focus on ‘Self-acceptance’ and ‘Self-confidence’ respectively. Finally, we will be ending this workshop series with a ‘Building your Brand’ workshop so please look forward to this fun, interactive series. In addition to these workshops, we will be planning several fun hang-outs during the summer months to allow members and execs to learn more about each other in a relaxed, fun environment. Having said that, anyone interested is more than welcome to join us in these hang-outs.

Lastly, we will host our signature event during the Fall Semester called ‘Makeup 4 Change’. Makeup 4 Change is a fundraising event to raise money for Passion Foundation while celebrating and embracing femininity. During this event, we bring in professional makeup artists to do participants’ makeup for a minimum donation of $3. All the donations will go to Passion Foundation to help provide resources and opportunities for young women in areas of literacy enhancement and social development. 

7.  As President of a Club, Could You Give Any Advice to Students on How They Can Become Involved in Clubs and How to Take Part in an Executive Team?

There are numerous clubs and ways to get involved at SFU, so I am positive that students will find a club that will interest them and be both rewarding and fun at the same time. My advice to students would be to explore various clubs and their programs at SFU. Even if you are uncertain or doubtful, give it a try! You never know what an opportunity is like unless you explore it, so never be afraid to approach or ask for guidance.

I personally find it easier to be a member of a club first to find out more about the culture and group dynamics of the club before getting involved as part of the executive team. However, I still strongly encourage students who are interested in starting right away as an executive member to just go for it. Honestly, previous experience or association with the club does not really matter if you are determined and motivated as an individual. It may seem daunting to initially join an exec team, but that is where most of the learning happens. Don’t feel intimidated by the responsibility or the title of the position because it is all part of this amazing journey of self-development, especially here at University level. Also, there may be a general assumption among students that in order to join an exec team, you have to have a lot of experience and skills, but that is not necessarily true. All of us are here to grow, and clubs in general can be very supportive in terms of providing the assistance, mentorship and encouragement for you to flourish. Ultimately, students should believe in themselves and go after that what they want.

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