When asked about her fondest memory at Langara College, an answer came easy to Maggie Stewart. It was the fall of 2015 and Maggie’s birthday happened to fall on the last day of New Student Orientation (NSO). The exciting, activity-filled, multi-day event is a yearly highlight for students and employees, and features numerous on-campus activities, contests, and live entertainment. But for Maggie, the coordinator of Langara’s volunteer program, VOLT, her NSO days are comprised of organizing, troubleshooting, and managing volunteers; not exactly a memorable birthday celebration.
To understand why this day was so unforgettable to Maggie, it’s important to look back to 2009, when she first attended the College. As a student, Maggie was both “ready to take on the world but also terrified of it.” At Langara, Maggie found a safe environment where she discovered how she learned and retained information. From this, she became committed to her education, improved her networking skills, and bolstered her work ethic. “My loved ones call me an education junkie now that I’ve realized my passion for learning. Langara gave me the foundation I needed to continually pursue education.”
Using her passions in the pursuit of education has allowed Maggie to develop her professional skills. From joining the Langara Biology Club, she learned event planning and team management. From her Continuing Studies Volunteer Coordinator Certificate, she learned about recruitment, retention, and recognition of volunteers.
In her volunteer coordinator role, Maggie’s profile is high. She works with many students, interfaces with faculty and staff on a regular basis, and can be found at many on-campus events in support of initiatives that are important to her. While Langara has made a significant impact on her life, it’s obvious by watching her warm interaction with so many in the Langara community that she’s made a meaningful impact on the College as well.
“Langara makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself,” she says. “When I was coming out as gay, I was scared that I would be alone and rejected. Langara proved me wrong by being a community when I was in a dark place, it was the small but important light that kept me going.” It’s within the context of Maggie’s place in the Langara community where her fondest memory comes from; she experienced the feeling when you get back what you give.
“My fondest memory at Langara was [my birthday] during the New Student Orientation in the fall of 2015. The day included numerous embarrassing birthday songs, and by the end it, I was exhausted but felt a great sense of accomplishment,’ she says. “Then a volunteer rushed over to tell me that something bad had happened in the office so I hurried over as fast as I could with all the possible disasters running through my head. When I arrived, they had organized a small surprise party and gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received; a book with thank you and happy birthday messages from many of the volunteers. The messages spoke to how transformative VOLT had been in their lives, how much of an impact it had, and how much the volunteers appreciated VOLT.”
It’s no wonder why that day meant so much to Maggie, knowing how much the community means to her. “Langara means everything to me. It is where I began the journey I am still on today.”
A happy birthday indeed.