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Spotlight: Maya Venters, Academic Affairs Commissioner
Ever wondered who you can reach out to about an academic issue?
For this Spotlight edition, we're highlighting the amazing work of our Academic Affairs Commissioner, Maya Venters, who advocates for student rights and assists with academic accommodations. Although this is Maya’s second year in her position, she’s enjoyed an exciting three years working with what she describes as, “a hard-working and collaborative WUSA team.” In her role, she’s had the opportunity to work on the academic portfolio with the VP Education and help address a variety of academic concerns across campus, including but not limited to teaching awards, petitions, grievances, and appeals, student course perceptions, as well as teaching and learning spaces.
But where did this adventure begin? "I got involved in my first year accidentally," says Maya.
"I was originally involved with the student union at St. Jerome’s and had a couple of upper-year mentors really push me to join WUSA. I realized there was a lot to learn and I've been in the role ever since."
Maya loves the variety of people she gets to work with; ranging from students, staff, alumni, and more. She's found there’s always somebody looking to mentor you or who needs mentoring in return. This creates a great learning environment that helps give back. Maya is also extremely committed to being part of advocacy here at WUSA.
"Student advocacy is working with everyone from undergraduate and graduate students, to people all across campus. In my role, I get to wear lots of different hats. There’s always lots to learn and lots of people to talk to."
Acting as Academic Affairs Commissioner for WUSA has allowed Maya to explore her love for helping people, voicing concerns, effecting tangible change, and being on the ground with students. She believes there are many valuable opportunities to make a difference on campus and that all it takes is some dedication. Her diverse role has also required her to learn to adapt and interact with different people. Through this role and those experiences, she’s been able to navigate the crossing of different areas of expertise to ultimately negotiate the best possible solution among diverse teams; something she is excited to take with her to future roles.
What valuable piece of advice did she learn on her first day with WUSA? You shouldn’t be nervous or afraid if you’re the youngest or most inexperienced one in the room. In fact, it can often be a good thing, as it's an opportunity to learn from those around you and maybe even bring a unique perspective to the table.
Out of all the projects that Maya has been a part of, she is most excited about formalizing the Centre for Academic Policy Support (CAPS); a student-run support service for students navigating academic policies.; Maya has been working on this project since her first year, and is happy to see it finally come to fruition as an official service at WUSA. She thinks that CAPS often goes overlooked:
“I’d really like students to know it exists. It’s important for students to educate themselves and be aware of the services we’re offering. This is something that can really help them.”
Another one of Maya’s favourite programs to run is the WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards. (Nominate your top professor today!) She finds it extremely rewarding to recognize exceptional professors for quality teaching on our campus.
While Maya has already accomplished much during her tenure, she still has her sights clearly set on the future. Her vision for the campus community is one where everyone really tries to work together to help each other on an individual level. It’s that working one-on-one where she gets to experience how caring this student body can be. She hopes this can be something our campus will continue to embody.
But how does she juggle all these responsibilities at once? Maya has been able to take a reduced course load while working part-time at WUSA. Although that means she’s never had a term off, it does ensure a slightly lighter load. Here she shares her tips for time management: "Take care of yourself. The reason I’m able to manage everything I do is by keeping a good sleep schedule, exercising, and eating well. Those things keep me in a rhythm and a structure where I have energy and am excited about what I’m doing. It gets me ready to tackle the day. It’s not always about the big picture for organizing your schedule but the little parts of piecing your day together."
Maya has been involved in a lot of exciting changes and has learned firsthand what a difference WUSA can make on campus. In higher-level campus organizations, she says, “…our voices are really valued and we're backed by a lot of resources, great staff, and bodies across campus to help us do our job well.”
If you're like Maya and are excited about bringing positive change to the Waterloo community, we encourage you to get involved!