“I have always been the type of person who isn’t satisfied being at a stand-still. Even in high school; Student Body President for two years, Best Buddies mentorship program for the developmentally delayed, DECA business case competition for four years, and just about every club and council I could get my hands on. I’ve always been excited by opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute to the community around me in any way I could. I was CEO of Operations for a Beyond Borders (experiential learning program for business students) fundraising gala, “Limitless”, where we raised $35,000 for Mount Sinai Hospital’s Fetal Care Unit, and an Executive on the planning committee for “ten4ten”, a fundraising campaign that raised over $300,000 for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. For the last five years, I’ve been a Social Media and Public Relations coordinator for Guelph’s local Hillside Festival, a cornerstone event in our community. I feel exceptionally rewarded to have been a part of these experiences. Of course, I’ve done my share of part-time jobs over the years to allow me to pay for tuition, rent, and my other costs – restaurant (Little Caesars) and retail (Best Buy) jobs have always been a responsibility I’ve kept through it all. Throughout my time at University of Guelph, I’ve been very lucky to contribute to a variety of clubs, projects, and departments. I participated in the DECA U provincial case competition in Toronto, and held the position of Marketing Coordinator for Textbooks for Change, an on-campus B Corp that puts old textbooks to use. This past school year, I worked as a Research Communications Writer for the University of Guelph Office of Research. This exposed me to an abundance of agricultural, scientific, and economic research, and the art of knowledge translation – being able to read and understand complicated research concepts and be able to translate that research to the general public. Currently, I’m serving an eight-month co-op term at the University of Guelph’s Experiential Learning Hub (formerly Co-op and Careers Services) as their Marketing and Events Assistant. In this position I create all the digital and print media content, serve on our department’s United Way committee, manage all social media platforms, create and implement social media policies, and represent the University at events such as recruitment events, resource fairs, and job/career fairs, among many other responsibilities. I’ve become very passionate about the work I do in this department. In fact, I increased the Experiential Learning Hub’s follower count by almost 50% in less than four months. I believe that the opportunities for great, impactful work are endless when you’re enthusiastic and passionate about the work you do.
For as long as I can remember, I have been academically driven, ambitious, hungry for knowledge, and eager to seek leadership opportunities. As a woman this can be seen as abrasive and even threatening to those who have issues equation women and success. I have a vision for my future that involves public policy and food system transformations. The reality is that there is plenty of food and agricultural land – more than enough to go around, but there are political processes that disallow everyone everywhere to access it. It’s a complicated matter but that doesn’t mean that we should avoid it. With the climate crisis, the nutrition crisis, and all the crises that seem to be coming at us from every angle, it can be tempting for those in power to say, “Nothing can be done”. The food system is a complicated series of interlocking functions – socio-economic factors, pathology and health, environmental, economic, and agricultural factors – and agents like governments and corporations. As a third year student with three more academic years and twelve more months of co-op, I know there is still so much to learn. I would be ecstatic to continue to explore sustainability in food and agricultural policy, the roles of political stake-holders, and the decarbonization of the agriculture industry. I hope that by attending this conference, my eyes will be opened to all the different possibilities in the food and agricultural industries, and the different experiences of the successful women in those industries. I hope that it adds flame to a passion that I already possess for making tangible change in a world of environmental and economic crises. I would love to speak to everyone I can who can teach me and challenge me as I follow that passion. I feel that every single day is a new opportunity to grow and develop – the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity to grow. I can only dream that one day I may be someone standing on the stage at an Advancing Women conference.”
-Alicia Bowland, University of Guelph