My Stride Campaign School experience embodied a culture of compassion, care and love.
Having struggled to find a place in university throughout my undergraduate degree, Stride was the first environment where I felt like I could belong somewhere.
I was anxious to join because of my lack of experience in student governance, and was under the impression that everyone would be an expert in the field. However, in the first session those fears were completely dissolved. The students were all so diverse - including a cat enthusiast, a Directioner who was more passionate than I was, and a student who thought Stride was a group running club but decided to stay because of the “vibes”. I felt right at home, and instantly at ease.
Stride created an environment where I felt safe, supported and cared for. Shortly after joining, I became a campaign manager for the UASU elections, and because of my lack of experience felt a strong sense of imposter syndrome. Stride was a place I could go to ask basic questions, talk about my struggles navigating the new environment of student governance and relax after a long day of school. I found some of my closest friends through Stride, and really felt supported in my feelings, not only those related to the election but also the anxiety of ending university and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Because the participants were all so diverse, I felt validated in my conflicting feelings towards being a woman of colour in student government, and found a place to voice my opinions with others who were passionate about the same issues. I also learned about the intersections of various identities and student governance, gaining so much knowledge from the lived experiences of my peers. The people I met, lessons I learned and environment of compassion which Stride encompassed are all aspects of the program I still reflect on, and take with me throughout the professional and personal interactions I have.
Having graduated university and gone on to a Masters in Public Health, I also got the opportunity to become a Stride mentor with the program. While very different from the Stride campaign school experience, I learned valuable lessons in mentorship and community through having a mentee. I honestly think that I learned more from my mentee than they learned from me, and because I was a mentor during COVID the mentorship program provided me with the connection I craved during social isolation. My mentee was inspiring in so many ways, and similar to when I was a student in the program I felt a sense of support and encouragement throughout our relationship.
Stride provided me with comfort and belonging in a period of my life where I felt isolated and alone. I am so grateful for the program - through it, I met some of my closest friends and learned valuable skills I continue to use. Having something to look forward to every month created an amazing and memorable last year of undergrad, and I will carry my experiences with me wherever I go.
Author: Jenna Mulji, Stride alumni
The Stride Campaign School is a cohort program aimed at encouraging greater participation/involvement of marginalized genders from all backgrounds – race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, sexuality, and ability - in student governance. The program equips participants with the knowledge, skills, and network to run for a variety of student government positions and make meaningful change on campus.
The first session of this year's program is happening October 5, 2023! Applications are still open.