I believe in Acadia. You should too.

Three years ago, I wrote an article explaining why I had faith in Nova Scotia. I wrote about how the province inspired creativity and how the potential to build a future in this province is here while the immediate opportunities may not be. I wrote about how universities can be the key to our future, with the opportunities for growth and expansion right in front of us.

With graduation just around the corner I want to reflect on why my faith in Acadia University has never been stronger.

I came to Acadia from across the country knowing next to nothing about it. I learned about the history of this university, from the struggle to the prosperity that makes our history unique.

The story of Acadia University is peppered in equal parts by stories of struggle and progress. We are pioneers by birth, by circumstance and by necessity. Through those struggles we have formed a stronger conception of who we are and where we’re going.

Acadia has come out stronger time and time again. Having sat on the Board of Governors and on the University Senate I know that change can be slow. It can be mind-numbing and frustrating, and more often than not the results aren’t seen for years. But that doesn’t mean change is impossible.

The reality is the demands of the 21st century will constantly require us to adapt to changing circumstances. An Acadia education is valuable because it teaches us how to think. This sets us apart from students who graduate from monolithic institutions as a faceless number in a class of hundreds. We have the ability to think for ourselves and to think outside of the box.

I believe in Acadia because we’re imagining what comes next. The Campaign for Acadia gives us an opportunity to improve the lives of students who will shape this university for the next decade and beyond. Everything from expanding scholarships to hiring the best faculty to reimagining our campus is possible in this endeavour. I’ve put my money where my mouth is and personally donated $100 to this campaign because I fundamentally believe in the potential of this institution.

But I believe in Acadia for more than the flashy posters and inflated clichés. I believe in Acadia because it’s nurtured students and faculty who care about one another. It gives us the platform to launch our careers in the wider world and make a real difference. It gives us the ability to make a name for ourselves by pursuing what we love.

I started Humans of Acadia three years ago because I wanted to capture what makes this town special. We all have unique stories to tell and by sharing them we’ve connected past, present, and future students of this university. Taking pictures and telling the stories of the people who make our community extraordinary has been an absolute privilege.

I’ve had the opportunity to hear from hundreds of people about what makes this town special. From international students who moved thousands of kilometres from home to Wolfville residents who have lived in Nova Scotia their whole lives, this community has made an imprint on my heart. Every story I’ve captured has taught me that the Acadia community looks out for one another. We’re not afraid to pick each other up when we fall down.

This isn’t to say Acadia is perfect. Far from it. There’s still tremendous progress that needs to be made. We need to break down financial barriers that keep top talent from attending our institution. We need to lead the process of indigeneity and we need to create an institution that welcomes students of colour and doesn’t relegate them to second-class students. We need to build an accessible campus so that every student has the same ability to obtain an Acadia education. We need to admit our failures as an institution and build on them instead of sweeping them under the rug.  

We’re on the right track. The growth of the Black Students’ Association over the past two years has shown that when students mobilize, we can make a real difference. Discussions on racial, gender, and social issues that should have happened years ago are finally coming to the forefront. Curriculum changes are incorporating more contemporary issues into our syllabi and getting us to ask hard questions. We’re reaching out to the world and building partnerships from the Maple League to Japan to cement our niche in the post-secondary ecosystem.

There will always be naysayers. Change isn’t always popular, nor fun or easy. But it is necessary. Acadia will continue to be a crucial part of Canada and an even more important player in an increasingly connected world. We’re currently taking steps in the right direction, with student and faculty movements shaping where we go as a university. My four years at Acadia have taught me that this university is more than the degree you get at Convocation− it’s about the people you meet and the stories you make.

Ultimately the students make Acadia possible. Together we’ve been able to achieve great things, and it’s with unwavering optimism in the Acadia spirit that I look forward to the next generation.  We’ve proven that we can be better. All of the necessary tools for growth and expansion are in front of us and the roadmap is there.

I believe in Acadia.

You should too.