SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition

Don't wait for perfection – jump in

October 22, 2018

Community-engaged projects can be surprising. But as Shantelle Medel shares with us, “It is better to jump in and encounter the imperfections than be paralyzed by trying to achieve perfection.” It’s messy work, but worth it. Shantelle’s project, We Are The World: Stories of Resilience, is co-created magazine that will showcase seniors' stories of resilience locally and from around the world.

What have been your biggest challenges working through your project?

There have been two main challenges we have faced throughout this journey so far. Trying to move forward with the project in the midst of balancing work and school has been difficult due to our limited capacity. Another main challenge is that there are so many ways to approach project planning and implementation. Since we presented our project, our vision for the project has grown. Although our new vision is exciting, innovative, and has more potential to secure sustainability down the road, it requires more work and connections to achieve. It has been difficult to balance being pragmatic and creative with our project plan.

If you could travel back in time to the beginning of your project, what advice would you give to yourself based on what you know, now (and why)?

If I could travel back in time, I would have told myself to make connections with organizations, seniors, and students who can be involved with the project earlier. Given our limited capacity, we delayed making these connections and it has been hard to reignite momentum.

What's been most fulfilling for you about this project?

Although we have not implemented our project yet, this journey has been an enriching process personally and professionally. It has allowed us to grow as public health practitioners in training, providing an opportunity for us to implement what we have learned in the classroom in the community. This journey has also required reflecting on how we can lean on the wisdom seniors and students have, to share to inform our project’s progress and how we can best engage with community members. I look forward to partnering with seniors and students to implement this project!

Has there been a particular source of wisdom or guidance that has helped you? A mentor or a coach?

SFU’s Community Engagement team has been an incredible support and source of wisdom throughout this process. They have provided invaluable advice whenever it is needed. I have appreciated their flexibility in being available anytime we have questions or are trying to work through an obstacle.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. It is better to jump in and encounter the imperfections than be paralyzed by trying to achieve perfection.

We are still in the process of setting up our project. When we received the advice, it was timely as we were paralyzed with worrying too much about setting our project perfectly and achieving sustainability immediately. This advice helped mobilize our project’s progress. Now we are in the process of connecting with organizations and other students who are interested in supporting the project.

We Are The World: Stories of Resilience, was the Grand Prize Award winning idea for Burnaby in the 2017-18 SFU Student Community Engagement Competition.


Hey, students  – What would you  do with $3,000?

Up to $30,000* is available to fund SFU students who want to work with community partners to create meaningful impact. Register today – all you need is your name and a brief description of your idea.