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Getting involved has been the key to Jess Dela Cruz’s success at SFU, to her wellbeing, and to winning a Simon Fraser Student Society’s (SFSS) Women of the Year award. The award is given to one self-identified women from each faculty for their hard work and dedication to the SFU community.
Dela Cruz is a second-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) who plans to major in English with a double minor in History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Beyond her role as a student, she’s become deeply involved with FASS.
In her second semester she volunteered as a mentor on the Burnaby campus helping incoming FASS students adjust to university life. Then in her second year she started work as the Engagement Programming Assistant for Arts Central.
Dela Cruz also volunteers as the FASS Representative of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Student Union (GSWSSU). To top it off, she’s written several news articles for The Peak and tutored with Friends of Simon, although her full schedule has caused her to scale back her contributions.
That whirlwind of activity is a far cry from Dela Cruz’s first few months at SFU which she recalls as a lonely time.
“When I started at SFU it was really hard for me because I couldn’t find people that I could vibe with,” she says. “It was hard for me to find a go-to person like I had at high school where I had lots of teachers to talk with.”
But after diving in to the mentorship program, doors began to open for Dela Cruz. Her network grew and, within it, she found her community.
“Too many first-year students are scared to try something,” she says. “That’s totally normal, but there comes a point where you can’t just keep diving your nose in books and papers. As Engagement Programming Assistant I want to get people who are volunteering to take their learning outside the classroom and find something that they’re passionate about and work towards it. If they find something that they’re willing to achieve through volunteering and community service, they’ll excel as students¬—and as human beings.”