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Graduate Leaders Circle offers academic mentoring and success

Top scholars inspire and help university students to reach their goals
June 19, 2015
The Welcome Event, hosted in the fall of 2014 by the Graduate Leaders Circle, fostered a sense of community and introduced new GLC members to returning members. The speed-networking event also helped members sharpen their communication skills. Photo by Joel Roberts

The Welcome Event, hosted in the fall of 2014 by the Graduate Leaders Circle, fostered a sense of community and introduced new GLC members to returning members. The speed-networking event also helped members sharpen their communication skills. Photo by Joel Roberts

If success is a ship that discovers pathways while helping others in its wake, then the Graduate Leaders Circle — a student-led initiative in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) — is charting exciting territories this year.

Advances are being been made in the My GradSkills endorsed workshops, the Three Minute Thesis Competition and the Rising Leaders Forum. As the faculty expands on past successes and lays the groundwork for new ones, it continues to inspire positive changes on campus and beyond.

The Graduate Leader’s Circle (GLC) has provided key tips and advice to graduate students applying for Tri-council, Killam and Vanier scholarships through My GradSkills endorsed workshops since 2011. This program has helped nearly double the number of Vanier scholars at the university in just four years.

Scholarship advice and feedback that works

Due to its success, the program will be expanded next fall to provide feedback on applications for most of the awards available to graduate students. Further details on the program will be available in September.

Another GLC success within the past month is Elizabeth Watt’s win at the national Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, the first University of Calgary student to do so. Kelsey Collins, a Killam Scholar and second-year member of the group, provided feedback for 3MT participants, including Watt, who went on to sweep the competition at the university, the Western Regional and Canadian finals. This high-profile win will likely inspire University of Calgary students to participate in the competition, which the university hosted last year.

Additionally, getting valuable advice from top scholars just got easier with the faculty’s recently launched Graduate Leaders Circle (GLC) website. 

GLC reaches out to students and community

The GLC is comprised of Vanier Doctoral, Killam Doctoral Scholars and the Graduate Students’ Association president. The group offers the university community and students a unique opportunity to learn from the best through its teaching, volunteering and mentoring programs.

FGS is committed to training the next generation of scholars, practitioners and professionals in a setting that encourages innovation and inspires success. The GLC carries this goal forward by developing its own opportunities for learning and development and by bringing those learnings back to the community through its programs. By accessing these students, you can get a hand up from those who are among the university community’s best and brightest. Members have demonstrated significant achievement and potential through their own initiative and are eager to share their knowledge and experience with others.

The organization reaches out beyond the campus and into the broader community, as well. You can find GLC members acting as ambassadors of the Faculty of Graduate Studies by volunteering and speaking at charity events. These graduate students eagerly share their knowledge and expertise as part of a culture that encourages helping others. In doing so, they lead others to success.

Explore profiles of GLC members. If you have a potential teaching opportunity, or speaking engagement for the GLC scholars, contact

Forum with alumni raises community awareness

The recent Rising Leaders Forum showcased high-profile community leaders who are University of Calgary alumni. These participants embodied the spirit of sharing and success, contributing their hands-on experience to benefit the student audience.  
The forum featured the theme of Leading Impactful Lives. Participants at the event considered the many ways an individual can impact the world around them, on a local, national and even global scale — and gained valuable insight.

Lisa Young, University of Calgary dean and vice-provost, Faculty of Graduate Studies, moderated the forum. Featured panellists included Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi; Geoffrey Cumming, an international businessman and a key donor to the Cumming School of Medicine, and Susan Smith, an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Nursing and executive director of Caminamos Juntos para Salud y Sadarrollo.

“We wanted the forum to be a bit of an aspirational talk this year,” said Ryan Lewinson, Killam and Vanier Scholar, GLC co-chair and event organizer. “Hearing from the best of the best on a topic that was easily relatable to our audience of student leaders, we wanted to inspire the students to elevate their personal goals for themselves, and translate these messages to the rest of the university community.”

Reach out, take action and listen to others, says panel

Collins, also a GLC co-chair and organizer for the event, found members of the high-profile panel to be remarkably humble. “It is fantastic for trainees to hear from people that have been selfless and humble while making incredible differences in their respective ways.”

Cumming urged the audience to develop a global vision while establishing a personal independence of mind. Smith explained how she learns from the people that she helps and emphasized the importance of listening to people, who will tell you what you need to know to help them. Mayor Nenshi asked forum participants to always look for opportunities to help others.

In response to student questions about how to prioritize and choose projects that bring change, panel members advised taking action, listening to others and trusting your own judgment.

Lewinson says the GLC invited speakers who were all University of Calgary alumni this year to create a degree of likeness between the presenters and the audience. Lewinson added: "Sort of allowing the audience to envision themselves projecting their careers in similar paths and saying, 'Maybe one day I can do something like that, too.' "