UTM student connects to campus through giving back
Jordan Foster is a familiar face around campus and it’s not just because he is sometimes mistaken for fellow student and fraternal twin brother, Joshua.
Over the last four years, Foster could often be found front and centre at the control desk of the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Center, leading a sociology tutorial or volunteering his time with Health & Counselling Centre initiatives around campus.
In June, Foster will graduate from U of T Mississauga’s Concurrent Teacher Education program with a major in psychology and double minors in sociology and political science. But it was through volunteering that Foster found the greatest connection to his campus community. “I really wanted a chance to experience more of campus life, and giving back was important to me,” he says. “I wanted to do something for someone else.”
He jumped at the opportunity to become a team lead with the HCC’s Peer Health Education mental health team where he volunteered at Exam Jam, led mental health workshops around campus and organized events like an autumn flower market.
Foster also worked as a video blogger and team lead with UTMental, a video campaign that uses social media to promote positive change in mental health and remove the stigma associated with mental illness. Through that project, Foster shared his personal experiences living with chronic depression, as well as tips on coping with stress, finding resilience and accessing campus services. “I wanted to be honest about my experience in the hopes that others in need of help might feel less alone and more inclined to seek help,” he says.
“Many students feel pressured to perform well all the time, but it’s important for students to hear that it’s normal to struggle with school or personal life, and that it should be expected,” he says. “I volunteered because I have benefitted from a lot of help, and I hope that other students would take that opportunity to talk about their own mental health issues.” Foster’s efforts were recognized with the 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions by U of T students.
What does the future hold? “I have a lot of goals,” Foster says. As part of the concurrent education program, he has a final year at teacher’s college ahead. But he says he has developed a passion for sociology, spurred in part by his part-time job working as a stylist with fashion retailer Club Monaco.
“Watching how people relate to one another and to brands in consumer culture is fascinating,” he says, adding that he is mulling a graduate program in sociology after he completes his teaching degree. “I have a lot of learning still to do,” he says. “I’m excited to look ahead and know that I’ll continue to be a student.”