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Student group Q&A: MacEwan Rotaract

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To start, what are your names, and what do you do with your student group?

Myles Dykes: My name is Myles Dykes, and I am the president at the MacEwan Rotaract.

Erin Wadge: My name is Erin Wadge, and I am this year’s president-elect.

Did you start the Rotaract student group, and if not, how long has it been around?

MD: We actually didn’t start this club. It’s five years old, so we’re a little bit established now as a student group, and we’ve done some substantial projects now.

What is the Rotaract student group all about?

MD: We are a service-based organization, and we lean into that community aspect overall. We are part of Rotary International, and we work to advance goodwill and peace around the world, which is the Rotary Creed. The Rotary model itself is service above self. As a club, we’re about our strategic priorities of engaging in social action, reinvigorating our Rotary connections, strength ening our memberships, and fostering leadership opportunities.

What kind of events does the group hold for its members?

EW: So normally, without COVID, we have a lot of events on campus. We have different fundraisers, such as the anti-Valen tine’s Day bake sale, and we hold a Pi Day event, and an ugly Christmas sweater decorating event. We also have a lot of social events and have members get together and socialize. We have a lot of volunteer opportunities, roughly around one to three a month without COVID, of course. Right now, we are doing a lot of our stuff online and volunteering when it’s safe, and doing many events with our sponsor club, the Rotary Club of Edmonton West.

Are you connected to the Rotary Club?

MD: So when you’re founded now, the Rotaract Club can be inde pendent, but when we were founded five years ago, you had to be under a Rotary Club.

What are the benefits of joining the MacEwan Rotaract group?

EW: We are a close community, we volunteer a lot together, and we spend a lot of time in meetings together. A lot of the benefits come from obviously the social aspect. Additionally, and I’m trying to be humble, but we do a lot of great stuff for the community and raise funds for different organizations and charities. Also, it’s a great thing to be able to say when you have a job interview that you are part of the Rotaract club just because we do a lot of events and were quite involved both in our school community, and our community within Edmonton, and of course the Rotary.

MD: To build on that a little bit, this year, we implanted strategic priorities, and I think that gives kind of a good overview of what you can expect when you join our club. Our first strategic priority was engaging in social action. You know, we were really compelled to act after BLM and seeing anti-Asian racism along with COVID in Canada. There are also allegations of racism within the Department of Music at MacEwan University, so we’re really invested in making a really inclusive community. Our second one was reinvigorating our Rotary connections, because there are many benefits we can get from the average Rotarian, who is generally older and has an immense wealth of information and connections. There are always those mentorship opportunities. The third one was strengthening our membership. You know, I think creating a solid membership base really ensures success for a club in the long term. And then we have a lot of leaders in our club, so the last one was fostering leadership opportunities, whether that be within Rotaract, publishing leadership opportu nities that are occurring on campus, and everything of that sort.

What is your favourite thing about being involved in the group?

MD: I would have to say the people, and I guess it will come hand in hand, but the travel opportunities. I’ve been involved with Rotary now in different capacities for five years, and I’ve been able to go to Montreal. Annually our club holds a trip to Belize where we assist in building a playground with the Rotary district. We also help in some local schools in Belize City specifically and work with Literacy Without Borders.

How have things been different this year because of COVID?

EW: So currently, we are hosting all of our meetings online over Zoom, and we have been volunteering a little bit less than we have in previous years just because of a lack of opportunity to do it in a safe manner, which is unfortunate but of course something that’s come out of the pandemic. Additionally, we are hosting a lot of our fundraisers and events online. For example, we had an ugly Christmas sweater contest that we held in December, which raised over $700 for Boyle Street Community Services, and we are also hosting a speaker series coming up later this month.

That’s just kind of how we’ve altered our operations to fit more with the COVID pandemic that we’re dealing with.

What are your hopes and plans for the future post-pandemic?

EW: When we can have meetings in person, that’s going to be awesome. And then having more social activities in person and doing certain fundraisers on campus that I mentioned earlier. Another thing is working on having a smooth transition from online back to in-person. Additionally, just making sure we can work with our sponsor club, and of course, we’re going to work on our strategic priorities some more. We also recently devel oped a financial relief bursary where we dispersed $4,100 to club members. It was supported by our sponsor, the Rotary Club Edmonton West and hopefully, after COVID, we would like to look at implementing that as an annual thing if possible.

Which students should be joining this group?

MD: One thing I love about the Rotaract club is that there is something for everybody. You can join the club because you love to volunteer or because you want to make friends. You could also do it for networking purposes, or because you like travelling. I think there’s an opportunity for everybody. Also, if you love working with youth, the Rotary overall has some great programs that can assist you with that. We’re open to any student, and we also don’t have membership fees.

Edited for length and clarity.

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