Introducing the MSA Board of Directors: The Executive Committee

In the first blog post of the MSA’s ‘Introducing the MSA Board of Directors’ series, we introduced the current President – Sheldon Coombs. Now we are going to introduce you to the rest of the Executive Committee which, along with the President, is made up of the Vice President, Internal Advocacy, the Vice President, External Advocacy, and the Vice President, Finance.


First, let’s meet the Vice President, Internal Advocacy – Garrett Blair.


Garrett Blair is the current Vice President, Internal Advocacy at the MSA.

Tell Mohawk students a little bit about their current MSA Vice President, Internal Advocacy:

Hey everyone! My name is Garrett Blair, and I am currently the Vice President of Internal Advocacy! I was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, moved to Kitchener when I was three and settled in Cambridge when I was four, where I currently live.


I am in Child and Youth Care here at Fennell. I am in my third semester and hoping to graduate and work in a school system. I love reading, watching Netflix, going on drives and going shopping with money I do not have. I think Mohawk is the best college, and I am so honoured to have been elected by the students.



What exactly does your job entail?

As Vice President of Internal Advocacy, my job is all about representing the students on issues and ideas pertaining to the inside of Mohawk College. This includes the Student Representative Committees, Academic Appeals and spaces within the MSA.


My job is also to listen. That is the core of my job, to listen to the students of Mohawk College, and work with all of you to come up with solutions and next steps. It has been my honour to do this, and I look forward to doing it more.


What is the overall atmosphere of being on the Board of Directors like?

The Board is like my family away from family. We push each other, get on each other’s nerves but more importantly, we support each other. Through our struggles and triumphs, we are there for each other.


The board has taught me how to express myself better. I believe that the Board has given me the confidence to be my unapologetic self, and has helped me advocate for the students better. We have so many bright minds, and the thinking that goes on with us has been so interesting to see. We all come from different backgrounds, and we have been able to come together in the face of adversity to create something worthwhile here.


What has been your biggest accomplishment within the Board?

Where do I begin? From Democratic reforms, to giving our students more exposure to the people running to represent them on Student Government, to bringing your concerns to the Board of Directors, to working on accessibility concerns pertaining to students, right to having someone stop me in the hall and ask for help. It is reasons like this that I decided to run, and it is my promise to you to never stop asking the tough questions. I have heard so many student stories, and the fact that students open up to me is so humbling.


How do you think being a Board Member will help you in the future?

It has easily been the best networking opportunity of my life. The people I get to meet and make connections with have been amazing.


Getting to network with people around the community is also great for future job potential as well. Being a part of this Board has been so rewarding in terms of making friends as well, both with the students, staff, and Board. Down the road, I can see keeping these connections for life, as I have met some extraordinary people, and I look forward to meeting more as my term progresses.


Now, let’s meet the Vice President, External Advocacy – Brayden Spjuth.


Brayden Spjuth is the current Vice President, External Advocacy at the MSA.

Tell Mohawk students a little bit about their current Vice President, External Advocacy:

I’m a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing collaborative program between McMaster and Mohawk. My hobbies include studying, crying about studying, and more studying.


What exactly does your job entail?

I'm the Vice President of External Advocacy - this basically just means I get to yell at the government on behalf of the students. Just kidding... kind of.


External advocacy pertains to anything that affects students but comes from outside of the college. Examples include the OSAP changes and the Student Choice Initiative. I'm tasked with lobbying for change and ensuring that students are getting an adequate amount of consultation and consideration when it comes to big choices that affect them. If they don't; well that’s where the yelling at the government comes in.


What made you want to apply for this position?

I’ve been a member of the Board for three terms in a row now. When we did a (long-overdue) revamp of our board structure last year, this was a brand new role that was being introduced. I wanted to be the person that helped the position blossom into something truly wonderful for the students.


This was right in the middle of when the government announced the brand new OSAP changes and the Student Choice Initiative. I knew I had the potential to make a real difference; so that just reinforced my desire to run for the position.


What are you hoping to achieve during your time on the Board in this position?

As I said before, I would like to help this position blossom into one that is taken very seriously inside and outside of the college.


As a student Association, we speak for our members and have a right to take up space at tables where our futures are being discussed. I’d like Mohawk College to solidify their position at these tables. I’d also like to strategically address the impacts of the OSAP changes on the students of Ontario.


What has been the most rewarding part of your job so far?

Seeing the number of students that went out to vote this year.


The MSA ran a ‘get out and vote’ campaign and I saw it as very successful.


While I’d love to think that my MSA campaign made all the difference, student associations and youth groups across Canada did a significant part in encouraging students to vote this year [2019]. I was honoured to be apart of this.


What do you want students to know about the MSA and your position on the Board?

Don’t be afraid of getting involved! The MSA has given me so many cool new experiences that I would have never otherwise had if I hadn’t have taken the leap and joined in that first term. Elections are coming up very soon, so if anything you’re reading today interests you, be sure to run for a position on the Board of Directors.


I don’t care whether it’s with the MSA or with a club that you and a few friends are interested in, get out and have fun outside of college classes. College is hard enough, make sure you’re getting out there and making memories.


Lastly, let’s meet the Vice President, Finance – Gregory McNeish.


Gregory McNeish is the current Vice President, Finance.

Tell Mohawk students a little bit about their current Vice President, Finance:

Leadership is my passion. I worked for five years as a primary shift supervisor at a local Tim Hortons where I got the opportunity to be the very first boss for several teenagers. It was an amazing experience to see them grow as workers and as people, and I took my role seriously in helping them develop from scared kids to confident young adults. That’s what led me to Mohawk, where I’m in my final year studying Business Administration. I’m learning here how to take what I did on a small scale with those teens, and do it on a bigger scale with a large organization.


What exactly does your role entail?

I make sure that every dollar collected in student fees is spent wisely and responsibly for the benefit of all students. Working with an amazing team of accounting professionals, I ensure that the MSA is first and foremost a student-led organization. Highlights of the role include leading the budget process, reporting results to the Board and to students at the Annual General Meeting, and reviewing proposals from the college on all fees that they charge to students.


What has been the most rewarding part of your job so far?

The most rewarding part of the job, without question, is getting to see the difference the MSA makes in students’ lives. It puts a smile on my face every time I see a student picking up dress clothes from the career closet, getting their Presto card, or attending events. My day-to-day job with the MSA involves participating in a lot of meetings, reading a lot of reports, and spending too long staring at computer screens. I honestly cannot put into words how wonderful it is to have that constant feedback to know that what we do really does improve the lives of students. What could be better than that?


What is the overall atmosphere of the MSA Board of Directors?

The MSA is such a fun place to work. I love getting the chance to work with so many awesome people, from the managers, to the creative team, to the administrative staff, to all the part-time students working everywhere in the organization, and of course the food and event teams. Everywhere you turn, there’s a smiling face, a ready laugh, and also a caring, dedicated worker who is passionate about finding new ways to help students. I’ve worked a lot of jobs in a lot of places, with a lot of different people, and I’ve never worked been in an environment that is so inspiring to come to every day. It’s incredible.


What do you want students to know about the MSA and your position on the Board?

I want students to know that we really do want to hear from you! If you see a problem – anywhere in the college – let us know about it. Is there a resource on campus you’d like to see that isn’t there now? Let us know! Did an event happen that you didn’t know about until it was too late? Let us know! Whatever it is, please let us know. We need your help to know what problems exist so that we can get to work solving them. Life is a team sport. Lean on WE!


Note: Some comments have been edited for clarity.


Stay tuned for the next blog post in the ‘Introducing the MSA Board of Directors’ series!


Check out the MSA's previous blog post: The MSA's Annual General Meeting (AGM): A Year in Review

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