Published in The Intelligencer
By Loyalist Journalism – Online, Print and Broadcast student Greg Murphy
Loyalist College is pleased to host the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program on campus this week from May 3 to May 8. Youth between the ages of 19 and 25 are living on campus, taking part in weeklong activities intended to facilitate the development of their leadership skills and to establish a greater awareness of themselves and respect for others. The program is sponsored by Rotary Clubs within District 7070, which stretches between Toronto and Belleville. Participants are sponsored by local Rotary Clubs, and selection is based on leadership qualities they’ve demonstrated in their communities.
Loyalist General Arts and Science student Kayla Egas was chosen to participate based on leadership qualities she exhibited while on a youth exchange program in South America. “I’m excited because I don’t quite know what’s going to happen in the days ahead,” she said. The week’s activities have been as challenging as they’ve been rewarding. “We are all leaders. It’s interesting because people are expressing their opinions on how to tackle the challenges,” said Kayla. “But because everyone is such a great leader, we will figure things out together. What a learning experience.”
Zachary Shunock was also selected as a participant. Zachary, who graduated from the College’s Photojournalism program last year and who now works as a digital media editor at Oeno Gallery in Prince Edward County, said self-awareness is an important theme in the program. “I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and other things as well. It’s refreshing to see that there are organizations in the area like Rotary investing in the younger generation’s future,” he said. Zachary’s employer recommended him to the local Rotary Club to participate in RYLA.
Program coordinator Mary Wetzel said it’s been a great week on campus. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of feedback and a lot of great ideas generating among the group,” she said, adding that the College community has been the perfect vessel for the program. “We’re very grateful to Loyalist. The College has always been so welcoming. Everyone from the catering staff to Residence staff has always been very flexible and accommodating,” she said.
If chosen to take part, Kayla said RYLA is an opportunity not to be missed. “Take the initiative. Lead people. Let others around you speak up to make sure that those who aren’t always heard are being heard.”
Participants at the start of the week joined in classroom discussions where they learned about communication and self-awareness through personal strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. In the days ahead, RYLA participants will go to the Gleaners Food Bank in Belleville to help run their daily operations in preparation for the summer ahead. There, the participants will learn how to assist communities in need.