Friday, 11 April 2014

Leading Questions: Part 1

With the last week of classes here, it’s time to start finishing up our final papers, putting the finishing touches on our assignments, power reading the final few chapters of our text books, and getting ready for exams…. AND, I’m going to suggest that we take a few moments to try and really appreciate the people that we’ve had around us all year. We are fortunate enough to have strong and positive community of students in our classrooms, residences, student groups, and in student governance. Each one of us contributes to our campus, and hopefully we have each been able to positively impact one another. 

This week, YouAlberta will be celebrating a few of the individuals who have made an effort to improve your student experience this year. Some might call these individuals leaders, others might simply see them as that face that they see around campus, while others still would just call them “friend.” 

Here's a look at one of our student leaders:

Emerson Csorba - Student Leader

Haaave you heard of Emerson? If you've been at the U of A in the last three or four years, then you'll likely say yes. And if you haven't heard of him, you will. (Especially if you keep reading this article...)

Emerson Csorba is the founder of Gen Y Inc. and The Wanderer Online, the co-editor of Leading U: Inspirational Stories from UAlberta Alumni and Students, the former SU Vice President (Academic), one of the many athletes you'll see running across campus in his toe shoes, and he's a student. I sat down with the always busy Emerson to understand what motivates him to do so much and to learn how he does it without the aid of Hermione Granger’s time-turner.

Our interview began with a question that perplexes so many of us: given the demands placed on students (i.e. a high GPA, paying for school, work, social lives, and the expectations of yourself and others) why on earth would someone want to take on more responsibility than they absolutely have to?  

The answer is simple for Emerson- "it becomes addictive."

Even if you don’t know Emerson personally, I’m fairly confident you’ve heard his name somewhere. His busy schedule and frantic pace is matched only by his unrelenting drive. He explains: "For me, I'm the first one in my family to be going to university and that really drives me. I want to set a high standard and take advantage of all the opportunities that I have but –“ he pointed out to me, “there are different things that drive everyone." 

Making Connections

So if everyone has different motivations for wanting to get involved, how should they even start? Emerson’s told me that his suggestion is to “establish your baseline interests and get engaged with a little bit of specialization, which for me was writing. Then you build on that: I focused on governance and student issues and then that manifested itself in the SU. Through my connections with the SU, the Wanderer Online started which really connects to that love of writing I had at the start of university. Finally all of that spawned into Gen Y Inc which is really just making a business out of all of it." 

Regardless of the trajectory that one takes, the most unique facet of leadership on campus is that it is heavily self-motivated. Unlike the professional world where a great deal of obligation can come from superiors, leadership on campus is almost entirely self-directed. Despite the personal nature of this motivation, however, it is also inspired by the energy present in the campus community. "It's the community that motivates me and the community that makes great things happen,” Emerson told me with a smile spread wide across his face, “but there's a lot of initiative needed by the individual. Studying alone could consume what you're doing in life but I'm really impressed by all the people that begin their own startup or establish a non-profit or get involved with the SU on top of everything else they're doing. That initiative is a really important part of the university experience." 

On the way up - Emerson Csorba

So much of the learning that occurs at the U of A takes place beyond the classroom and the skills and knowledge that we gain inside the classroom and outside of it have widespread effects. "The people that emerge from the U of A go on to do lots of great things around the city,” said Emerson with pride. “The things that people are learning and the experiences they have are leading to companies or to non-profits or to different initiatives across Edmonton. If you look at a lot of the really innovative businesses, there's some connection to the University." For Emerson, the motivation to be a leader comes from not only going on to do bigger and better things but also by inspiring others to do the same: "I like seeing others have those 'a-ha moments' when they realize that there's something that they love and that they're working on something they want to pursue." 


About the Author

Hello there! I'm Trenton and I'm super excited to be a YouAlberta Student Communicator. Though I spend a staggering amount of my time thinking about a syllabus for an imaginary Batman 101 class, my major is actually Political Science. I love to read, eat, and play around in Photoshop (sometimes all at once). If you're ever looking for someone to debate about a variety of nerdy topics, I'm your man.

It is my hope to tell a wide array of stories about the sides of campus life and student life that may not be immediately apparent. In doing this, I want to showcase the diversity, passion, and community at the U of A that constantly inspires me. My time at the U of A has been truly trans-formative and, as I enter my final year here, I can't wait to listen to and tell stories about the University and its students.


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