This week we have a special guest blog post from Lily Akagbosu, former President of the Carleton University Students’ Association.

In Lily’s time on the Student Union, she witnessed the unique and innovative ways student groups rise to meet new challenges. She writes that this flexibility has become imperative to not only meet the challenges posed by the pandemic, but to embrace this moment as an opportunity to usher in a more inclusive, resilient education system.

It is no secret that we all learn differently – virtual education works well for some, and will not work as well for others. However, I think that if we approach this year with the innovation our generation is known for, the school year can pave the way for a more resilient and inclusive education system.

Classes are different, but that doesn’t mean students should be left behind or at a complete disadvantage than previous cohorts of students. In fact, the pandemic has forced novel adaptation that has made us question established approaches to education and transitions to employment from school. This change comes with a heightened recognition of the inequalities inherent in our systems.

The pandemic has forced novel adaptation that has made us question established approaches to education and transitions to employment from school

For too long, students with disabilities, mature students, and many other marginalized student groups have needed flexible and accommodating channels to navigate academia, yet many institutions have been complacent in their solutions. Thus, the need for an adaptation due to a critical mass of people being affected has helped open the way for more durable solutions to foster an inclusive education environment where every student can thrive.

Technology will be key this year – not only in delivering lectures or coordinating support services, but also in continuing to foster a sense of community and that classic school spirit. When I served as President of the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA), my first challenge was leading our organization to adapt to the Ontario Government’s Student Choice Initiative which deemed ancillary fees such as ours optional. We rose to the challenge and ensured our students were still able to access the quality of service they deserve while managing the uncertainty of our finances.

The need for an adaptation due to a critical mass of people being affected has helped open the way for more durable solutions to foster an inclusive education environment where every student can thrive.

Organizations on the Carleton campus have been rising to the challenge – like our CU Smile club providing meal deliveries and going to graduating students’ doorsteps to provide them with a custom convocation ceremony, and Nimbus Learning, an online tutoring platform that ensures students can continue to receive personalized support – even from opposite sides of the country.

As students, we have our work cut out for us this year to not only succeed at our own education, but to also ensure that our entire cohort receives the support they need to excel in a rapidly changing environment. By harnessing new technology and the problem solving skills of the next generation of students, we now have the opportunity to usher in an era of a stronger, more equitable approach to post-secondary education.

Lily Akagbosu is a former President of the Carleton University Students’ Association and recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a degree in Women and Gender studies. 

Nimbus Learning now offers an online tutoring platform which allows students virtual access to academic support and mentorship. Click here to find out more.

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