Two seemingly simple questions

Fall 2013

Jonah Zankl

Schulich Leader at University of Calgary

What does success look like to you?
What are you looking for out of your university experience?

Two seemingly simple questions, and 13 weeks later I have yet to answer them; I feel as if 5 years (give or take) from now when I may or may not be finished my academic career I will still be asking myself these questions. Luckily, the University of Calgary is providing opportunity to seek out the answers to both. It is hard to think that an entire semester has gone past. The first of many. A small step along the journey.

This semester, despite having a heavy courseload, I sought out a way to engage in the community: my new community. The University of Calgary Solar Car Team (calgarysolarcar.ca) has provided that opportunity. Being involved in one of the largest student projects on campus has allowed for an experience like no other. There is nothing like seeing what the future may hold, albeit one revolving around carbon fiber and solar arrays – neither of which I know anything about –, to invigorate you to be involved in something big!

What was more exciting was seeing the revelry in the eyes of students from Vista Heights Elementary School when they got see the car; it has been a long time since I have seen youth so excited about what their future could look like. Even at such a young age they have recognized the need for sustainability and a fundamental shift in our energy reliance. I have reflected on their excitement about the future and have come to the conclusion that if we can harness the incredible energy and tenacity of youth in a small community, the change can be astronomical. To embrace even a small part of their energy has been rewarding for me.

I challenge you to take a minute, or a week, or two months like I have to envision what success is for yourself. This introspection with the help of my mentor for the year, Vice-President (Development) Gary Durbeniuk, has been an opportunity to reflect on what is important to me and how to find ways to embrace projects that match these values.

As for finding what I want out of my university experience? That one may have to wait until I am done studying.