Matt Boardman came to Mount Allison with one goal — football. Although he loved his football experience and his teammates, he quickly discovered that university offered much more. The classes he took, the people he met, and the advice he received from his professors introduced him to exciting new ideas that led to new opportunities. Boardman was even able to use this knowledge and passion in a summer job.
It started with advice from his football coach in his first year. After a discussion about the sort of things that Boardman was interested in, the coach suggested he pursue sociology.
“I chose sociology not really knowing what it was, but I tried it and I loved it.”
He not only enjoyed the discipline, but it inspired him.
“After my second year, I started taking courses that covered social inequality, youth criminalization, and I realized how youth can be disadvantaged based on their background or where they come from,” he says. “It also opened my mind to some of the issues we face in our world today.”
Boardman realized he would like to tackle some of these issues.
“I was really struggling with how I can make a difference. ‘How can I promote change?’ ‘How can I push people in the right direction?’”
For Boardman the answer was education. He took a number of courses with Cheryl Veinotte, a sociology professor, who also gave him career advice.
Boardman took Veinotte’s Cultural Competency (CC) course and a year after taking it, knowing his interest in education, she invited him to a Black History month event organized in partnership with the Department of Sociology, CC students, and Corrections Canada. He heard guest speaker Orlando Bowen talking about his youth organization One Voice, One Team. The organization runs programs to educate and empower youth and to develop leadership skills.
Boardman was instantly intrigued. He contacted Bowen and was offered a position for the summer working as a councillor.
“The cool thing about this youth organization is that it is giving back, inspiring, and creating safe spaces for youth to find their passion and harness their potential. I want to eventually be able to do something similar.”
As part of each CC class, Veinotte also invites guest speakers from various areas where sociology graduates typically find employment. These areas include social work, justice, education, health, and human services.
“I ask the speakers to talk about the trends they are seeing in their workplaces connected to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Speakers also provide strategies to help students develop cultural competency as they prepare to enter the workplace,” she says.
After working with One Voice, One Team, Veinotte invited Boardman back to talk to the class about this non-profit and their culturally-competent practices.
“The class loved it,” says Veinotte. “In their final project many were inspired by and included some sort of strategy that Matt spoke about. He has been a role model to that group.”
Boardman was also able to be a teaching assistant for the first-year sociology class.
“It exposed me to teaching, running my own class, and trying different techniques to connect with and reach students,” he says. “The person I was when I showed up on day one and the person I am now are miles apart. It is all growth.”
In September, Boardman will begin an education degree at Mount Saint Vincent University.