Education for future service
Living and working in the heart of New York City is a long way from RJC’s classrooms and dorms.
But some of Laura Ayers’ experiences in Rosthern helped lead her to where she is today: volunteering for a year in Manhattan with New York Cares while applying for law school.
While social justice has always been an interest, Laura sees connections between her time at RJC and the desire to go into law.
Her experiences with the Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities weeks helped encourage her interest in service: over her three years she travelled to Saskatoon, Alabama and Guatemala. The time in Saskatoon where students spent the day downtown and met some of the cities low income people was particularly impactful. “That definitely was a turning point for me. It makes you recognize your privilege a little bit,” she says. “The ASLO service weeks are a really interesting opportunity that you don’t get at many other public schools.”
After graduation, Laura attended the University of Saskatchewan before transferring to the University of Ottawa to focus on political studies and communications. It was during a class on the constitution that Laura developed her interest in studying law, specifically wanting to focus on Indigenous Law. “If I am able to take my background in politics and work as a mediator between Indigenous groups and government towards reconciliation, that’s kind of the end goal for me.”
While she is applying to law school Laura is spending the year volunteering through Mennonite Voluntary Service at a non-profit called New York Cares.
The organization works to match up people in the city in need with individual or corporate donors who can help. She’ll spend the first part of the year working on the Winter Wishes program where kids submit letters with Christmas wishes and she’ll match them with donors who can grant the wish.
Then she’ll spend the second half of the year focused on education projects. “I thought it would
be a really good opportunity to use my communications degree to get some practice,” Laura says of her choice to serve with New York Cares, “and I think it’s really interesting how they can take two different stakeholders on opposite ends of the spectrum and kind of mesh them together to hopefully
create a bit more understanding.”
While some people may be anxious about how attending a small school like RJC could impact their future, Laura found it helped develop skills that have served her well.
“I think that RJC though it’s a small school, or because it’s a small school, really creates an open connection between the teachers and students. I felt I was able to express my opinions and express my doubts or questions without judgement or without fear,” she says. “I do think the emphasis on service has definitely shaped the way that I wanted to go.”