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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Student Leadership Showcase: Charelle Milandu

September 29, 2022

The Peer Leader Program is a peer-mentoring initiative that supports student success and engagement through fostering peer relationships that contribute to the strong sense of community and vibrant campus culture at Ontario Tech University. 

Charelle Milandu was selected as the Peer Leader of the Month due to her unparalleled excitement and engagement in the days leading up to Orientation preparation. I interviewed her and she has a lot to say about her experience as a Peer Leader. 

Why did you decide to be a PL?

Okay, so I've always wanted to be a peer leader.  I am an energetic person who strives to make others feel included and welcome. 

Although, we also used to have a peer leader program at my high school, and I always knew I wanted to get involved. I didn't have the chance to do it in high school but I just thought it'd be good to do this at some point in my life. Once I discovered that this university facilitated a Peer Leader Program, I signed up as soon as possible. 

How would you describe your experience as a PL? 

My overall experience as a Peer Leader has been positive. Working with more reserved students is one of the more difficult areas that my mentees are working on. It's tricky since some students prefer not to answer and are more shy and reserved. So the other peer leaders and I would state that we want to help them, but I can't do that if you don't meet me halfway. I emphasize that the students must let me and the others know what they need help with, and after that, we would be more than happy to collaborate with them. As a result, this is one area in which I am actively attempting to collaborate with my mentees. Other than that, it's been really great. I think this year tops the other years though, just because I got to see everybody in person and I got to see their facial expressions and how they were feeling about certain things. But overall, it's a really good experience, I love meeting people, helping them feel welcomed and helping them find their way. So, yeah, I'm going to give it a five out of five, to be honest.

What were your goals going into Orientation?

My goal going into Orientation was to get the crowd pumped up, like you get them excited to do something, you know, to get them to break out of their shell. I didn't mind seeming like a total idiot if it helped them feel comfortable and made them want to get up and out of their shells. Just to make someone else want to be a leader, bring the energy to all the first years, and make them excited for university would be worth all of the hard work. My big goal would be for others to say, "Charelle, you did it so well; our whole faculty did Orientation so well. So I want to be Peer Leader too!"

What was the most memorable part of orientation? 

Even if we didn't win, it's okay since you already know we're all best friends, and it was a phenomenal experience watching the first years learn the chant. I liked watching all the new students smile and laugh at me because I was ridiculous, but it was worth it since it made them feel more at ease rather than nervous, which was my favourite part.

What did you learn from being a PL?

So far, I've learned how to have people trust you, depend on you and come to you for help. I also learned how to delegate my time a little bit better just because I want to be there for my first years, but I also need to be present in my classes, so it helped me realize the importance of time management. I told myself I must take things one at a time and do something with priority, but yeah, I think that's what I learned. How to manage my time a little bit better and still make the most of the time I spent with my mentees. 

How does the PL program relate to your personal/professional goals? 

Okay, so I've been trying to sort this out, but I think being a peer leader helps because it links to my goal of being a dentist. So, if you have someone less passionate about going to the dentist's office, or if you need a leader to stand up and do what they believe is good for the environment, I can be that leader. I believe that the traits I've learned as a Peer Leader will be beneficial because if you're ridiculous and unashamed, the person sitting on your chair at the dentist's will be at ease and say, "Oh, she's not that bad; she's kind of fun." making their trip to the dentist fun.

If you create a good environment to work in, then everybody's going to have a good time all the time, and there will not be any or at least limited conflicts. Patients would want to come in and be a part of the company in assisting its growth. So I think this is how the PL program would help facilitate my success as a dentist. 

How has the PL program helped you develop thus far? 

You'd never guess, but as a child or throughout high school, I was nervous. So I wanted to do things to help me come out of my shell a little bit and seeing the first years feel the same way I did all those years growing up and being able to help them come out of that a little bit encourages me. Everyone is scared, and they don't know what to do, but as long as you try to bring the energy and make them feel supported and welcome, everything will work out. As a result, I believe it has also shaped me as a person to strive to be the most excellent version of myself for others.

What are your goals for the 2022 -2023 academic year? 

My goals for 2022 are to get good grades and hopefully see one of our first years as a Peer Leader next year. Hopefully, I can see some of our first years reflected and think their time spent in the PL Program was enjoyable. I want to be able to do that for other people.

Would you recommend others be a PL, if so why?

 I would recommend other people to be Peer Leaders. I think it's so much fun. I know I'm saying that a lot, but that's my main thing, but you get to be ridiculous and watch everybody else have fun and to know that you're contributing to their fun and they feel welcomed. It's just that everybody feels included and welcome. Anyone can become a Peer Leader, and the opportunity is fun, as well as there are so many different initiatives you can put together. Let's say you enjoy singing like me; I like karaoke, and even though I can't sing, it doesn't matter. What matters is the energy and vibes you bring to these events and the program to give it life.

If you look back, is there anything you would change or work on?

Of course, there are things that I would like to work on. I feel like, in the beginning, it was kind of awkward. So I wish I had jumped into the opportunity a little sooner to make other people feel welcome. Also, I wish I didn't scream as much. I'm glad I screamed a lot because it gave everybody energy, but the morning after, I lost my voice and could not speak, haha!

How does it feel to be the PL of the month? 

My god, it feels like a tremendous honour to be the first PL of the month for 2022 - 2023. Earning this title just encourages me to be a better Peer Leader in the future and to do better for my first-year students throughout the semester. I was shocked as I was just doing my job and having a good time. We had fun, and then I got the email, and I was astonished but happy. I feel like it's an honour because many other Peer Leaders did such a great job, but just to know that everybody thought that I stood out enough to vote for me feels good. Thank you!

For additional information about the Peer Leader Program, please navigate through the FAQ section or email