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The story of "Humans of Ontario Tech"

May 6, 2020

Where it all started

I’m in my last semester of Communications and Digital Media Studies at Ontario Tech University. One of the final courses I took was COMM 4610U, Communication & Conflict, Nonviolent Communication and Peace. In this course, professor Sharon Lauricella implemented a final project that allowed us to do anything we wanted, as long as it related to nonviolence or peace. This was the beginning of Humans of Ontario Tech. 

What I planned

I wanted to focus on peace and building community. I believe that compassion and empathy are keys to building a more connected society. Therefore, I needed to find a way to connect our students, staff, and faculty. Inspired by Humans of New York, I wanted to showcase students in our university community and have them tell their stories. My friend/colleague Matt Wilson also collaborated on this project to find the stories of staff and faculty at our university. We then created the Humans of Ontario Tech Instagram page to post all of our collected stories from university community members. 

What happened

Throughout February & March, I was able to collect the stories of eight students on campus, and Matt collected four faculty members’ stories. However, our project hit a huge barrier with COVID-19 closing our university. This stopped us from collecting new stories with people on campus. We wrote our final reflections for this assignment, and I even made a final post for myself on the Instagram page. It was a soft ending to our project. As a graduating student, this is not the way I planned to end my four years of university. I never knew the last lecture I attended on a random Tuesday would be my last, and that I wouldn’t be seeing my friends on campus ever again.

The COVID-19 shutdown and reboot

I couldn’t sit back and let this be the end. As an extrovert, I need my social interactions! I love meeting new people and hanging out with friends. Then it hit me. This project was supposed to build community, and it still could. I wanted to keep sharing the stories and messages of people in our university community, and what better time to than now. I modified my approach to gathering students and stories online. As everyone has a little more time on their hands while physical distancing, I asked friends and leads to write their own posts about something personal to them. 

Moving forward during COVID-19

A small class project turned into an outlet for me to continue to meet other students on campus, while giving all university platforms a chance to see “get to know” others in our community. There are so many amazing people at our university, with so many different experiences, stories, knowledge, and messages. I don’t want COVID-19 to disconnect us from our university community or the world around us. 

I’m so glad that my class project was able to turn into a university wide platform. It is also a nice final project to finish off my university journey. I encourage everyone to check it out, as there are lots of interesting people and stories. While writing this article, the Humans of Ontario Tech Instagram page has 91 followers, which I believe is larger than the COMM 4610 class it started in. The page is followed and has shared the stories of students from all different faculties, programs, and years. I would love to continue this page and plan to do so for as long as I can, and potentially pass it on to a future student. 

If you’d like to share your story or message to the world, feel free to reach out to me at or on Instagram via private messages @humansofontariotech.


View this post on Instagram

“I’m an extrovert, and the thing I feared most about coming to Ontario Tech was that we are a commuter school. In my first year, I felt as though everyone just came to class and went home right after. However, in my second, third, and fourth year, I had plenty of opportunities to get more involved on campus. I met some amazing people, found a passion for building my network & building community as a whole. I had a feeling there were tons of amazing people at our university, but I didn’t know how I would have the time to meet each and every person. In my final semester I took COMM 4610 where we were given the freedom to do a non-violent communication project. I knew right away that my goal would be to build peace, empathy, and compassion in our world. As the world around us tends to seem dark at times, I wanted create light by bringing people together. The best way to do that was to share the stories to connect us with one another. Along came @humansofontariotech . Inspired off of @humansofny , I wanted to share the stories of students at our university. Another classmate was doing a similar project with staff & faculty members, so they also posted some of their wise words. This project allowed me to meet some amazing people, and learn some new things about people I was already acquainted with. There are so many stories to be told, and I’m happy I got to share these eight. With that in mind, I am happy to continue sharing the stories and messages from our Ontario Tech community members. I’m sure a lot of us need something to do during quarantine anyway. If you’d like to share your story, please feel free to private message this account with your quote & head shot. Although I am a soon to be graduate, I would love to meet all of the wonderful people at our university!” . . . Roger Ragoonath Communications & Digital Media Studies Fourth Year

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