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R2AC x AlumNav University Webinar, supported by #RisingYouth

300 students. Two days. A great impact.

Race to a Cure (commonly referred to as R2AC) has seen many exciting developments since its inception in late May; yet, of our greater highlights was the AlumNav x Race to a Cure University Webinar. Over a span two of days in August, R2AC hosted university students from a variety of popular programs across Canada to speak of their experiences and provide valuable advice to aspiring secondary school students. Undeniably, this webinar did not emerge in a vacuum. Let’s take a closer look at the developments leading up to this event.

The Lightbulb

In the weeks preceding the event, the R2AC leads (Palak Agarwal, Linda Duong, Sara Gehlaut, Olivia Ye, and I) sat down at one of our weekly meetings to brainstorm other interactive ways we could expand our impact as an organization that would create the biggest impact amongst our audience. Chief among these ideas was to combat the anxiety we felt as Grade 12 students in the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidently, everything would be operating differently this coming year, and among ourselves, we felt hesitant about how to tackle the challenges we would face in the coming months. More than anything, if we felt lost; thus, would our audience not have similar sentiments? R2AC’s weekly articles and initiatives are targeted towards Canadian youth, and it would not be unlikely to have some senior students in the mix. After much brainstorming, the idea to have a university webinar came forth.

Preparing for the Big Day

Immediately after the idea was established, we approached our senior advisors for their input on its implementation. Here at R2AC, we have strong interdepartmental relationships, and our senior advisors take both a leadership and mentoring role across all departments. Having connected with Donny Li, one of our HR advisors, he noted that he was connected to an organization called AlumNav - an organization that worked to assuage the questions of students in Ontario about university. From there, our idea was sent to AlumNav, who agreed that this aligned with their goals, and offered to connect us with some of their university mentors.

While we had panelists for the webinar, we lacked many of the tools necessary to execute this project, and we wanted to ensure the experience was as smooth as possible creating the greatest impact. This is where I come in. As an active member in my community, I was keenly aware of several programs and organizations that could help R2AC bring this project into fruition. At the top of mind was the #RisingYouth grant, offered by Taking it Global - an organization dedicated to highlighting youth creating change globally. From there, I filled out the application for a grant and hoped for the best.

The response from Taking it Global was immediate and positive. They were more than willing to support us in the development of our project, and provided us with a grant to purchase the tools necessary to run the webinar. In addition, they connected us to their alumni network and provided even more opportunities to help further the goals of R2AC in future. In all honesty, applying for the #RisingYouth grant was one of the greatest decisions I could have made for this project.

A snapshot from the webinar, with 200+ live viewers and even more offline viewers in the days following (Race to a Cure)


300 students. Two days. A great impact. Well-technically speaking, there was no quantitative evidence of a “great” impact. Luckily, numbers and raw data are not the only things that can measure impact. Following our webinar, the social department at R2AC engineered an optional feedback form for all participants. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many students saying they hoped we would hold similar events in future and that this had cleared up many of their previous misconceptions surrounding university.

For us leads, this webinar was similarly empowering. I cannot speak on behalf of the rest of my peers, but as a student in these unprecedented times, I feel much more relieved and confident about taking on the process of university admissions.

I am not 100% sure where I will be this time next year. However, with the help of this project, I know that I will be quite proud of where I am.

Featured image is from Race to a Cure.

Article Author: Rahma Osman

Article Editors: Olivia Ye, Edie Whittington