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Julie and Leanne grin at the camera with their arms around each other. They are both wearing purple t-shirts saying 'Return of the Golden Hawks' on them.
Leanne Holland Brown (L) and Julie Guindon connect at the 2015 Laurier Homecoming football game

Paying it forward to the next generation: Julie Guindon’s (BA ’05) Laurier connection “makes me feel a sense of home”

For Julie Guindon (BA ’05), an exceptional student experience is about more than lectures, assignments and exams – it’s also about the lifelong relationships you form and the memories you make at university.

“Laurier was home for me, not only physically through the residence halls, but through the people, the relationships and the experiences,” she says. “All of these things had a hand in shaping who I would become as an adult.”

When Guindon first set foot on Laurier’s Waterloo campus as a prospective undergraduate student, she had a pretty good idea of what she wanted her student life to look like, even if she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to study. She knew she wanted to live in residence, and toured university campuses in Southern Ontario that had the residence options she was looking for. When she toured Laurier, everything clicked.

“I chose Laurier because it immediately felt like the right place for me,” she says. Little did she know that campus tour was Guindon’s first step on her path to a successful career in Student Affairs.

“I had been a really involved high-school student, so it was natural for me to look for ways to be involved at Laurier too,” Guindon says. “I was selected as University Place’s Residence Athletic Council representative and my student leadership journey, unbeknownst to me, took off.”

In addition to her involvement with the Residence Athletic Council, Guindon worked for three years as a residence life don and was involved in the Laurier Students’ Union. She loved the experience so much that after graduation, Guindon worked for five years as a residence life coordinator in Nova Scotia and Alberta.

“It’s been more than ten years since I moved back to Ontario and I’ve continued to work with students in a variety of areas in Student Affairs,” she says. “I’m still connected to many folks from Laurier who are also in the field, and it always makes me feel a sense of home.”

Guindon’s time at Laurier “without a doubt” helped shape the person she is today. Getting involved allowed her to work with her closest friends and gave her the opportunity to attend trips and make memories that wouldn’t be possible in later life. “How could you coordinate that many people to go away on a trip together now that we have careers and families?” she jokes.

But more than the social connections with her peers, the Laurier staff Guindon worked with as a student leader continue to shape who she is and the way she approaches her work.

“I spent my first two years as a student leader working closely with Leanne Holland Brown, both in the Residence Athletic Council and as a don in Bouckaert Hall,” Guindon says of Laurier’s former dean of students. “Leanne was one of the kindest and most caring people I’ve ever met, and someone who made me feel truly supported. She was my supervisor first, but she also became my friend and mentor, someone I aspire to be like.”

Leanne’s commitment to “make a difference for that one,” especially resonates with Guindon, and she says this guides her core values to this day.

In her work, Guindon has seen that it’s nearly impossible to have a great student experience, or even to concentrate on those lectures, assignments and exams, when you’re not sure where your next meal will come from or face an unforeseen financial crisis.

“Financial support can quite literally make the difference between a student being able to afford rent or groceries, or attend to an emergency situation,” Guindon says. “Student budgets are tight, and so many students struggle financially. Think about how $50 or even $100 would have made a difference for you as a young student.”

Guindon has taken inspiration from Leanne in her giving philosophy as well. While she volunteers her time and expertise to the Laurier community, Guindon has also donated to areas that help her feel connected to Laurier while supporting students’ wellbeing.

“I hope that what I can give can make a difference, even if it’s for one person,” she says. “Giving to Laurier also gives me a feeling of staying connected to a place and time that’s been so meaningful to me. I suppose it’s my way of giving back and paying it forward to the next generation.”

You can make a difference in a Laurier student’s life today with a gift to the Leanne Holland Brown Student Emergency Fund or to the Mini Market in support of food security on Laurier campuses.

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