Growing up in Chongqing China, Grace Wu attended a Canadian international school and knew she would go to university in Canada. But it wasn’t until she heard about the Take the Lead speaking contest that Brescia came into focus. She wrote a speech about the Mosuo, a small ethnic group living in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces that is the only matriarchal society in China. She was selected as a finalist and traveled to Brescia to deliver the speech in person. Says Grace, “When I got there, I was instantly inspired by all the speakers and by Brescia’s mission to build generations of women leaders. I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.”
She certainly did that, getting involved in a wide variety of University and community activities and in the process becoming an inspiration and role model for others.
Poised to become part of the first graduating class in the Non-profit Management degree program, Grace received one of the inaugural BresciaLEAD Excellence Awards, made possible through Brescia’s fundraising gala. She also worked with Brescia’s bridging program for international students, mentored international students, served as a Student Ambassador, and organized the You Go Global Leaders event, featuring a keynote address by politician Olivia Chow. She worked as Brescia’s Social Media Student and as a Digital Marketing Assistant at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. Along the way, she found time to volunteer with organizations such as Pillar Nonprofit Network, Museum London, the Cross-Cultural Learner Centre and the London Youth Advisory Council.
In the summer of 2018, she was selected to participate in a unique experiential learning opportunity, the Francolini Leadership program. She and another Brescia student spent four months working on RBC’s Future Launch, a philanthropic program designed to address the “quiet crisis” in youth employment. The goals of the internship were to raise awareness among RBC employees in the London area and plan a Future Launch event with at least 200 attendees. Both were achieved.
For Grace, the program was an opportunity to learn more about herself as a leader, and about career opportunities. “Before the placement I thought I could only work at a not-for-profit organization,” she says. “Now I realize that there are lots of social responsibility jobs in the for-profit world.”
Grace admits that she didn’t feel like a leader when she arrived at Brescia but says she has learned that leadership can be developed. “I think I am a good leader now because I have a balance of humanity and confidence. I’m forward thinking, and I do the best I can to show people I care.”
Armed with her new skills and confidence, Grace wants to return to China to advocate for vulnerable populations. Eventually she envisions a career in politics, an opportunity to create change on a large scale. Says Grace, “I believe with all my heart that the future of the world depends on bold leaders who insist on women’s rights and social justice, every day.”