How I Made It

Yana Titarenko, Student Leader

Yana Titarenko is a student union member at New Brunswick's Mount Allison University, and also works on the school's sexual harassment and assault response and education service. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Yana Titarenko

Where do you go to school and what are you studying?

I am currently in my fourth year at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick pursuing a bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in biology.

Tell me about us about your biggest accomplishment to date!

Being elected as the vice president of external affairs for the Mount Allison Students’ Union. It was the first time I was elected for a position with such a demanding mandate.

Can you describe a typical day, detailing everything you do from when you first get up to when you head back to bed?

As a student leader and a full-time student, I spend the majority of my afternoon working on my New Brunswick Student Alliance priorities for the year (sexual violence, international students and intersectionality), my Canadian Alliance of Student Associations priorities (equity, diversity and inclusion) and planning events for off-campus students. I also spend a couple hours a day on board conference calls or in committee meetings for the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education Service (SHARE) Peer Educator Group and Student Administrative Council. In the evenings, I volunteer as an athletic trainer for the Mounties Football team.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten in relation to following your dreams?

“You can’t do it all.” I think it’s important to keep trying new things and not to limit yourself, especially at such a young age!

Who is your favourite person to follow on social media? What do you love about them?

Sophia Bush—she has been my idol since I started watching One Tree Hill. Since then, she has become such an influential activist. She shows women that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to and constantly fights for equality.

When you enter the workforce in your chosen field, do you expect to be paid equally to male counterparts with similar education and experience? Why or why not?

Without a doubt. I hope that by the time I am working in my field, everyone—no matter their age, gender, race or identity—is paid fairly.

What’s the number one biggest issue facing young women your age in Canada right now? How can this be fixed/eliminated?

Sexual violence. As it stands, rape culture is the predominant culture on campuses around Canada. Through my work as the SHARE intern last year and my current work with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the New Brunswick Student Alliance, there are things that need to be done on the provincial and federal level to fix this issue. Education is key when it comes to prevention—this needs to start as soon as teachers begin talking about sex ed and consent needs to be at the centre of these discussions. On top of education, improved support services, standalone policies, specialized reporting processes and awareness campaigns are just a few of the major things that need to be done.

What’s your best piece of advice for other young women who want to make a difference in the world?

Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone in a room full of white men.

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