“Overall, it was an inspiring feeling to be seated in the same room as some of the most important business and political leaders in our community.”
Written by: Cam Galindo
Political Science Level IV
On June 21st I attended the Bay Area Economic Summit hosted by the Hamilton and Burlington Chambers of Commerce at the Royal Botanical Gardens. The cost of attending was covered by an experiential grant called the Hamilton Matters Fund offered through the Office of Experiential Education in the Faculty of Social Sciences. The theme of this year’s Bay Area Economic Summit was “Leading Change in a Regional Age”. The idea was to further strengthen the cooperation between neighbouring communities as shared interested are advanced in a global economy.
Discussion topics included world economic trends, inspiring stories of regional collaboration, driving innovation in the public and private sectors, and lots more. Much of the information was conveyed through panel discussions, breakout sessions, and several key note presentations. The conference took place throughout the entire day, and concluded with an address from the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne.
Her speech touched upon several points including the importance of local businesses and organizations working together to achieve similar goals. Not surprisingly, the Premier reinforced her support for Light Rail Transit in Hamilton and other transportation infrastructure projects in the GTHA that include the expansion of the GO Transit system. She even spoke to her government’s commitment to provide free tuition to low income families by mentioning that, “Brainpower is not determined by a family’s purchasing power.” Thus, once again reinforcing her government’s commitment to creating equal opportunities for students. Overall, it was an inspiring feeling to be seated in the same room as some of the most important business and political leaders in our community.
As a fourth year Political Science major, this particular conference was of interest to me because not only am I completing a minor in economics, but I will also be graduating with a Business Studies Affiliated Certificate from McMaster/Mohawk. A program that is meant to enhance my Social Sciences degree with practical and applied skills that will prepare me for “real-world” challenges and opportunities. The event was a great opportunity for myself, as a university student, to network with local business leaders and decision makers, to learn about the opportunities that are out there for young ambitious people like myself who want to change the world, but also to find a job first.
My experience at the Bay Area Economic Summit speaks to the importance of experiential education in helping students such as myself make note of what the real world holds for us once we graduate. I certainly encourage my peers and other students to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there, and experience the real-world before graduating.
*Photo by Dawn Unwin
Three other Social Sciences students were sponsored by EE to attend the Bay Area Economic Summit. Here’s what they had to say:
Shawnee Matinnia, Religious Studies
“As a student, one might think this summit would not be applicable; however those individuals would be quite wrong. As a student of McMaster university, and as a person provided the opportunity to attend the summit, I find it very important to learn more about advancing the Bay Area, as well as have my voice heard while representing young leaders in the area.”
Chris Ritsma, Political Science
“Having wanted to be involved in politics since secondary school, this event increased my drive to be involved. I would love to maintain the connections I have made with the Mayor, and meet more people involved in constructing and growing our community. These people’s expertise is invaluable, as is the schooling I am receiving. Experience and education have gone together in this situation and complemented each other.”
Dawn Unwin, Indigenous Studies
“Connecting with multilevel governing leaders, learning from industry professionals, and inspiring dialogues between the four areas of representation at the Summit can engage cultural change and empower responsible economic initiatives. As a student in Indigenous Studies at McMaster University, a resident of Hamilton, and an individual that embraces a holistic position with people, place, and prosperity for community, this Summit is an excellent beginning to build on.”