As a recruitment officer who works with Indigenous youth considering post-secondary education, Daniel Kennedy (BA '13) has the opportunity to make a difference every day.
"Most days it doesn’t feel like I am coming to work," Kennedy says of his job at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. "I am just doing what I was meant to do.
"I want to work with First Nations people and particularly First Nations youth."
Growing up in a working-class family (his father worked in the rigging and machinery moving industry in Detroit), Kennedy originally thought he might follow in his father’s footsteps. But he and his siblings were encouraged by their parents to pursue post-secondary education.
"I come from a background where my parents don’t have any personal post-secondary experience," Kennedy says. "But my mom and dad always kind of pushed me toward university."
– Daniel Kenendy
Kennedy – who served both as the president and co-president of Laurier's Aboriginal Students Association – attended Laurier at a pivotal time for Indigenous Initiatives at the university. During the second half of his time working toward a sociology degree, the Indigenous Student Centre first opened its doors.
"The student centre didn’t come into existence until my third or fourth year, so a lot of the issues I had when I first entered school I kind of had to figure out on my own," he says. "But the centre being there for those last couple of years was good, really helpful."
Kennedy says he is especially grateful for the work of Laurier staff in the areas of Indigenous Studies and Indigenous student support.
"There is a lot of great staff at Laurier," Kennedy says. "Among them you have (manager of Indigenous student services) Melissa Ireland – I can only say good things about her. She just cares about the students and the impact she has on their lives is amazing. I aspire to create the same culture in my current role."
Kennedy – who recently returned to studies after enrolling in Laurier's online Masters of Social Work program – notes the significant number of Indigenous students who have gone on to success after graduation from Laurier.
"Twenty years from now I think there is going to be a lot of talk about what was in the water at Laurier in terms of graduating successful Indigenous students," he says. "These are people in roles who are starting to affect change and also in prominent positions at a young age."