Seneca Student’s Visit to Ottawa A Sweet Experience
Natalia Toussaint is no stranger to Parliament Hill.
In fact, the Government Relations (GR) student, who grew up in Canada’s capital city, fondly recalls taking elementary school fieldtrips to ‘The Hill.’
Fast-forward to the week of Sunday, October 21st, 2018, and the now 29-year-old Toussaint is once again visiting Parliament Hill; this time, as part of an experiential learning opportunity offered through her graduate certificate program at Seneca.
For Toussaint, the trip to Ottawa was a logical progression for herself and her classmates.
“In [the] Government Relations [program], we do a lot with our electoral representatives, both municipally and provincially. Ottawa was the next natural step to try to merge ourselves federally,” Toussaint says.
Parliament Hill has been described as “the political and cultural heart of Canada's Capital.”1
The Student Experience Fund, facilitated by the Seneca Alumni Affinity Program (SAAP), grants students the chance to go beyond a basic tour of the capital to actually meet and form connections with the likes of Senator E. Percy Downe, Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger, and Philip Cartwright, Senior Vice President at Global Public Affairs.
For Sebastian Perez, one of Toussaint’s classmates, the ability to foster those kind of connections helped him envision his own career.
“Without a doubt, my favourite moment of the trip was visiting the offices of the Global Public Affairs. All of the employees who spoke to us were young professionals like ourselves [who] gave us a sense of confidence that we could be in their shoes soon,” Perez reminisces.
Amongst a sea of successful and influential connections, the GR students also met with two Seneca alumni; Vassy Kapelos, host of CBC’s Power & Politics, and Jessica Brandon-Jepp, Advocacy & Government Relations, Canadian Credit Union Association (Brandon-Jepp is actually a 2015 graduate of Toussaint’s own program).
While the experience wasn’t the juvenile fieldtrip of Toussaint’s past, she still allowed herself a moment of playfulness in Canada’s capital city during a stop at CN Rail.
“They had a train bell in [their] office,” Toussaint starts.
“So I asked if I could ring [it]. I didn’t expect it to be so loud!” she says, laughing.
The two-day Ottawa visit was condensed, brimming with the opportunity to move beyond the walls of the traditional college classroom.
In many ways, it was manifestation of where a Seneca education can take you.
Regrettably, the students did not have a chance to grab a fried, icing-sugared BeaverTail in ByWard Market, but the opportunity for experiential learning was, in itself, pretty sweet.