Brittany Barnes

    • 2016 Convocation Student Address

      June 7, 2016

      School of Communication

      Brittany BarnesThank you, Mr. Vice President.

      Good morning faculty, fellow graduates and audience. It’s an honour to be here today as the student speaker of the Capilano School of Business.

      Today I want to talk about two topics:

      To join Capilano University was a big challenge for me. A little less than 3 years ago I moved from Brazil to take a business program, left behind family, friends and everything that I was used to since I was born to try a new life in Canada.  My English was rusty and I wasn’t very confident about speaking another language in an academic environment. I was also worried about how I would perform after more than 6 years out of school and in a different country. I had cultural shock after my first semester; the Christmas of 2013 : I really missed my home town during those holidays. I must say that I underestimated the advice to take vitamin D, because as you may know the lack of sun is not really an issue in Brazil.

      After three years I can say with confidence that all those worries and challenges that I had were crucial for my success as a student at Capilano University, because they got me out of my comfort zone. Back then not even in my best dreams I would think I would be here today talking about my experience. Maybe if I had studied in Brazil I would never been given this honour.  In Canada I had to adapt, become better and move faster.  And you know what? It was great! So my message to all of you is simple: take and accept new challenges! Get out of your comfort zone! Apply for a job in another city, province or country!  Send an email to that company director that you were afraid to say hi to. Go ahead with that idea that you think is good. Try new things and your world will become much bigger, not just professionally, but also as a human being. And for those who are outside the comfort zone already, you have my profound admiration. I know it’s not easy sometimes. By the way, I want to also express the same admiration to those who have never used the cell phone data plan or who brought food from home.

      My daughter Sophia was born last year and that made me think more deeply about gender issues. Although in Canada more than half of university students who graduate in business programs are women, according to the most recent statistic available, from 2009, only 37% of management occupations were filled by women. I believe that people should be considered for a position regardless of gender. Many of us will be leaders tomorrow who can make decisions that can help change this situation. As citizens we can also support policies in that direction. My intention is to draw your attention and encourage you to do that. I’m proud to have studied in a university with many women in leadership positions and I’m also very happy to announce that my successor as president of the Case Competition Association is a woman, Claire Tallman.

      To finish I want to thank a few people: first faculty, especially some instructors, Ronald Wong, Robert Bruce, Ann Cederholm, Judith Watson and Andrea Eby; Ian Gordon, the best teammate that I had here; and also Nancy Tran – my years here were much better with them. My parents, who last week left Brazil for the first time in their lives and are here today. And especially my wife, Carolina, who supported, encouraged and advised me and, with my little one, are my inspirations to try to be better every day.

      Thank you very much.