As a young international student from France, Jade Arignon was not allowed to work in Canada. Instead, she volunteered to gain experience, and when she was recruited to play basketball at Langara College, she hoped to continue her community involvement.
Arignon arrived on the West 49th Avenue campus in fall 2008 and sensed many of her fellow students were also willing volunteers. However, there seemed to be no place to go to find information and get involved at the time.
Working with Kinesiology student Warren Springer and Clayton Munro, the Dean of Student Services, she founded the VOLT Volunteer Program in 2010. VOLT’s mandate was to create community engagement, social awareness and student development through volunteerism.
Today, VOLT has grown to include over 3,000 student volunteers. VOLT volunteers are a fixture at Langara events, they welcome students onto campus, lead neighbourhood clean-ups, and support community organizations.
Arignon said the program has played a significant role in creating a stronger campus culture.
“When I was a student, Langara was a commuter school,” she said. “Students would come for classes and then leave. We asked ourselves — how can we get students engaged and encourage them to stay on campus?”
By enlisting student volunteers to lead school tours and help with orientations, for example, Arignon and her VOLT co-founders started seeing students stay on campus longer than two hours or so for each class.
“That’s also part of the reason why it turned into such a transformative program,” she added. “People started seeing volunteers on campus, so they got interested in volunteering, too. It created a community and a group for students to belong to.”
Arignon ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and now works as the administrative and operations lead at Urban Matters CCC, a social innovation company that helps communities deliver tangible solutions so that people can live happier and healthier lives.
She said she feels fortunate to be doing something directly related to her degree early in her career. In part, she credits her success to her experience co-founding VOLT.
“I work in a world where we’re trying to solve problems like the opioid overdose crisis and affordable housing,” she said. “At first, you may not see a solution, but I learned very early through VOLT that the power of an idea goes a long way.
“One idea matched with a passionate team can truly create positive change.”
About Langara College’s 49 Langarans Celebrating its 49th year on 49th Avenue, Langara is honouring 49 Langarans; those who are making an impact in the community and have helped shape the College into what it is today. From theatre directors and journalists to small business owners, community advocates, and dedicated employees – the stories of the award recipients are as varied as the College’s journey over the past 49 years.
Meet the 49 Langarans at beyond49.langara.ca