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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
July 28, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Kandice Baptiste, Staff



Kandice Baptiste (BA ‘11), a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in southeastern Ontario, always knew she wanted to do something different. Not only did Baptiste become the first person in her family to attend and graduate from university, but in her new role at Laurier she is now inspiring other Aboriginal students to go to university.

Recruited to play varsity basketball, Baptiste came to the university’s Waterloo campus in 2006. It was a difficult first year. Like many students, she struggled to adjust to her program. She was also very homesick.

“At the time, there was nothing at Laurier for Aboriginal students,” said Baptiste. “I felt like I was the only one. I thought, ‘I’ll just have to figure it out by myself and adjust how I can.’”

When she returned for second year, she chose to focus on basketball and school. Around Christmas time during her fourth year, Baptiste decided to finish out her basketball career and not pursue a fifth year of eligibility. She began looking for her next goal, and that’s when she began thinking about creating the Aboriginal Student Association (ASA), which was officially established in 2010.

“The goal of the ASA is to give Aboriginal students a chance to get together and offer each other support,” she said.

Baptiste also interned for Laurier Waterloo’s Aboriginal Student Services, helping to plan events such as the inaugural Aboriginal Awareness Week at the university’s Waterloo campus. Then she heard about a new position – Aboriginal Students Recruitment and Retention Officer for the Waterloo and Brantford campuses. She interviewed and got the job, starting just a few weeks after her last exams.

Today she travels across Ontario and Canada talking to Aboriginal high school students. She is also working on plans to begin hosting weekly summer camps for Aboriginal youth at Laurier. The teenagers would get to attend classes, labs and experience all of the resources on campus.

“My goal is to introduce Aboriginal students to the possibility of going to university,” said Baptiste. “Hopefully they will learn it’s not this big scary place.”