At 5:55 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, Megan Thomson was sitting in her bedroom staring at her phone, waiting for it to ring.
At 6:04 p.m. her phone rang. She hesitantly answered. At 6:05 p.m., she was officially the St. Thomas University Students’ Union President-elect.
“I am overwhelmingly happy,” said Thomson. “I am blindsided by the people coming up to me – some people I don’t even know – who are really excited saying, ‘I voted for you.’ There has been an overwhelming feeling of support from everyone.”
The second-year English major is a Fredericton native. With blonde hair, big eyes and a contagious smile, she is very animated when she talks, moving her hands and making exaggerated facial expressions and big gestures. Thomson is filled with energy and you know when she is in the room – or when she is talking.
This year, Thomson made her mark as one of the four off-campus representatives.
“We had a lot of fun this year as O.C. reps and we planned some really kickass events. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I think the four of us did a really good job. I think that has been a little bit different than the amount of events that have been planned for O.C. in the past.”
As president, Thomson said she would love to see this trend continue next year. She said bringing the off-campus and on-campus community together is something she is passionate about.
“There are a lot of students at STU who are a part of the off-campus community and being a part of the off-campus community myself it becomes easier to integrate those off-campus people into on-campus life.”
Thomson said in the past the off-campus and on-campus community has been divided. She thinks it is important that they come together.
She said she was lucky to meet many friends who live in residence in her Aquinas classes in first year, but some off-campus students aren’t so lucky.
“The on-campus community is such a wonderful community of people and I think that the more opportunities for people who don’t live in residence to experience that kind of STU family feel, the better.”
Before she attended St. Thomas, Thomson found her love for committees and boards when she was 13 years old. She sat on the junior board of a non-profit organization called CISV – which stood for Children’s International Summer Village. The program links up youth in different countries.
When Thomson was in high school, she helped co-found a non-profit organization called the Battle of the Arts.
It started as a Fredericton-only talent show, and Thomson’s first job was judge. It went really well, but she still gets made fun of for a question she asked a contestant.
“She was from a different country…and was wearing a cultural outfit with obvious cultural significance. So I asked her if the yellow had cultural significance but what I actually said was ‘Why yellow?’”
Now, the Battle of the Arts is an official non-profit organization and it has grown from Fredericton to other cities in New Brunswick and a couple in Nova Scotia. The group is trying to grow across the Maritimes.
She is again involved with CISV, now sitting on the adult board and helping with promotions and recruiting.
Thomson hopes this experience will help in her new role as union president next year.
Thomson will be a third-year next year which breaks the trend of presidents in the past few years. She said there are more pros than cons to being younger.
“I think being younger is definitely going to be a little bit of a challenge, but it opens the door to so many things – like two terms if I wanted,” she said.
“But who knows, maybe I will hate it…and do a good job for a year, and then leave. And if I don’t end up liking it, through that experience of being president I can maybe find something else that I like to do for my fourth year.”
Thomson said one of her priorities as president next year is helping the administration with recruitment and retention.
“I know that recruiting and retention is something that the university is concerned about lately and I think as students I think that we as a collective can do a lot to help that.”
Thomson said retention is not only good for the administration, but it is also good for the students who are already here.
“Retention strategy does not mean keep you here for your money. Retention means how can we make life on campus the best we can for every single student,” she said. “And I think that is something that everyone should be striving for. I think that it will really benefit every student and I think that is a really good place to start.”
Thomson said low enrolment numbers can be a good thing for smaller class sizes, but she thinks it will start to take a toll.
“Nobody likes to think of the university as a place that needs to make money, but on some level it is definitely true.”
Thomson said the university has already made changes to adjust to the lower enrolment numbers, such as the cafeteria changes.
“But I think ultimately it would be good to get [enrolment numbers] back up again.”
Thomson said she is excited about her new executive.
“Ben [Graham] did the same job this year as he will do next year. He will be excellent for the transition because it will not be four brand new people. He knows what he is doing and that will be really useful,” she said.
“And Briana [Matchett] and Shania [Maguire] both have a lot of energy. I think the three of us are all very alike in that we are all very energetic and motivated people. And I think we are similar in that way, which makes me excited to work with them.”
Thomson said she looks forward to next year as president to experience new things.
“I’m excited to get to know the different people and parts of campus that I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know.”