15 Nov Youth Central Alumni Profile: Bronwyn Bragg
To mark this milestone Youth Central is profiling 25 of its alumni throughout the years. Youth Central’s Youth Are Awesome (YAA) program is helping out by interviewing and profiling the alumni. This article is written by Rosie Zhao, one of YAA junior editors.
For Youth Central’s 25th anniversary, I had the privilege to talk to Bronwyn Bragg, a Youth Central alumnus who began her journey with the organization in 1997. During her time on YVC, Bronwyn was involved with volunteering for the elderly and the YVC Steering Committee, which paved the way for her to build on her leadership skills, as well as meet people who would be instrumental to the rest of her life.
Bronwyn’s experiences with YVC originally began when the organization allowed her to volunteer with seniors in the community at the young age of 13. “YVC provided an opportunity to do the volunteer work I had wanted to do, while getting to meet other like-minded young people and work with cool youth leaders,” Bronwyn notes. As a volunteer, Bronwyn ended up dedicating an entire summer at the Brentwood Care Centre, and the following summer at the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary. This interaction with the senior citizens fueled Bronwyn’s desire to be an active member of the community through volunteerism and gave her significant insight into prevalent social issues.
“They provided an important lesson about the way some people are marginalized in our community because of their age or ability.”
Alongside her volunteer work with seniors, Bronwyn became involved with the YVC Steering Committee, helping them organize fundraisers such as Empty Bowls and “Wake-a-Thon”— an event where the participants stayed awake for a full 24 hours! “The Steering Committee was an amazing opportunity,” Bronwyn explains. “Even as a young person, I was able to communicate ideas and contribute my leadership skills to the organization.” Bronwyn also gave significant credit to the staff running the organization.
“I believe that the amazing adults who worked at YVC at the time modeled a kind of ethical leadership that shaped my vision of what it meant to be an open, compassionate and respectful leader.”
In fact, Bronwyn fondly recalls one leader at YVC in particular, who encouraged her to attend a youth leadership conference. There, she met other young volunteers and an eventual lifelong friend who introduced her to the United World Colleges program: an educational experience for high-school aged students interested in social justice. After applying the following year, Bronwyn attended Lester B. Pearson United World College, where she lived and studied with students from around the world.
Although it has since been 20 years, Bronwyn’s experiences with YVC has profoundly shaped her actions and the person she is today. She carries the organization’s values as a cornerstone of her life, as seen in her present volunteer involvement on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Centre of Calgary. Alongside completing her Ph.D. in Human Geography, Bronwyn also runs a research consulting business that focuses on social inclusion issues primarily with immigrants and newcomers to Calgary.
In light of her own experiences, Bronwyn imparts a piece of advice for current Youth Central volunteers to “soak up the experiences you are having now and to take every opportunity that comes [your] way— say yes to everything.” As shown in her story, Bronwyn maintains that the opportunities that one pushes to have will shape the choices one makes later in life.
“Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone and into leadership roles may feel a bit scary, but it is the best way to learn about yourself and the kind of gifts you have to contribute to the world. Have fun!”