Similar to most first-year post-secondary students, Fatma Alobeid made the wise decision to focus solely on her grades at Carleton University, forgoing any opportunity to join clubs.
But then the Criminology and Criminal Justice student had a chat with her friend Morgan about Cam’s Kids, so jumped on board as an Ambassador in her second year.
“I was really lost during my first year…I didn’t really know what I was planning on doing,” recalls Fatma, now in her fourth year and the Team Lead of Cam’s Kids at Carleton University.
“I had to push myself to make friends, to talk to people, which I wasn’t used to doing. In high school I knew everyone. I’m grateful I joined Cam’s Kids in my second year because it got me to open up and join other aspects of university life.”
Admitting to being “really passionate about mental health and wellness,” Fatma has found Cam’s Kids to be a perfect fit, saying “I really enjoyed the fact that there was something on campus to join with like-minded people, all of us with the same goal of promoting mental health/wellness. That’s the reason I stuck with it. And I had a really great Team Lead in my second year. She walked me through the role of being a Team Lead.”
Right from the get-go, Fatma was, and remains, a huge proponent of open communication and “allowing other Ambassadors to take the lead.”
“I would open the floor to them to create their own initiatives and work with me to better suit the needs of students. They are all from different programs and they know the needs of students in their programs better than anyone. Helping them create their own vision was a great way to bond with them.”
As is the case at virtually every post-secondary institution across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed added stress on students, increasing anxiety at a time when close contact with the familiar has been taken away. For Fatma, the big challenge lies in finding ways Cam’s Kids can respond effectively to students’ needs while coping with pandemic restrictions as an outreach organization.
“Our Ambassadors are going through stresses too…taking care of a relative or struggling with not finding a job or maybe their co-op placement has been cancelled.”
Her advice to students feeling overwhelmed is simple but tried and true: “Take it day by day.”
“Don’t overwhelm yourself by looking at the next week or the next month. If you find yourself overwhelmed, you can reach out to people. There are resources on campus and beyond. And it’s OK to say no. If you don’t want to attend a virtual event that you said you would, it’s not the end of the world. First-year students should reach out to their professors. So many students don’t do that and it’s a missed opportunity.”
Graduating in the spring of 2021, Fatma plans to attend a law or graduate school to continue her studies. In the meantime, she has the school year ahead, allowing her to continue to solidify Cam’s Kids’ footprint at Carleton.
“It’s a great thing that they (the Hicks family) took Cam’s legacy national and created a Foundation that has reached so many schools. I can promote what Cam’s Kids does with full confidence because I know how great the services provided are and that there’s a resource network I can give to students.”