The SA president, Sara Grainger is standing beside Cheryl Jensen, the Algonquin College president. At first sight, everything appears normal. But it’s not.
Jensen is wearing a SA jacket that reads Sara Grainger, SA President. For a week, Jensen is going to step into Grainger’s shoes.
Jensen helps Grainger wear a green scarf – an Algonquin College women’s scarf that Jensen calls “regalia” that shows the pride that people have at Algonquin, she said.
Grainger goes through the topics – e-text, blackboard and women in leadership position – that they will talk about to students before they leave. As they go through a long, green, hallway in the SA bureau, Jensen introduces herself to individuals she meets as the SA president and she receives laughs along the way.
With Jensen acting as SA president and Grainger acting as Algonquin’s president, the two leaders switched places in order to advocate for other women in senior leadership positions and to consider mentoring and inspiring young women.
“So it begins!” said Jensen. “Day one of an exciting week for International Womens Day.”
It was part of the Leadership Development for Women initiative organized, during the week of March 7-11, that highlighted particular strengths, values and attitudes that make both Jensen and Grainger great leaders.
It was the brainchild of Angela Lyrette, a faculty member at the college in the financial office and legal studies department. She is a member of the Leadership Development for Women initiative which came up with the idea.
“When Cheryl took the helm, I started to wonder how her leadership style differed from President Gillet and McDonald,” said Lyrette. “I brought this up in a Leadership Development for Women initiative and we discussed the idea of shadowing her to observe her interactions, time management and leadership qualities. The idea evolved to a freaky Friday-type swap with the current SA president, who is also a woman with unique leadership qualities.”
On their walkabout talk with students, Jensen and Grainger found out that their topics were not big issues to students; rather the wireless network was the number one issue.
Jensen says that it’s a great idea for the two presidents of the college to be in each other’s shoes because it is important to encourage students and faculty members to aspire for leadership roles.
After spending a day as the SA president, Jensen said that being the SA president is essential because you become a strong voice for students.
“It’s a big job,” said Jensen. “Sara brings a strong student’s perspective.”