New AMS Council sets sights on a new year

LWT’s team discusses the day they were hired and their goals moving forward

Top row, left to right: Liam Dowling, Emma Jones, Bianca Balazic, Caitlin McKeen. Second row, left to right: Leo Burns Scully, Francis Campbell, Leandra Keren, Greg Kurcin, Michael Judd, Leah Brockie. Missing: Sam Anderson, Max Garcia, Brandon Kim.
Top row, left to right: Liam Dowling, Emma Jones, Bianca Balazic, Caitlin McKeen. Second row, left to right: Leo Burns Scully, Francis Campbell, Leandra Keren, Greg Kurcin, Michael Judd, Leah Brockie. Missing: Sam Anderson, Max Garcia, Brandon Kim.

On Feb. 9, the AMS executive-elect — Tyler Lively, Dave Walker, and Carolyn Thompson — announced their newly-hired council of directors and commissioners.

The selected candidates, who hail from a variety of schools and faculties, have begun to transition into their roles. They’ll officially begin on May 1.

Commissioner of Academic Affairs
Leah Brockie, ConEd ’17

Leah Brockie said she was “floored” when she got the call from Lively, Walker and Thompson and heard she’d been selected for Academic Affairs Commissioner.

“I couldn’t stop shaking, and then I just called my dad,” she said.

This year, she served as Senator for the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), the Student Senate Caucus Chair, a Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics executive and Queen’s Model UN (QMUN) executive.

Brockie says one focus for her in the coming year will be fostering a relationship with the new provost, Benoit-Antoine Bacon. Bacon is set to begin a five-year term this summer.

Lively, the current Academic Affairs Commissioner, has begun Brockie’s transition training. She said the steep learning curve will be the most difficult part of the job.

“But I’m ready to take it on.”

Social Issues Commissioner
Leandra Keren, Comm ’17

Leandra Keren said she had to contain her excitement in CoGro after being offered the Social Issues Commissioner job.

“I called my mom right after,” she said.

Keren has focused on supporting other students during her time at Queen’s. She’s held various positions in the AMS Mental Health Awareness Committee (MHAC) and the Peer Support Centre.

She also kickstarted and co-chaired AuthenticallyU, an ASUS group dedicated to the promotion of positive body image and eating disorder awareness.

She said this position has exposed her to the various problems that Queen’s students face.

“So, I’ve become really passionate [about them].”

 She said she hopes to tackle the creation of the sexual assault centre on campus this coming year. Her biggest challenge, however, will be handling the day-to-day social issues facing students at Queen’s, she said.

“My most challenging thing is also the thing I’m most excited for, which is to engage with all the students on campus and hear their experience of oppression,” she said.

“Representing [every issue] is really difficult, but I’m also really excited to learn from them and hear what they have to say.”

Commissioner of Environmental Affairs
Liam Dowling, ConEd ’18

Liam Dowling was standing in the middle of a hallway when he picked up the phone and learned he had been hired. He says he may have alarmed nearby students with his sudden excitement.

Dowling has been involved in the AMS for two years as an Arts and Sciences representative. He previously served as an editor for B. Ed Spread, the Education faculty newspaper, and as an Orientation leader for the Concurrent Education frosh week.

He said his experience as a Biology student has led him to care deeply about environmental affairs. The Commission of Environmental Affairs is still fairly young in the AMS, he said, and there’s still a lot of growth needed.

“It’s very important moving forward that we look at how individual students at the university can benefit from the environmental commission, and how we can advocate for their needs both on an external and internal basis.”

He said his task ahead is to expand the commission and see “how it can really benefit students in the greater Queen’s community.”

Commissioner of Campus Activities
Greg Kurcin, ArtSci ’16

Greg Kurcin prompted laughter from the other council members when he spoke about his job offer.

“I asked [Lively, Walker and Thompson] if I could call my girlfriend,” he said.

Kurcin has been heavily involved in ASUS Orientation Week, as a Gael, an Orientation Chair and Academics Chair. He has also has volunteered at the Peer Support Centre and eventually became their marketing coordinator.

Alongside those commitment, he worked for Walkhome both as a service staff and a community outreach assistant manager.

“I’m really excited to foster a positive environment for people, so they can feel comfortable and happy about getting involved,” he said.

Kurcin admitted that it will be a challenge to work with the enormous number of groups involved with the commission, but says he’s looking forward to it.

“I’m excited for Orientation Week. It kind of kicks all this off.”

Commissioner of Municipal Affairs
Francis Campbell, ArtSci ’17

Francis Campbell grew up in Kingston, so municipal affairs are close to his heart.

“I’ve seen Queen’s evolve from an outside perspective. This role is an inside look, and being able to affect change at a municipal level,” he said.

Campbell has served as a co-chair for QMUN as well as the Chair of the ASUS advisory board and the director of the newly-opened SparQ studios on campus.

“I’m most excited to build those ongoing relationships with City councilors and the district associations to keep a positive relationship going with Queen’s,” he said.

He said that it’ll be important to foster positive relationships in the community and balance the needs and wants of students and the Kingston community.

In terms of his job offer from Lively, Walker and Thompson, Campbell said his experience wasn’t unlike his colleagues.

“Except, I don’t think I was shaking,” he added.

Director of Retail Services
Leo Burns Scully, PheKin ’16

When Leo Burns Scully, PheKin ’16, learned that he had been hired as the Director of Retail Services, he said his mind was racing with ideas.

Scully has been involved with Orientation Week at various levels, and spent the last three years at Walkhome, where he is now the Head Manager.

He's also been involved with Queen’s Athletics and Recreation through intramural programs.

“I chose to apply because I’ve had an incredible number of opportunities at Queen’s to interact with student leaders and impassioned advocates for the student experience,” he said. 

Director of Information Technology
Michael Judd, CompSci ’17

Michael Judd says that as a Computing student, his greatest challenge will be simple: “fixing things when they break!”

He says his passion lies in everything related to technology. He’s been involved in rideshare programs and math-based events around Queen’s along with various levels of the Tech Committee, the computing Orientation Week committee.

In his role, he says organization will be important.

“There’s so much information out there for students, and I just want to make it more centralized and accessible,” he said.

Director of Hospitality and Safety Services
Brandon Kim, ArtSci ’16

Brandon Kim says the amazing memories he’s made working in AMS services made applying for the job a natural choice.

Kim has worked for Queen’s Home Events, as a Student Constable, as a TAPS Assistant Manager and in various clubs, such as the Queen's Student Alumni Association.

“I'm excited to get to know the inner workings of the services I may not know as well and be a part of something that has had such a strong impact on students.”

Director of Media Services
Max Garcia, CompSci ’17

Garcia has spent the past year as COMPSA President, previously serving as the COMPSA Academic Affairs Commissioner and a first-year representative.

He has also been a residence don over the past year and worked as a radio host at CFRC.

He discussed the portfolio of his new position, which he called “very exciting”, and includes the oversight of  Walkhome and Studio Q.

He will also sit on the advisory boards of CFRC and The Journal.

“I’m most excited to start implementing more technology in the daily operations of Walkhome, and I think that’ll be a project that might have my focus right away,” he said.

Managing Director of the Student Life Centre
Sam Anderson, Sci ’17

Sam Anderson previously sat on EngSoc Council and served as the EngSoc Director of Academics. He has also worked on the Caring Campus Project to address substance abuse on campus and as an undergrad representative on the Senate Committee on Academic Development.

He’s currently the Strategic Planning Chair on the EngSoc’s board and Speaker of AMS assembly.

Anderson said he believes the Student Life Centre is a solid foundation upon which the AMS, the SGPS and Queen’s provides students with “useful services, quality spaces and an engaging campus atmosphere.”

Director of Human Resources
Emma Jones, ArtSci ’16

Jones has served as the editor-in-chief of Politicus, logistics coordinator for the politics department student council and special projects deputy in the AMS Academics Affairs Commission.

“I’ve worked with a number of amazing volunteers who are very dedicated to a number of things, both within ASUS and the AMS, so supporting their health and wellness was very important to me,” she said.

“It’s why I applied for this position. It will also probably be the first thing I will attempt to tackle.”

She said that her biggest challenge will be to foster and maintain a relationship between the human resources office and the executive, the council and all of the service staff and volunteers.

Director of Advancement
Caitlin McKeen, ArtSci ’16 

McKeen has been heavily involved in the NEWTS orientation week, for international, returning BISC and transfer students, and has been involved with the Sexual Health Resource Centre and MHAC.

“I’m most excited to meet all of the alumni through the ReUnion Street Festival and through just [working] in general,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to the sponsorship and fundraising that we can do ... and just utilizing [our resources] to the best of our abilities to make sure all of the students are very well cared for.”

Director of Communications
Bianca Balazic, ArtSci ’17

Balazic has held positions with the Queen’s International Affairs Association and Focus Film Festival, and participated in conferences like QFLIP and Queen’s Model Parliament (QMP).

Unlike several of her colleagues, she said that she is “walking into this role with zero involvement or experience in the AMS.”

Her biggest challenge, she believes, is going to be managing the day-to-day duties of the job, and feeling comfortable with the knowledge required.

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