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UNB alumna named NB Young Humanitarian of the Year

Author: Young Alumni

Posted on Dec 5, 2016

Category: Young Alumni , Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton

Jessica Brennan (BPhil '15)

Innovator, leader, entrepreneur – just three of the many words that represent New Brunswick’s Young Humanitarian of the Year, Jessica Brennan (BPhil ’15).

For her commitment to helping foster leadership and volunteerism in youth, Brennan received the much deserved honour by the Canadian Red Cross on Nov. 9, alongside Humanitarian Award recipient Mahesh Raju.

The Canadian Red Cross awards one Humanitarian Award and one Young Humanitarian Award annually in each of the four Atlantic Provinces, celebrating individuals who inspire volunteerism, advocacy or philanthropy in others. And Brennan certainly does just that.

From a young age, Brennan embraced opportunities to help others -  voicing anti-bullying initiatives to youth, travelling to developing countries and volunteering in her local hospital’s geriatrics unit. However, it was during her time as a UNB student in Renaissance College's Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies program, where she honed her passion for entrepreneurship and projects that encourage youth leadership.

During her third year of studies, Brennan lived in Haiti working mobile health clinics in orphanages, hospitals and pharmacies with Haiti Village Health.  After helping the local women start businesses in their community, Brennan realized that with entrepreneurship and business she could make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Throughout her time at UNB Brennan continued to make her mark as a young leader, starting UNB’s first Innovation & Entrepreneur Society and serving as a student ambassador for the Pond-Deshpande Centre. In addition, she co-founded a networking mobile app called Inkuvate through UNB's TME program and co-founded a second startup called Eting, an online grocery order and delivery system.

“Through all these experiences - the pressure, the hard work, the stress, the minimal hours of sleep, the pitches, and anti-pitches, and yes, the mental break downs- I came out stronger than ever before," says Brennan. “I now have the confidence to pursue what I believe in and I strive to live out of my comfort zone. If there is one thing I fear, it’s to only be average."

Brennan has since completed a Master’s in International Business at Hult International Business School and continues to grow as an entrepreneur, while inspiring the world's youth to embrace their inner leaders as well.

The young humanitarian is currently pursuing work in international development, corporate social responsibility and youth empowerment. She has been traveling around the world growing her network and taking on new projects in the field.

“Leadership and entrepreneurship go hand in hand and I believe it’s the best way to demonstrate to youth that they really can accomplish anything."

"We need to put more effort into building our youth into confident, open-minded, hard-working individuals. Give them the chance to travel, allow them to take on leadership positions and give them a voice on topics that matter."

Receiving the New Brunswick Young Humanitarian Award has been a humbling experience for Brennan, who says she shares her award with all those who give back and strive for greatness.