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Unstoppable determination: UNB student creates a better world for students

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Apr 21, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton

Rose with Kordell Walsh (president of UNBSU), Postsecondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder and Premier Blaine Higgs.

When Rose Grant began at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), she knew she wanted to study political science, but she never imagined she would be a voice for others on Parliament Hill, creating policies and advocating for student issues at the national level.

Grant always wanted to make an impact. However, she didn't fully realize her path until she took a politics of globalization course in her first year. Now, as a double honours student in political science and history on UNB's Fredericton campus, she dreams of working in academia in the future, and she's building the skills to achieve this goal.

“Whenever people asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I always said I wanted to go into political science but thought I would eventually change my mind,” she said. “But when I took my first course at UNB, I thought, I’m going to start doing this! My first year really confirmed that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Rose Grant

Last year, the UNB Student Union (SU) hired Grant to serve as its vice president (VP) of research and policy. She had not previously taken part in student leadership and advocacy but viewed this work as a valuable learning experience. She has found that the experience exceeded her expectations.

“I was particularly interested in the politics of climate change and I saw this job as a way to get involved with policy,” she said. “I wanted to be part of the solution.”

Through this position, Grant engages with policymakers on provincial and national levels on various issues. As part of her duties, she organizes events, such as Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Mondays and Members of Parliament (MP) Tuesdays, where students speak directly with government officials about their concerns. Recently, the SU presented her with an Initiative of the Year award for her work organizing the UNBSU advocacy week held last November.

During advocacy week, the SU focused on creating policies to address student issues such as student housing, financial aid, mental health and Indigenous issues. They also met with stakeholders, including government representatives at various levels, such as the Premier, MLAs and senators.

“We saw a lot of our advocacy questions reflected in the government budget that was just released,” she said. “Most notably, we observed a $1.7 million investment in targeted, culturally relevant mental health and addiction services for Indigenous peoples.”

Grant has also worked with the Canadian Student Alliance Association (CASA), a national voice for Canada’s post-secondary students. She recently served as chair of CASA’s Federal Policy Committee and CASA recently named her its Most Valuable Player. CASA also organizes one of the largest advocacy efforts in Ottawa every year.

“During CASA’s advocacy week, members of CASA were able to have 120 meetings with various MPs and ministers and we even got a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” said Grant. “Once you join CASA, you’re joining over 28 member schools across Canada. It’s a huge organization that has a lot of say on Parliament Hill.”

Grant also served as lead for UNB’s 2022 Policy Forum, bringing together speakers from various faculties and organizations, including political science professors and members of the Fredericton City Council. The Forum was titled An Interdisciplinary Approach to Climate Change.

One of the speakers for the Forum was Dr. Donald Wright, a political science professor at UNB, who encouraged Grant to apply for the Model Senate program on Parliament Hill. Grant applied for the 2023 Model Senate program and was accepted, becoming the only person from New Brunswick to participate.

“I was excited for the opportunity to participate in a question period where I raised questions about climate change to a real-life senator,” she said. “During this experience, I was able to meet various senators and engage in committee simulations and debates on different acts.”

When asked about her experience of being around senators and participating in question periods, Grant said her previous advocacy work with MPs and senators through the SU and CASA made it easier for her to get into the role. She added that the experience helped her develop skills in public speaking and crafting arguments.

“I felt that the senators were genuinely interested in student concerns and were excited to talk to us,” said Grant.

Next year, she will begin her fourth year of studies and continue to serve as the VP of research and policy for a second term. In the future, she intends to pursue a PhD, focusing on colonization and climate policy, and eventually teach.

Grant is a New Brunswicker of tomorrow. She wants to make a difference in her community by educating others and driving positive change. Do you also want to make a difference in your community while attending university? UNB offers various programs that may align with your interests and goals.