University of Calgary

Faculty of Arts activist embodies change as she leaves her mark on campus

UToday HomeJune 12, 2013

By Carly Moran

Sarah Damberger’s experiences as a University of Calgary student helped her develop a strong social conscience and solidified her dream to work in the non-profit sector one day.Sarah Damberger’s experiences as a University of Calgary student helped her develop a strong social conscience and solidified her dream to work in the non-profit sector one day. Photo by Riley BrandtSarah Damberger knew she wanted to attend the University of Calgary after learning about the Communications Studies program from a student at a job fair in Edmonton. In fact, she was so impressed by the program that she only applied for admission to the University of Calgary.

That decision was lucky for the University of Calgary. In four short years, Damberger made her mark on campus by volunteering with the university chapter of Amnesty International, getting involved on student council as a Faculty of Arts rep, and working with fellow arts students to develop a stronger sense of faculty pride.

“If I see something that could be changed or improved, I try to make it happen,” says Damberger. “That’s the kind of person I’d want representing me, so that’s the kind of person I strive to be.”

Damberger became heavily involved in campus life early on by joining the university’s Amnesty chapter. A bulletin advertising the Students’ Union club caught her eye one day on her way to class, compelling her to inquire about getting involved. She soon discovered that all of the club’s executive members had graduated, so she volunteered to serve as the club’s vice-president of communications.

Fast forward a few years and Damberger took over the role as club president, helping increase student membership from a handful to more than a hundred while delivering high-profile events and raising awareness about international human rights.

“Working with Amnesty International was extremely rewarding,” says Damberger. “I’m drawn to activism and social justice, and I enjoyed the opportunity to empower other students to make an impact on human rights issues by giving them the tools they needed to get engaged.”

The socially conscious student’s community service didn’t stop there. Damberger also got involved with the Students’ Union in her senior year as a Faculty of Arts rep.

“I never really envisioned getting involved in student council while attending university,” says Damberger. “However, I believe that student representatives who advocate for large groups of people can accomplish great things.

“There were several things I wanted to see change for Faculty of Arts students, and I took senior year as my chance to really make something happen and leave my mark.”

Damberger’s top priority as a Faculty of Arts rep was to build a sense of pride among arts students by embracing and celebrating the faculty’s diversity and uniqueness. She initiated a Faculty of Arts gala and showcase event with the other three Arts reps as an opportunity for students to interact with faculty administrators, and feel valued and appreciated.

Damberger’s community involvement resulted in a President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership, an honour she will receive as she walks across the convocation stage today to accept her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communications Studies.

Reflecting on four years of academics and activism, the top three messages Damberger would share with current students are to take chances, know the people you can lean on, and enjoy every minute.

“Find enjoyable moments everywhere you can, because you’ll be done before you know it and will be wishing you could go back. Study hard and get involved, but make sure you have some fun along the way.”


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