Hailing from Sydney, Cape Breton, Brandi Mills was recruited to the Mount to play for the University’s women’s basketball team. After applying, she was awarded a prestigious Presidential Scholarship – reflecting her exceptional previous academic accomplishments, as well as school and community contributions.
A Bachelor of Science (Biology) student, Brandi is also pursuing a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership. Read on for her answers to some questions about adding that extra credential to her academic plan.
Q. Do you currently work or volunteer with a nonprofit?
A. “Yes, I do. I volunteer with the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) at MSVU. This initiative aims to eliminate the mental illness stigma in post-secondary sports and facilitate access to the resources needed to maintain and improve mental health. SAMHI hosts an annual event on Bell Let’s Talk Day (January 31) where all MSVU athletes attend a presentation about mental health. We have keynote speakers, games, and speeches from our own student athletes who struggle with mental health.”
Q. Why did the Nonprofit Leadership Program appeal to you?
A. “When I first heard about this program, I instantly saw it as an opportunity to help make a difference and allow me to stand out when applying to graduate schools. I have always been interested in helping people and giving back to the community, so the nonprofit program seemed like the perfect fit for me. The nonprofit world is all about connecting and working with people which is why I find it so interesting. Having the certificate from the Mount will help me with my future (which I hope will include a PhD) and expand my career options.”
Q. What sort of nonprofit work have you done in the past?
A. “United Way Cape Breton was my first experience with the nonprofit sector. I was a youth day camp coordinator. United Way put on free day camps for children in underprivileged neighborhoods throughout the summer. There are often events and activities held for the public during the summer, but many underprivileged children could not access these events, so the idea was to bring the fun to them. I worked to get daily food donated from local grocery stores as well as used sports equipment for the kids to play with. Feeding their bellies while having a fun filled summer was one of the most rewarding projects I have had the pleasure of being a part of.
I also volunteer as a head coach with a U17 girls’ basketball team. I have had so many coaches and community members who have helped me become successful in my sport, I felt it was important to give back to the sport itself. Coaching is a challenging yet rewarding experience and it was an honour to work with a group of young players and teach them everything I could and motivate them to be the best they can be.”
Q. What are you plans for a career in the nonprofit sector?
A. “My plans for the future involve continuing my education and eventually working towards my PhD. Following my doctorate, I would love to work for a university to help educate or assist others going through their schooling.”
Q. What advice would you give to people considering the Nonprofit Leadership Program?
A. “With the nonprofit sector being so broad, ranging from universities to charities to hospitals, this program is right for everyone! I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to create positive change in communities and truly impact people in a positive way.”
Q. Why is the leadership aspect of the Mount’s program important?
A. “One amazing professor, Dr. Heidi Weigand [Mount Business and Tourism Department], once said “anyone can motivate someone on day one, but it takes a leader to motivate someone on day 40.” This is the exactly why leadership and the ability to lead is so important. Whether it is leading one person, a team, coworkers, or employees, everyone can and does have the ability to lead in one way or another. In any career, you can be a leader, someone who has the courage to create change and make a difference. I want to be the best leader I can be, and I think this ability and skill is essential for the life I want to lead.”