Directly out of high school I got into the trades, and signed up for an apprenticeship as an electrician. While most of my friends were at university expanding their knowledge, I was on a construction site with my hard hat and safety boots. And although it was not the most picturesque version of reality, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I had a great time and loved the work, but I decided I wanted more. I needed a university education, and there was only one place for me to go: the University of Toronto.
Last fall, in my second year, I went to a Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) event. The keynote speaker was Alexandra Bezeredi, a lead social development officer at the World Bank. One thing led to another, and she spoke with me for an hour the following day. She gave me her time, and for that I will be forever grateful. But more importantly, she gave me advice—real-world advice from someone who had started out more or less where I was.
This conversation literally changed my life. And because of it, today my goal is to become head of infrastructure development at the World Bank.
With my new-found focus and ambition, I have found amazing opportunities. I applied for an exchange year at University College London, and got a social development internship with a non-profit in South Africa. I’m about to fly to Cape Town, and I cannot believe that this is all happening because of the generosity and good advice of a U of T alumna.
The conversation I had with Alexandra Bezeredi will forever be ingrained in my memory. It may have just changed my life. That’s what a timely encounter with an alumni volunteer can do.
TOP: Brian Leiper is a 3rd-year student pursuing a double major in political science and philosophy.
Backpack to Briefcase is proudly sponsored by U of T’s Affinity Partner, Manulife.