When an ad for Cape Breton University caught Eleanor Sidley’s eye all the way in Elmvale, Ontario, she took it as a sign. Eleanor had completed a Tourism Marketing and Product Development Diploma in her home province, but was ready to further her education. “The ad said I could turn my college diploma into a degree,” she explains. “With the articulation agreement between my former college and CBU, all of my credits were eligible for transfer. Plus, I had always thought it would be nice to live on the East Coast, so I decided to go for it.”
Eleanor spent her first year at CBU adjusting to life on campus and her new role as a university student. But once her second year came around, Eleanor started getting involved with various groups on campus, kicking off a domino effect that would carry on throughout her entire program. “I started as a Frosh Leader, then got hired as the Student Life and Community Engagement Assistant where I worked with Jennifer Billard,” says Eleanor. “That same year I ran for the Student Representative Council (SRC) and became Chair. Working with the Students’ Union during my time on the SRC inspired me to run for an executive position and the following year I was elected as President of the CBU Students’ Union.”
Because she got involved so much in campus life, Eleanor says she was given opportunities she wouldn’t have received otherwise. On top of that, she developed a sense of pride and ownership in her University. Some of her favourite moments took place when CBU hosted the AUS Soccer Championships on campus in 2017 and 2018. “There’s nothing like the energy of being surrounded by your campus family and celebrating the team’s wins on our home turf,” says Eleanor.
Eleanor says she understands that getting involved in campus life can feel overwhelming to some students. Being a student has challenges of its own, so not everyone wants to add extracurriculars to their plate, but Eleanor says all students can find a level of involvement that works for them. “Maybe it’s just joining one society or taking part in a couple of volunteer events,” she explains. “At the end of the day, it all makes a difference. At my former school I wasn’t involved at all, and looking back I think I missed out on a lot because of that.”
After graduating from CBU in 2017 with a Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Eleanor wasn’t ready to leave campus just yet. She became a Communication Events Assistant for CBU’s Alumni and Development Team and says the experience allowed her to put her skills into practice in the field, gaining amazing mentors along the way.
Having developed a life in Cape Breton, Eleanor decided she wanted to stay on the Island. “On top of how beautiful and friendly it is here, I felt like it was home,” she says. “I had made so many great connections and I just felt like I belonged here.”
After completing her contract with Alumni and Development, Eleanor accepted a position as the Trainee Wellness and Support Coordinator at LearnCorp International, a program housed within CBU which provides specialized training for clients in the energy sector. “All of my involvement in student life at CBU has directly impacted my current position,” says Eleanor. “Working in so many different areas of the University helped me feel prepared for anything that can happen in my career today.”
Eleanor is incredibly proud to be part of the CBU Alumni family, and says her advice to anyone considering attending CBU is to go for it! “CBU is unique in many ways, but I think the most important thing that sets it apart from other universities is the sense of community,” she says. “It’s extraordinary to be part of such an amazing group of people. CBU will truly become your home away from home.”