Natalie Hoffmann, Immunology

Natalie HoffmanNatalie Hoffmann I believe a good leader should have the courage to try new things and be bold enough to follow through with their vision. Throughout my undergraduate years at the University of Toronto I have been influenced by countless role models, both as part of my academic endeavors and outside the classroom. These individuals encouraged me to be daring in my pursuits, but they also demonstrated the importance of giving back to the community. In their footsteps, I have strived to be a enthusiastic, approachable, and accountable leader and to provide resources and services that benefit others in the larger Doff community.

My main leadership experience has come from being an executive  member in the Immunology Students' Association (IMMSA). Currently I am the Co-President of IMMSA and am responsible for managing an executive team, planning events and budgets, and representing the link between undergraduate students and the Department of Immunology. Various events IMMSA holds throughout the year are designed to encourage collaboration between professors, graduate students, and undergraduates, as well as foster a love for research and sense of community outside classes. In addition to catering to Immunology  students, IMMSA is also involved in providing program  information and mentorship for first year students and high school science students. One of the main events held by IMMSA is the annual Ontario-Quebec Undergraduate Immunology Conference (OQUIC), where undergraduates from across Ontario and Quebec travel to Uoff for a two-day conference and present the results from their independent research projects. Not only is this an ideal setting to practice presentation skills, it is an excellent opportunity for students from different universities to socialize and collaborate on shared research interests. Science should not be exclusive; therefore, the conference is free of charge for all participants and invites students from all backgrounds and means to participate.

One of the greatest advantages of attending Uoff is the opportunity to become part of a research group. During my studies I have been involved in several research projects and have been included as a co-author on a research article. I am currently performing an fourth year thesis project , and I am inspired everyday by the tireless and dedicated attitudes of the post­ doctoral researchers and graduate students. Due to my involvement in research, I am able to mentor first year students in the Life Sciences and offer advice on ways to get involved or how to approach professors to gain lab experience.

In addition to my courses, I have been a member of the Uoff Tri-Campus Volleyball team for the past four years, aiding in my understanding of what it means to be a team player. I am also a staff member at Woodsworth College Residence, where I have strived to be a responsible employee and a helpful co-worker to others. Being involved in a residence setting allows me to peer-mentor first year students in Life Sciences and give general advice on university life to students from all programs.

One of the most important things I have learned at Uoff is that leadership can come from many different places. While leadership is often embodied in professors and student leaders that plan and execute events, it can also be seen on the volleyball court when teammates encourage each other, or in the advice and experience of graduate students during a research course. My involvement at Uoff has not only taught me what exceptional leadership looks like, but has encouraged me to become a more confident leader myself. I hope that in the future I can be bold in my endeavors and continue to give back to the community.