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Meet a student who is elevating the UofGH voice

Justin Mihaly

I saw the sense of community, and I knew it was a community that I belonged in.

Photo courtesy of Justin Mihaly

When Justin Mihaly first visited the University of Guelph-Humber, he knew he found the right fit.

“I saw the sense of community, and I knew it was a community that I belonged in,” said Mihaly, who is entering his fourth year in the Business program.

Now, Mihaly is eager to represent his peers as the first UofGH student elected to sit on the University of Guelph Board of Governors. The Board of Governors oversees the government, conduct, management and control of the University. Mihaly is one of two undergraduate students across U of G and UofGH who will be sitting on the Board for 2021-2022.

As the current co-chair of the University of Guelph Student Senate Caucus, Mihaly is experienced when it comes to student government and advocacy. In his role, he leads a group of student senators who act as the voice of students on academic issues. Mihaly, who successfully ran for re-election this year, will be continuing to represent UofGH on the Senate along with Brady Arruda, Elad Menahem and Nishanth Puvanendran.

It was Mihaly’s experience in the Senate that ultimately motivated him to run for the Board of Governors.

“Throughout my co-chair role, I realized that the Guelph-Humber voice is very quiet when it comes to administrators, and there's not a lot of representation from our school,” Mihaly said. “I really wanted to get involved with the Board of Governors because of that. I'm excited to make that Guelph-Humber voice a lot louder.”

A new outlook

Mihaly, who is interested in finance, economics and politics, knew he wanted to study business early on. What he didn’t expect was how involved he would become with extracurricular activities.

“I would wake up in the morning, go to school, go home,” Mihaly recalled about his high school experience. “Then I came to university with the exact same mindset. I doubt I'll get involved.”

But it was thanks to some profound advice from a professor and words of encouragement from a peer that gave him a new perspective.

“My professor at the time said everyone's going to graduate with the same degree and diploma. It's what makes you different that's going to get you further,” Mihaly said. “I'll never forget that quote. It was one of my first classes.”

Then, Mihaly met fellow Business student (now UofGH alum) Daniel Bielak, who encouraged Mihaly to find different opportunities around campus.

“He was very involved on campus, and he really motivated me to start getting involved. He really helped me as a mentor,” Mihaly said.

Mihaly took it one step at a time. He started by joining a few societies in his first year, which led to leadership opportunities. Mihaly became the vice president of communications and then president of the Guelph-Humber Finance Society. As his passion for the UofGH community grew, Mihaly decided to run for Senate.

“It was like a eureka moment that I should get involved, just by talking to others who were,” Mihaly said, “and getting involved is one of the best things I ever did.”

Leading the way

That sense of community that Mihaly felt when he first arrived at UofGH has only grown stronger.

“Everyone is so close at the University of Guelph-Humber. I can talk to my professors and have real conversations with them and know them by their first names. I can go into their offices and sit there for 10 minutes and just talk about the stock market,” Mihaly said.

“Everyone is so friendly. You can go up to a table with anyone, start a conversation and you have a friend,” he added. “What really makes us such a strong community is everyone is accepting, and everyone likes to talk to each other. Because we're a small school, that community just grows stronger and stronger every year.”

In his final year, Mihaly is excited for the opportunity to advocate for his community. As the first UofGH student to be elected to the Board of Governors, Mihaly hopes that he can inspire more students to become involved.

“I'm the first one, but I don't want to be the last one,” said Mihaly. “I want to make sure that other Guelph-Humber students are continuing to go forward and sit on the Board of Governors and Senate.”