CommunityStaff SpotlightStudent Life

Staff Spotlight: Arif Abu

Position: Coordinator and Designated Learning Institution Representative
Department: International Student Support, Student Life

What’s the first thing you do when you come into the office?

Everyday is different for me. I don’t have any first thing that I must do when I enter office. Generally speaking, I don’t like rules for living life. Most days, I dance in my office room as if I have won a million dollar. The walk from my condo to the office, warm morning greetings from ISS student and professional team and my beautiful office always make my heart go BEYONCE 🙂

In your view what makes Ryerson unique?

Our community. Our energy is LIT! It is truly an academic institution where ideas come to flourish.

What is something that you wish more people knew about about your position?

A position does not define a person. People define their position. I wish I had more opportunities to connect with colleagues and students because it is never enough for me.

What made you to decide to work in Student Affairs?  If you hadn’t chosen SA, what would you be doing right now?

I was unemployed, broke, hungry and sleep deprived (I was sleeping on a friend’s couch). I did not decide to work in Student Affairs but rather, Student Affairs gave me a job, food, and a good night’s sleep.


If SA did not choose me and if I had the option, then I would have moved back to Bangladesh and joined politics, run for office, and be part of transformation of the land of Bengals and her Indigenous nations.

Where is your favourite place to be outside of work?

My best friend’s house in Peterborough. It is filled with love, joy, kindness, Noni (my best friend’s life partner), and their super annoying cat.

What’s your favourite book?

The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai

What’s your top App?

Viber—I am a mamma’s boy. I love the fact that through Viber, I can see her whenever I want. It always impresses me how 6,808 nautical miles of difference can be banished by one click.

Name the individual(s) who have made the greatest impact in your career?

Seven female leaders in my life have made the greatest impact in my career. They are

Brooke White of University of Windsor, who taught me that in Student Affairs, it is more important to tell students’ stories than our own. Terri Flanagan of NAIT, who taught me the basic principles of how to connect with students. Victoria Choy of UOIT, who gave me a chance in Student Affairs when all doors were closed. Sarah Rasile of UOIT, who helped me to realize that I am an educator, not an event planner. Sonja Knuston of Memorial University, who taught me the importance of patience when we go through challenging times. Jennifer Humphries of CBIE, who taught me that great leaders create more leaders, not followers. And finally Jen Gonzales—who taught me how to make space for different ideas and lead by loving others.

What’s something about you that people are always surprised to learn?

I am a wannabe stand up comedian. I took courses in Queen’s University and Second City.

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

POD 50A—ISS lounge.

In what ways have you found Student Affairs to differ from your previous work experiences?

I have never worked outside Student Affairs. I am an SA child.

What’s your self-care like?

This is a new area of development for me. Since August 2016, I am eating healthy, practicing meditation every morning, doing yoga once a week, going to the gym twice a week, and doing a reflection walk once a week.

What is something you are doing to increase the impact of Student Affairs at Ryerson?

I am part of a team that constantly provide a transformative student experience. My team and I are fully focused on empowering our students so that they realize their infinite potential. Through a personal development model of support, we are increasing Ryerson’s students’ capacity to engage with diverse populations and thrive during challenging times.

When I started working in Student Affairs I wish I had known?

I wish I had known that failure has space in Student Affairs. I was very afraid to fail so I used every means at my disposal to win. I am glad that I know now that losing is winning as long as we learn from our failure.