Love for life drives incoming student

Jaxson Khan has always thought Canada was an incredible country where students could, and should, be engaged in its democracy.

It is one of the reasons he was elected as a Peel District School Board Student Trustee; one of the reasons he was appointed CEO of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association; one of the reasons he was the first straight president of the Gay-Straight Alliance in high school; and one of the reasons he was chosen as Student Council President at the Bader International Study Centre in England, where he studied abroad in his first-year of university.

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“I think that every student deserves a voice, because every student has an opinion,” said Khan, who’ll start this fall at Western, although his second year at university.

Last year, Huron University College gave him the opportunity to take first-year abroad to attend school in England at Bader, his first time outside of North America and first study-abroad experience.

“Being a student trustee empowered me to help youth across an entire region and gave me an insight into the processes behind school boards and how their decisions can affect the daily life of students,” he said. “I think that it gave me the opportunity to effect change on a large scale, as well as develop as both a person and a citizen.

“I’m really looking forward to finally being on campus, and am excited to be a part of the Huron-specific Centre of Global Studies.”

Khan is also part of the Richard Ivey School of Business’ Advanced Entry Opportunity, a pre-admission status to the HBA program. He will begin at Ivey in 2013.

He said it’s important for students to realize that, as they get older, they inherit a greater level of responsibility – a responsibility to give back to their community.

“If governments and the education system and society are hoping to develop the citizens of tomorrow, they should let youth participate in the process, not force them to stand on the sidelines,” he said.

To get students off the sidelines, Khan co-founded the Student Voice Initiative, a national network devoted to passing the knowledge and skills of today’s top young leaders onto the next wave of students.

“We’re working with some incredible people including some of the most engaged student leaders from across Canada,” Khan said. “The truly incredible nature of this model is that we create a self-propagating ripple effect of change, which simply means that people pay it forward. It’s a movement.”

Khan’s latest nod to his education activism was being awarded the Top 20 Under Twenty Award, presented by Youth in Motion, a national charitable organization that designs and implements motivational career programs for youth.

He said it has given him yet another avenue to learn from an extraordinary network of people.

“I hope that others see this award not just as recognition of me, but as recognition of the understanding being built around the importance of including the youth voice in education decision-making. This is a win for youth everywhere,” he said.

Khan admittedly has a self-imposed busy schedule, one he said has all been worthwhile in the end thanks to the support from many of the people around him. His latest focus has been on addressing the issue on mental health.

“Mental health and issues like depression, stress and anxiety haven’t always been given the largest profile or a significant amount of understanding, because they are invisible differences – they can’t be immediately seen like someone in a wheelchair,” he said. “Stress, anxiety and depression are ubiquitous, and invisible differences can be and often are just as severe or as debilitating as physical differences.”

Khan said he’s thrilled to be at Western and while his options are wide open, he can see himself in a variety of fields, including public service, business, public health or international relations.

“The common theme for me is human interaction. I love communicating with people from all aspects of life,” Khan said. “Nothing makes me happier than connecting with people on a candid level. A great friend of mine always says that ‘people are life,’ and that statement couldn’t be more true. People are life, and I love life.”