Whether through law or humanitarian work, Glendon student Cyrielle Ngeleka is a young woman on the rise with growing ambitions to help others.
Third year International Studies and Business Administration student, Cyrielle Ngeleka, is one of those young women you meet and instantly know she’s going to do big things with her life. She’s focused, driven and is a leader who clearly enjoys serving others, but her path wasn’t always so clear.
Choosing her path
Like many high school students, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. But that all changed back in the 11th grade.
“I knew I had strengths in multiple areas”, she told SHIFTER in a recent interview. “I knew I was good at reading and writing, but I didn’t know what I wanted to specialize in. I took this one introductory business course and knew this is something I wanted to do.”
Then came one of the biggest decisions of her life―where to go to university. Knowing she wanted to study a second subject on top of business, she ultimately chose York University’s Glendon campus for its dual degree program which would allow her to study both International Studies and Business Administration en route to a future in international law.
For the Congolese-Canadian, its reputation for bilingualism tipped the scales even further in Glendon’s favour.
“Throughout the entirety of my life, I’ve only studied in French”, she explains. “I knew that coming into university I wanted to study in English, but I didn’t want to lose my French; bilingualism was a big thing for me. Currently, my course load is split 50/50. Half of my courses are in English and the other half are in French.”
Although she is close to graduation, she’s already considering her next steps. After university she aspires to either go to law school, intern at a law firm, or get involved with humanitarian work or policy changes, even if at a small scale.
Finding ways to get involved
Outside of her studies, she is heavily involved on campus. She is currently the Vice-President of Campaigns and Advocacy for the Glendon College Student Union, ensuring certain resources are available to students. She is passionate about students having all the education they need, whether that means creating posters on different awareness days or doing Instagram takeovers about municipal, provincial and federal elections.
The role also allows her to sit on the Canadian Federation of Students, made up of student unions from across Canada. She currently sits as the Francophone rep for both Canada and Ontario, creating programming to bring Francophone students together.
If that isn’t enough, she is also a peer mentor with GL Zone, a peer mentorship and community engagement program where upper year students are paired with first year students to help with their transition to university. Now a senior peer mentor, she spends her time mentoring the peer mentors who are in turn mentoring new students.
For Ngeleka, it’s important to find ways to be active on campus.
“There’s a bunch of different things that I do. You walk in the halls, you’ll see me. I’m that person who’s literally everywhere.”
Work-life balance is key
Outside of school, her other love is music. She started piano lessons at 11 years old, but quickly transitioned after finding guitar more interesting. Not taking to formal lessons, the self-taught musician used YouTube to learn piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and ukulele on her own.
Growing up being fairly good at all sports, including cross country and track and field, she also likes to stay active as a runner.
For Ngeleka, it’s all about maintaining the right balance.
“It’s really important to focus on school and your grades, because obviously university is not cheap, but please have fun…It’s crucial to find the balance.”
More advice for students:
“When you’re in university you become a little more independent and not every opportunity is going to be given to you on a silver platter. You have to get out of your comfort zone and reach for those opportunities, and when you take those opportunities, you’ll see that you’ll attract more.”
“Familiarize yourself with the resources being made available to you on campus…even if it’s counselling and financial assistance…From the get-go you should have that knowledge.”