There are few experiences in life that can change you fundamentally as a person. There are even fewer instances where you can point to a certain moment in time and say with conviction, “that was the moment my entire life changed.”

For me and 50,000 others around the globe, that life-changing moment was when we made the decision to join AIESEC.

I first joined AIESEC in 2008 during Club Days. I had just begun my studies at the University of Guelph, moved away from home for the first time, and still believed that I had no viable career options other than to become a veterinarian. I had never travelled outside North America despite having been born in Philippines and had hardly travelled within Canada. Needless to say, my knowledge of the world was limited to what was directly in front of me, and it took a powerful force to help me see the big picture.

In those days, AIESEC Guelph was a small and struggling local chapter. Despite – or perhaps, because of – its dire state, my fellow Guelph members and I were passionate and motivated to get the chapter back on its feet. But as a shy and relatively oblivious first-year student, I hesitated to take on any major roles. I didn’t think I was smart enough, outgoing enough, competent enough or confident enough to lead a team or manage my own projects.

My point of view was challenged after my second year when I became vice-president of projects. I followed up that role as vice-president of talent management, where my team broke records and received a national nomination for excellence in human resources. Realizing my potential and true passion for human resources, I began to take on bigger leadership roles. I became a member of the national leadership team for AIESEC Canada, managed my own team of training facilitators for a conference and completed an AIESEC internship in Romania, where I developed human resources strategies for an NGO.

At the same time that I was experiencing so many changes in my life, AIESEC Guelph was undergoing its own transformation. AIESEC Guelph has become one of the top local chapters in Canada and is achieving results that none of us could have imagined back in 2008.

Just as AIESEC Guelph has grown and seen unimaginable success, my life couldn’t be any more different or any better. In the last four years, I have travelled across Canada and visited eight countries. I now have a strong network of friends around the world.

My AIESEC experience instilled my passion in human resources, gave me the courage to pursue a completely different career path and, above all, gave me confidence in who I am. My view of the world is no longer limited to what lies directly in front of me; I now see a world smaller in size and enlarged in possibility.

By Gelaine Santiago, B.Sc. ’12


Visit AIESEC for more information, or email