I recently had the chance to interview my friend and fellow Waterloo student, Melissa Buckley. Currently in her third year of Chemical Engineering, Melissa has been involved with ESSCO, CFES, and Waterloo Engineering Society throughout her undergrad. Among other roles, Melissa served as ESSCO VP Communications for 2015-2016 and currently holds the VP Communications position for Waterloo Engineering Society ‘B’. Read on to hear more about her experiences in student politics and advice for other students.

What prompted you to get involved with ESSCO?


I attended ESSCO FYIC (First Year Integration Conference) in 2015! It was an awesome experience for me and encouraged me to become more involved with my own Engineering Society and find out more about ESSCO. There was also a small joke-tradition that the VP Communications for ESSCO had been a 2nd year Waterloo girl for the previous 3 terms, so a few Waterloo people pushed me to keep that going. I definitely ended up wanting to run for ESSCO executive for my own reasons, but the tradition peaked my interest.

Side note: FYIC 2017 happened February 3-5 at the University of Ottawa. Stay tuned for the conference recap!

What was the most rewarding aspect for you of your term as ESSCO executive?

ESSCO is completely driven by students, and the council really starts to feel like a family of people who want to make a difference for the experience of engineering students across the province. Connecting all these students with different experiences is really rewarding on its own, and when we are able to work together to push for change for engineering students, it’s an incredible feeling. Now that I get to be a part of the general ESSCO council (as the VP Communications for Waterloo B) I have a great appreciation for the whole thing. I’ve made some close friends through ESSCO and learned from a lot from some student leaders I admire.

In which ways has your experience as ESSCO VP Comm prepared you for the position within Waterloo Engineering Society?

Being ESSCO VP Comm before becoming VP Comm (our equivalent VP External position) was incredibly helpful! It allowed me to go into my role with a really solid understanding of ESSCO, since I had already been attending ESSCO conferences and plenary sessions over the year before. It made me more confident and determined to make sure my school got value out of organizations like ESSCO and the CFES. I also got to see the VP Externals do their roles for a full year, which helped me understand how I could best represent my own school at the provincial and national levels. My actual role on ESSCO helped me with a lot of the day-to-day managing I do with Waterloo now too!  



What was your proudest accomplishment as ESSCO VP Comm / Executive team?

Honestly I know my team did a lot of positive work for the organization, and I was really proud to be a part of ESSCO for my whole term. A moment that comes to mind is when we passed a motion to instate a director of Website Security. We’d been having discussions about it for a lot of my term and I put forward a motion for it at an ESSCO Teleconference. Right before the motion came up, my computer failed and I didn’t actually see it happen, but I was very relieved and proud when it passed.  

Which initiative are you most excited about in your position on Waterloo Engineering Society?

I love conferences, they’ve been the best part of my undergraduate experience and I’ve made some really great relationships with the people I’ve met. The most exciting part of my position now is that I have the opportunity to help other people get involved with ESSCO and the CFES. A lot of our student body at Waterloo doesn’t know about conferences, and I’ve been working to make them more transparent and available. We’ve recently launched a conference website and made a video (watch it here!) to encourage students to get involved. The video was filmed during the CFES Congress which is a week-long conference, so by the end of it I look pretty tired.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about extra-curriculars? What advice would you offer to students thinking about getting involved?

Do stuff you actually like with your “extra” time. Engineering can be draining, your extra-curricular shouldn’t be something that drains you too. My advice is to get involved with something you’re passionate about so that if and when it is work, at least it is something you enjoy. For me, that’s been being involved with engineering student politics through ESSCO and the CFES. I’ve found it really motivating to have something else besides school to put my time into. If you think you might want to be involved with your Engineering Society, I highly recommend you do, but there are lots of things out there.


I’d like to thank Melissa for taking the time to discuss her valuable involvement in engineering student politics, and wish her the best in future endeavors. If you would like more information on getting involved, don’t hesitate to reach out to your engineering society’s VP External (or equivalent position), or read more on essco.ca! 

Elections for ESSCO executive, including VP Comm are coming up at ESSCO AGM (Annual General Meeting) June 3-5, 2017. If you are thinking of running, feel free to reach out to current VP Comm, Jocelyn Lee, with any questions: vpcomm@essco.ca.

Author: Emma Kennedy

I’m a second year Nanotechnology Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. I currently serve as Outreach Commissioner for Waterloo Engineering Society ‘A’, and I’m excited to share our events traditions with students across Ontario! Outside of school, I love to travel, cook, play music, and see concerts.