Erika De Torres remembers the moment clearly: it was 2004, she was 12 years old and, after watching a fateful news segment on television, she understood the kind of difference she wanted to make in the world.
Three young Canadians had recently launched Apathy is Boring to reverse the country’s trend of declining voter participation. Already an active volunteer at non-profits in North Vancouver, Erika tuned in when one of the organization’s co-founders was discussing the importance of getting youth to the polls in the 2004 federal election.
“I realized it was a really important mission in order for our democracy to function,” she says. “I had stars in my eyes.”
Erika deepened this interest at SFU through her coursework as a political science and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies double-major. She thoroughly followed her passion for community engagement outside of the classroom, too, taking on leadership roles with the Simon Fraser Student Society’s Women's Centre and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Student Union, working as a campus tour guide and supporting other students in getting involved in campus life as a peer engagement educator.
Then, in another twist of fate, Erika moved to Montreal—Apathy is Boring’s home base—for graduate school. She didn’t know the organization was headquartered in the city until she attended one of their events with a friend. Later, Erika landed a job as Apathy is Boring’s director of impact and development, where she now conducts research, fundraising and evaluations to support their programming. She has continued her full-circle moment by chairing the SFU Alumni Association’s awards committee—it’s inspiring, she says, to see how many people’s journeys of making an impact started, just like hers, at SFU.
“My entire experience at SFU encouraged me to be an engaged person. It really prepared me for what I’m doing right now.”