Ola Szopiak, bubbly, bright, usually laughing, teasing, or at the very least smiling, is one of the most incredible people to grace the University of Alberta’s campus. Her abilities reach far past the typical “creative, organized, passionate” adjectives normally used in college reference letters and job applications. Ola has the innate ability to transfer her best qualities to others, whether by instilling her crazy passions and values in students across the university, or somehow turning serious friends into temporary goofballs.
Ola uses her gifted leadership skills, silly sarcasm, and positive attitude to run one of the University of Alberta’s dedicated student groups—the Health and Wellness Movement. A living breathing example of how to turn being healthy into a dance party (anyone who has seen her teach zumba knows exactly how fun Ola’s version of health is), she is able to encourage students across campus to put down the bad habits, pick up an apple, and get a little de-stressing exercise in before class. Beyond her amazing attitude, Ola is one of the most dedicated workers I have seen. Where others would have quit when planning certain events seemed too daunting, or maybe just gone to bed, she has rallied a team around her, kept everyone’s energy high, and pulled off some amazing projects (Amazing Race U of A edition, health proposals, fruit stands, Health Week planning—you name it, this girl can do it).
Beyond her role as president of the Health and Wellness Movement, Ola has had leadership positions ranging from being a U of A orientation team facilitator, where she used her hilarious sense of humor to encourage a lecture theatre full of meek orientation leaders to turn into crazy cheerful students, to a hospital volunteer, where she applied her life experience and course work to making sick patients’ days a little bit easier. Wherever she ends up after graduating from her undergraduate science degree this year—working on public health campaigns, studying in business school, ending world hunger, becoming the next superman…er…woman, she will be leaving behind some giant shoes to fill, some pretty awesome stories, and a lot of friends who will miss her dearly. All I can say is, if everyone were to take all the good Ola has contributed to the world and pay it forward, this planet would be bursting with kindness, happiness, and a mountain of laughter.