Humans of Skills for Change: Ruth Mengistu
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a Ryerson University graduate and hold a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Criminology, with a minor in Sociology. In my current role, I work with youth between the ages of 14-29, many of whom are permanent residents and convention refugees. In a typical week, I provide 1-1 counselling, develop and facilitate programs, conduct outreach, and operate our group mentoring services.
2. How did you get involved with Skills for Change?
I first got involved with Skills for Change as an intern. I received an e-newsletter from Ryerson about the Canada Summer Jobs program back in June of 2021 and stumbled upon an 8-week Settlement Worker position here. I spent the summer working with various departments and right before my contract ended, I applied for a position that had just become available. A month later, I started full-time as the new Youth Outreach Worker.
3. Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
A moment that stands out to me was when I was being interviewed by our CEO, Surranna, for the Youth Outreach Worker position. Towards the end, I had the opportunity to ask her about her recent experience studying at Harvard. Surranna was so passionate speaking about her program, colleagues, and studies. She even shared some external resources with me – it was pretty inspiring.
4. What are you most proud of in life?
I was the first person in my family to both attend and graduate university. At times, being a first-generation student, as well as an only child, was challenging – there were a handful of moments when I felt very lost. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own but, I’m pretty proud to say that I did it.
5. What inspires you?
My grandmother. She passed away several years ago but left an enduring impact on my life. She’s also the reason I spend a lot of my free time in the kitchen baking – my favourite way to de-stress aside from lacing up my hockey skates.
6. What’s the best advice you’ve received in life?
I once told my dad, “Sometimes it feels like I’m just treading water”. He replied, “Everyone feels like that now and then, but never stop swimming”. A pretty simple line, but for or some reason, it’s stuck with me ever since.
7. Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that not many people know of?
I’m the Assistant Coach of the Etobicoke Dolphins Bantam A girls hockey team! I was lucky enough to play for this incredible girl’s hockey organization throughout my childhood and teenage years. It’s pretty rewarding to now be able to give back. It’s been a real full-circle moment.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m looking forward to running our upcoming youth leadership program “Lead On” in January! If you know of any youth who may be interested, feel free to shoot me a message.