Leadership, road trips and transferable skills: Highlights from the Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner

- January 10, 2014

Rose Cousins interacts with Tigers student-athletes during a question and answer period.

The fourth-annual Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner made one message abundantly clear; the skills one develops as a student-athlete are the skills needed to be successful in life. 

More than 250 people gathered at the McInnes Room at Dalhousie University for the event which has grown tremendously in size since the first year the fundraiser was held in 2010. The Tigers women’s basketball and volleyball teams partnered with the Harwood Group and TD Bank to host the dinner, which spotlights the successes of current, former and future Dalhousie student-athletes. Most importantly, the fundraiser celebrates the role and growth of women in leadership.

The event featured some of Dalhousie’s all-star student athletes, along with presentations from the coaches of the women’s volleyball and basketball teams. Rick Scott, coach of the women’s volleyball team praised his athletes, “Not only are these girls talented academically and physically, they’re genuinely a great group of people with lots of personality.” To compliment Scott’s statement a member of the women’s basketball team, Ainsley MacIntyre, shared details about her experience volunteering in developing countries. MacIntryre spoke about how lucky she feels after meeting the young girls in these areas. She shared, “I didn’t realize how lucky we are here, even just to have the opportunity to choose our own destiny.”

 Aspiring sports broadcaster and member of the women’s volleyball team, Raeesa Lalani, graciously greeted the special guest for the evening, Rose Cousins, by singing a beautiful version of Rose’s song, Go First. Cousins is a Dalhousie alumna and a Juno award winner; she had recently returned from a six-week tour in Australia and thought it was important to take time out of her busy schedule for the event.

Cousins shared stories about her years at Dalhousie. She was a member of the Tigers volleyball team from 1995-1999 and went on to work at Dalhousie for six years. She fulfilled multiple positions within the student union, Dalhousie External Relations and was a mental trainer for multiple Tigers varsity teams. She humorously claimed, “If you could get a master’s degree in extracurricular activities, I would have one.” Since her time at Dalhousie she has released three full-length albums. Her album We Have Made a Spark (2012) won the 2013 Juno Award for best solo roots & traditional album of the year.

Cousins spoke about how she struggled in her first year at Dalhousie and how she found it difficult transitioning from a small town in PEI to what seemed to her at least, “the big city of Halifax”. She explained how being part of the volleyball team helped her develop social, time management and self-discipline skills, the skills that are crucial to possess in a career as a successful entrepreneur.

Cousins said that before she knew it she was pursuing her passion for leadership as vice president of Dalhousie’s student union. “I love leadership as much as I hate authority and rules,” she chuckled. Cousins’ kind heart and humor shined through her as she told the audience about her experiences as a leader at Dalhousie. The audience laughed after she said, “You learn the most about a person during road trips, board games and sports.”

During an improvised question and answer period between Cousins and the student-athletes she was asked how road trips as a volleyball player have helped her in her current career. She responded, “Road trips have provided me with lots of transferable skills, planning road trips as an athlete is a lot like planning events in my career.” Cousins made it clear that the skills and traits she developed as a student athlete were the skills and traits she needed to succeed in not just her career, but any career. Cousins praised her fellow alumna volleyball players for being some of the most amazing people she had ever met and credited psychology professor Dr. Carolyn Savoy for giving her the confidence she needed to realize her career goals.

Cousins never thought of herself as a woman in leadership but, “a leader who just happens to be a female”. She proved with her story that the struggles female student-athletes face during their time at school pay off in the long run. She also proved herself to be an extraordinary role model for any aspiring entrepreneurs.

All in all, this celebration of women in leadership was a huge success. The fifth annual dinner is expected to be held around the same time next year and event planners hope to expand the event even more each year.


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