If you stand at the harbor front and look back North, you can see the beautiful lights of Toronto’s downtown. The CN Tower jets into the sky and on this night, it was lit up red and blue. There are so many things to love about this city, but I think the people especially impress me. Ontario Alpha Priyanka Chandran is one of the sisters that I met during my time in Ontario, Canada, and she impressed me with her dedication to Personal and Intellectual Growth, a core value we Pi Phis hold high.
A few months ago, Priyanka went back to her alma mater, Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She was asked to come back as the keynote speaker for a conference focused on first-year business students. In front of 500 students, she spoke about her journey through Rotman School as well as the leadership opportunities she was given through Pi Beta Phi.
It is surprising to know that this confident, accomplished woman used to always doubt herself. In fact, leading up to the speaking engagement, she needed a lot of practice to overcome her nervousness. Her Pi Phi sisters came to run-through presentations weeks before the event so Priyanka could be as prepared as possible. “It was nothing I asked for, but everything I needed,” Priyanka said, “There is no form of gratitude for how comforting their encouragement was.” Now, she is taking these sisterhood experiences to help develop a new group of future leaders.
Recently, Priyanka joined forces with Ontario Alpha Katerina Zhylko to start Visionelle Canada, a nonprofit organization in York Region Ontario that aims to connect high school students to alumni networks, develop meaningful life skills, and empower the next generation of leaders. They are testing the program out of Bayview Secondary School and sponsoring local events to help support networking and professional growth for these students. Although Priyanka and Katerina went to high school together, they did not meet until both joined Pi Beta Phi at the University of Toronto. The level of friendship and sisterhood combined with the opportunities that sorority membership gave them made the two think: why can’t everyone have this? Thus the idea for Visionelle Canada was born out of their passion for Pi Beta Phi. They look forward to providing thousands of students with the same opportunities they have been lucky to experience.