As we start the 2023-2024 academic year, we’re checking in with the newly elected leaders of CivMin’s various clubs. Here’s our Q&A with Civ Club Chair Parsa Bondar Sahebi (CivE, Year 4):
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Parsa Bondar Sahebi: My name is Parsa, and I am a fourth-year Civil Engineering student. I am interested in the construction management aspect of civil engineering, as people fascinate me and being part of a team bringing massive projects to life really inspires me.
What is Civ Club?
Parsa: We are an organization that helps students, especially students in Civil Engineering. Engineering students tend to focus on academics a lot, but sometimes it’s good to take a break. This is an experience. University is for you to build yourself. We try to focus on social aspects as well. We’re just a bunch of students trying to help other students have a better and easier time at university.
What does Civ Club do?
Parsa: The three main aspects we focus on are social, academic and professional development. In terms of the social aspect, mental health is a priority for us. We have a director focusing on wellness for students. Currently, we’re in the planning phases and brainstorming events for the students. For professional development, we want to focus on giving students an idea of what they can expect in the workforce by hosting guests from industry. In terms of academics, we have online review sessions before midterms and finals, hosted by the upper years.
How did you get involved in Civ Club?
Parsa: In my first year at U of T, I attended a dinner and the first person I met was the President of Civ Club. They supported me and told me what to expect in university, how the Civ Club was there to help and what events were happening. After learning about Civ Club, I joined the mentorship program. My mentor was a third-year student who shared all their experiences. Since then, I’ve always been involved or actively part of Civ Club and have consistently been engaged in events. In my third year, I was finance director and oversaw the club’s finances. As a fourth–year student, I decided to take the lead and help other students as Chair.
What types of events does Civ Club have planned for this year?
Parsa: Each director is coming up with a list of events they want to have each month. For the first month of the school year, our social team is partnering with our mentorship team to organize an event targeting first-year students. We also have wellness events and academic review sessions throughout the year. I’ve also already begun reaching out to industry professionals to invite them to join us for an event focused on professional development.
Our biggest event of the year is the Dinner Dance, with 200 to 300 students, attended by professors and staff. We planned the Dinner Dance in the summer for November 3, 2023, to lessen the workload during the fall semester. Dinner Dance is an opportunity to meet new people, enjoy time with your friends and network with professors. It also shows the community you’re a part of. The engineering community is small; you’re going to cross paths with your university peers in the engineering industry.
Does Civ Club have any new initiatives starting this year?
Parsa: Our approach has been to change and improve our previous approaches. Mentorship, for example, will be different. Over the past few years, our mentorship program has encouraged first-year students to sign up to connect with upper-year mentors. There’d be group chats and events. I’ve noticed this is good for the first few months but doesn’t have much value beyond then.
This year, our mentorship director is considering lowering the number of mentors and having them create TikTok content for students to try to engage them through a different medium. We want to provide students with the best tips we can give them in these short videos. We plan to still have in-person events for them. We want to ensure we achieve the goal of the mentorship program, which is to help first-year students have an easier transition. [INSERT TIK TOK HANDLE WHEN MADE]
Is there somewhere students can typically find Civ Club members?
Parsa: Our common room is in Galbraith Building, GB123, and you can find either me or one of the directors there the majority of the time. If I’m not in class, I’m probably in the common room. It’s a good space to study, eat and hang out. There’s also a back room with a blackboard where you can study with friends.
We have a common space director this year who’s going to take over the space and make sure it looks good and engages the students. We usually decorate it for Halloween, and we have Christmas events. We also have a foosball table and a foosball tournament.
Do you have any helpful hints for new students to be successful academically and socially?
Parsa: Take it day-by-day, step-by-step. It’s a lot, especially when you’re a first-year student. The best thing you can do is focus on the day. Focus on taking the next step, even if it’s hard, and know there are people around to help you. There are always people willing to help. I’m so grateful for the experience I had, for my friends and for the upper years. Everyone is there to help you. Remember you’re in it together and you’re doing this for a reason. As an engineer, you can give back to the community. Just remember why you’re doing this and take it step–by–step.
Do you have any favourite places on campus?
Parsa: My favourite spot on campus is the common room. There’s another cool unique spot in Bahn. If you take the elevator to the third floor and walk a little bit to the end, there are two tables with four seats. It’s such a quiet place to just sit down. Not many people know about it. In terms of eating, I usually just go to the food truck to get something fast to eat and then go do schoolwork, especially when I’m super busy.
How can students get involved in Civ Club?
Parsa: Definitely follow our Instagram page. We post all the information about events and tips there. For big events, we send emails. You’ll also see your year’s representatives visiting to connect with classes. You can even apply to be your year’s representative. And tell us what you, as students, want. We want to know if you have an idea for an event or want to see certain types of events. You can always come talk to us when you see us on campus. Come say hi, I’d love to have a conversation. Put yourself out there and show up to events. Every time I showed up to an event I didn’t want to go to, it ended up being great.
If you’re a first-year student, you can get involved as a first-year representative. We’ll have information about that coming out soon. We’ve already hired our team for this year, which is typically done before the fall term begins. If you want to get involved this year, come to our events and meet the executives. They’ll be the ones running the club next year, as I’ll be graduating. And the notifications about hiring for next year will be sent through Instagram, so stay tuned. If you’re interested, definitely give it a shot. Maybe you’ll end up running the club.
Do you have any interesting hobbies or talents you’d like to share?
Parsa: When you start your PEY, you have much more free time than you do in school. I bought myself an electric guitar. I’ve been learning over the past year, and it’s been going well. I downloaded an app and started teaching myself. I also like reading. It’s a chance for you to read about other ideas and reflect. It’s immensely helpful.
Full list of 2023/2024 Civ Club Executives:
President: Parsa Bondar Sahebi
Vice Chair: Zaina Nofal
Finance Director: Abaidullah Arif
Social Director: Caralina Li
Social Director: Dana Bou Saab
Wellness Director: Asim Ahmad
Marketing Director: Um Ul Baneen Kazmi
Academic Director: Ike Arzoumanian
Mentorship Director: Oleksandra Boiko
Business Director: Pallav Sengupta
Webmaster: Kaiser Islam
By Rachael Gallant