A CBC Q&A: London city council mentor program inspires students

Floranda Agroam and Emaan Ali have been tailing London city councillors for months. The two King's University College students say they're inspired to pursue careers in politics.
Floranda Agroam, left, and Emaan Ali share their experiences after completing a mentoring program with two London city councillors. (Gary Ennett/CBC)

Shadowing two London city councillors for several months has further inspired Floranda Agroam and Emaan Ali to pursue careers in politics.

The two King's University College students spent several hours a week, since February, working with municipal mentors and learning the inner workings of city hall and political office. 

Agroam partnered up with Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park, while and Ali worked with Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins.

In an interview with CBC's Afternoon Drive host, Bob Steele, Agroam and Ali talk about how the program influenced them over several months.

How are you feeling about the time you spent? Was it eye opening?

Agroam: The impact was extraordinary for me. I entered the mentorship thinking about applying a gender lens to politics. I didn't really understand what I wanted to be passionate about. But working with Coun. Park, it was more just about who I am and what role I could play. I looked at my impact as a young Muslim woman in this community.

Ali: The entire program was not only an internship, but also a mentorship. It wasn't just about learning about municipal government, learning about the operation of different boards, different committees. For me, it was also about relationship building. That's something that absolutely resonated with me and something that will definitely carry on with me, more than throughout my university experience, but throughout my life.

Part of this was to see if a career in politics, even at the municipal level, might be something you would consider. Has this experience helped you think about that a bit more?

Agroam: I was really considering a role in politics. Even after this mentorship has finished, I'm still considering a role in politics. I recently ran for London Youth Advisory Council. This was recommendation by Coun. Park. She felt this was a really good way for me to get my voice out there and talk about issues that are important to me. This is just one step in my path in politics. I wouldn't mind continuing this path because I really enjoy it.

Ali: Politics is still an option for me. This internship with councillor Hopkins has really given me the opportunity to get engaged in a way that matters to me and matters to women more generally. I'm also working as a special assistant right now with Coun. [Mohammed] Salih in Ward 3, so that's been another really interesting chance to engage in politics and continue my participation in the political realm."

Listen to more from the Afternoon Drive interview here, starting at 5:40 p.m.