Natalie Borden (BScPH’94) says personal growth and diverse representation are what motivate her to volunteer. As the College of Pharmacy’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year Award recipient and the first Black leader of HRM’s Board of Police Commissioners, we sat down with Natalie to chat about her volunteer experiences inside and outside the Dal community.

How long have you volunteered at Dalhousie, and in what capacities? 

I make a point to volunteer my time at Dal as much as I can, whether through working as a lab demonstrator, helping with admissions interviews, or through the Dal Insight Circle.

What inspired you to become a Dal volunteer?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career and have my education from Dal to thank. I’ve built strong connections here. As a student I was a lab demonstrator, so I carry that experience forward any way I can. Part of my love of volunteering is to give back, but the other part is for fun. Through volunteering, I learn as much from those I meet as I hope they learn from me.

I’ve also been giving my time to interviewing students for Dalhousie Medical School and the College of Pharmacy for many years. As a Black woman playing a role in the admissions process, I feel it’s important that prospective students can see themselves in someone like me. It brings a sense of comfort, supporting diversity where there are potential impacts on health outcomes.

What is the best experience you’ve had as a Dal volunteer? 

Through the medical school admissions, there was an invite to help craft questions for upcoming interviews. Being part of that and really being able to identify the key issues that need to be asked of current students from a professional and personal perspective was very empowering. It’s a collaborative process. I learn about a medical education while offering my perspective.

Recommended reading: Learn how you can help influence important university initiatives and decisions through the Dal Insight Circle.

You are an active volunteer outside of Dal too. What inspires you to be so involved in your community? 

Volunteering can be a significant time commitment, so I like to choose things that I find interesting. My

volunteerism at HRM’s Board of Police Commissioners, for example, was born from a desire to learn more about street checks. I felt it was time for me to get involved and to educate myself, to bring about positive change.

I’ve also volunteered with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society since 2015 (seen right), and that was born out of a desire to learn more about governance. I sit on the advisory committee for judicial appointments and felt that aligned with my police and legal experience. It allows me to bring my perspective to that work. I apply learnings from my volunteer experiences to shape new ones and to help make better recommendations.

What is your favourite memory of Dal?

I remember starting at Dalhousie’s College of Pharmacy in 1989. There was a reception held for incoming pharmacy students. I remember what I wore – I had new shoes on. I was so excited to meet people I’d be going to school with. It was the start of some friendships I still have today. That feeling of excitement to start that journey and be a part of the profession. I still have that same excitement today when a new opportunity presents itself.

If you could give any advice to a Dal alum interested in volunteering, what would it be? 

I encourage everyone to get involved in some small way, to give the time you can. Part of the success of Dal is that success. You get what you put in. Find those experiences that appeal to you. It all contributes to the greater good, and you’ll always enjoy it, professional and personally.

Learn more about the benefits of volunteering with Dalhousie.