Colleen Rennie

Age: 24
Hometown: Beamsville, ON

Colleen Rennie is from Beamsville, Ontario, where her mother, father, and 2 older brothers live, but resides in Waterloo, Ontario. Colleen recently graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an undergrad in History and has chosen to go back to school to further pursue her passion and hopeful career in the field of mental health and education, specifically aimed towards the care and counselling of children, youth and their families. Colleen is a self-advocate for both her local communities and peers through public forum platforms and through social media advocacy. In November of 2015 Colleen was honoured the opportunity to be the Keynote Speaker for the 69th Annual Special Education Conference, for the Council of Exceptional Children where she spoke of her journey; where she has been with mental illness and a learning disability and her wellbeing now.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou

Colleen is dedicated to not only speaking up in change in Canadian mental health, education and our youth, but to see that change is being made, no matter how big or small. Colleen is very passionate about her service efforts, especially in high risk, vulnerable areas such as suicide prevention.

Being an active volunteer and member of organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Addiction and Mental Health, Big Brother Big Sister, United Way Oxford County and the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care Counsellors Colleen believes that learning is a ongoing journey that and that it does not just happen in a classroom, there is literally something new to learn every day, as she claims, “that’s what keeps life so exhilarating, is that each day can be seen as new beginning, there is always something to be grateful for, especially the lesson that every failure can be used as an accessed opportunity for growth, versus defeat. ”

Colleen lives and breathes enthusiasm. She loves to play soccer, swim and go running, especially with her dogs while at home, outside, through the vines of her vineyard. She can be described as “humble, understanding, compassionate, and influential.”

One of her biggest encouragements to individuals of all ages is to be authentically themselves, as Colleen believes that without the authenticity of self, we lose the power of our voice and purpose. Moreover, in Canada we have choice and the liberty of freedom, but with that comes a responsibility to be a contributing member of society one way or another. Every influential leader and thinker in this world had the same amount of days and hours as we have today, but its how we choose to use those hours that define how big or small our impact can be in this world.

“Take more risks than required,” like taking a spontaneous chance such as applying to the Miss Universe Canada pageant in the hopes of having an opportunity to use one’s voice for continuous efforts in mental health and effect change on a national scale. Nothing changes, if nothing changes, and Colleen believes she can be that change.