Larissa Chen is a 2018 RADIUS Fellow, Procurement Manager with Virogin Biotech Ltd, Founder of Boues, Communications Specialist & Board Member with Bridge For Health and one of Surrey’s 2018 Top 25 Under 25. Connect with her by email at chenlrss[at]gmail.com or on LinkedInLarissa, along with all of the 2018 RADIUS Fellows, will be presenting at concAUCTION – RADIUS’ annual networking auction and Fellows celebration – on May 15th. Get your tickets today!

Photos by Matt Hanns Schroeter

Every morning, I used to start off my routine with a cup of coffee. I loved how it made me feel – energized and ready to take on the day – I believed that was me at my best. In pursuit of the best version of myself, I joined the RADIUS Fellowship program as I was finishing my degree in Population & Quantitative Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and looking for direction after graduation.

Throughout my undergraduate years, I worked in research, student governance, large-scale event planning, communications & marketing, and the list goes on, but I still felt misguided. I remembered my experience in RADIUS’ first cohort of Health Change Lab in 2016, and wanted to rediscover the explorative sense of self and enthusiastic community engagement I developed during that program. With the Fellowship, I yearned to find my people, a group of like-minded and curious locals, keen to discover, learn and strengthen our Vancouver community. I knew I was passionate about many issues and wanted to make an impact, but also wanted to become more intentional with my energy and efforts.
Soon enough, RADIUS became my compass through a perplexing transition period. I realized what I truly needed was structured self-reflection, and sought to grow more in-tune with myself. With each weekly Fellows session, retreats, seminars, coaching and networking event, I was determined to bring my best self to every RADIUS activity. Then, in a light bulb moment, I came to terms with the ‘RADIUS Effect’.

What is the ‘RADIUS Effect’? For me, when I enter RADIUS spaces after a long work day, my weary and fatigued self transforms into a spirited and attentive individual, lost in the awe of learning and fully present with my thoughts. I’ve noticed it’s so easy to be my best self, because somehow the RADIUS Effect takes over my headspace and spirit. The Fellowship sessions have challenged my own assumptions, habits, and routines, but also encouraged me to question and explore my blind spots and areas for development – particularly in discussions surrounding power and oppression, reconciliation in Canada, conflict transformation, and other complex issues.

As I continue to learn about fields outside of my comfort zone, I do so within the understanding, kindness, and resourceful support of my RADIUS family. More importantly, I’m building my toolkit of skills and knowledge; and the Fellowship has equipped me with an inclusive and open-minded lens to approach complex societal problems of today and tomorrow. In fact, I accompanied an SFU team visiting Victoria last month, to share existing activities and upcoming projects with ministers, and I heard an interesting statement: “These are complex societal problems and there’s no easy solution.” Immediately, I thought of my RADIUS experience – we must co-create and connect with our communities to approach these wicked problems. How can we work in isolation from our communities, when we ourselves are inherently so embedded within them?

Interestingly enough, my close friends have noticed a difference in me. I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned in the Fellowship to whoever is willing to listen, and become their biggest cheerleader in their ventures. Lately, my business partner has been commenting about how rejuvenated and lively I am; and strangers I meet during work will ask for my LinkedIn because they say I have this certain energy about me that is rare to find. Truth be told, I have to accredit a great deal of that to this sense of self I discovered during my Fellowship and engaging with my RADIUS family.

People used to refer to me as the “Caffeine Machine”, but nowadays, I wake up to a cup of green tea, an amazing podcast, and some mindfulness routines I learned through the Fellowship’s coaching program, and let my re-energized sense of learning, discovery and self-growth jumpstart each day. Right now, I truly feel I am at my best.

Connect with Larissa and the rest of the 2018 RADIUS Fellows at concAUCTION on May 15th! 

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