Fellows Guest Blog: Standing on the Peak with Steve Tornes

The RADIUS Fellowship is like hiking through the snow—trying to reach the next peak. 

The hike itself is indivisible; you can never forget the process or the realization that you have changed from beginning to end. But when you look back, you can also make out the footsteps that led you to the lookout point. 

When looking back at the Fellowship, every session and conversation is crystalized because of how meaningful it was. The RADIUS experience is hard to describe because it involves the part and the whole. What I can say is that every single person I have met through RADIUS is exceptional and kind and empathetic. The organizers, Aslam, Laura, and Nigel, have taught me how to grow and use my frantic energy to promote equity and empathy in my community. The facilitators have opened up my perspective by showing me new paths and journeys to take. My peers, who were so inspirational, made me want to do better just so I can stand with them.

When the pandemic hit, and the world began to physically distance, I was at first worried that this would hurt the RADIUS Fellowship experience, but as the weeks began to pile up, I realized that our weekly Zoom meetings helped to keep me grounded. By having a space when we met regularly, where people would genuinely ask you about how you were feeling, I did not feel socially isolated. It was a strong reminder about the need for social connection. It was the social solidarity I felt through my Fellowship cohort that helped me stay as strong as I did and keep my quarantine goals.

As a second-generation immigrant, I always felt disconnected from my ancestors, who spoke a different language and lived in places I have never been. After an amazing session led by Vanessa Richards, where we danced and remembered our ancestors, I realized how little I knew about them. How would they dance? How would we recognize each other? How did I get to where I am? 

That session reminded me of how isolated I felt in my family history, so I started to make a family tree. I reached out to family members and began using the Vancouver Public Library’s genealogical database. Once the tree was made, I began sharing the process and results with family, which we all bonded over. Because of that RADIUS Fellowship session, I feel more connected and balanced in my identity and history than ever.

In summary, the RADIUS Fellowship is an experience wholly unique. I see that I have become more secure in my identity and more directional in my approach, and that with those individual sessions and conversations, “I stand, not only with the sense of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts: that in this moment there is life and food for future years.” Standing on the peak, restlessly scanning the next mountain ridge with critical binoculars, I’m excited to put these experiences to practice.


The RADIUS Fellowship is made possible by funding from ShawScotiabank, Beedie School of Business, and the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.