Former Lancer athlete Meaghan Marton BA ’15 has begun her post-graduate life by setting a pretty high standard. But this one didn’t happen on a track.
In just the three years since earning her combined degree in psychology and women’s studies, Marton has already won a national award for her volunteer work.
She obtained one of 50 Outstanding Canadian Grants, awards given by Shaw Communication. “It was a pretty surreal experience,” she says. “I was definitely not expecting it. When I received the email, I broke down in tears—happy ones, of course.”
Perhaps Marton wasn’t expecting the recognition, but she clearly deserved it.
Case in point: in May 2015, she started a youth boxing program at Border City Boxing in Windsor, Ont.
The initiative stemmed from her attendance at ACTIVATE, a national youth leadership summit that inspires, trains and supports youth leaders to develop and begin sports and physical activity projects in their community. “It was life-changing,” she says of the summit. “It made me understand that impact and change I could really make as a young person.”
ACTIVATE is a part of Motivate Canada, a Canadian non-profit that empowers youth through sports and recreation. Marton donated her $1,500 Shaw award money to Motivate, calling it “a catalyst for all the action I've taken to make a difference.
“It shows young people that they can make a difference at any age and they can follow their passion and heart.”
When Marton returned from the ACTIVATE summit, she was tasked with creating an Activate in Action program in the Windsor community. With the support of the Border City Boxing Club and a grant from ParticipACTION, she creating youth boxing classes.
The classes offered, not only the opportunity for young people to be active, it also gave those with high skills the chance to teach others. Marton says that parents thanked her for creating the program because it also improved their children’s lives outside of the gym. “The confidence and courage they grew was more important than the skill level of boxing they attained. That’s what made it so worthwhile.”
Marton subsequently worked at the YMCA as a facilitator for youth programs for new Canadians. She oversaw an integration and leadership program designed to provide peer support and enrichment opportunities for newcomer youths.
Through Motivate, Marton facilitated five youth leadership conferences across the province, that “encourage, motivate and give youth the tools to make a difference.”
Born in Amherstburg, Ont, Marton enrolled at the University of Windsor as a double major in Psychology and Women’s Studies, qualifying as an Outstanding Scholar. She was recruited by former Lancer Track and Field coach Dennis Fairall as a long-distance runner.
Though she was sought after by other schools, “none compared to the spirit and family like atmosphere I found with the Windsor Lancers.”
She immediately fell in love with the Women’s Studies program. “After my first few classes, I knew I was supposed to be there.”
Marton chalks up some of her inspiration to do good to what she learned in women’s studies. “I learned that everyone has an impact with whatever they do,” she says. “So I figured, if I’m going to live this life, why not do something that’s going to impact someone positively?”
Women's studies, she notes, “truly opened my eyes to the problems and issues in our world like sexism, racism and globalization. It helped me recognize my place in the world and gave me the confidence to make a difference.”
Marton believes that the psychology program helped her become a better person, “because I'm better able to understand the psychology of why someone may do or say something, or recognize how their social background and upbringing may also affect them.”
Outside of her volunteer work, the graduate is a wellness advocate and essential oils distributor with the doTERRA company. “I educate people on the safe yet beneficial uses of oils.”
Her goal is to broaden the position into her own non-profit organization to bring more compassion into people's lives. “Helping people recognize the beauty they have inside of them and that they deserve to feel good in and outside of their bodies is what motivates me.”
In addition to her youth work, she’s volunteered with the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society, which then led her across the border to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, a non-profit animal rescue group.
Marton would like to one day open her own sanctuary or rescue group for animals. Or, perhaps, start her own foundation and set up a facility where people can learn about them.
In her spare time, she enjoys rock climbing and travel. At the time of her interview, she was in the midst a trip across the U.S. It’s part of her desire “to see the world and learn new things by living.”
Where does Marton see herself in five years? “Travelling around the world, teaching workshops on compassion and giving motivational speeches to youth,” she says. “I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of those I meet.
“I find where I'm needed, and how I can help.”