Three Information Services Attendants at Hart House ‒ most likely the first people that visitors to the House will encounter this Fall ‒ discuss what the House means to them, offer advice to incoming and returning students, and share what they’re most anticipating as September 2022 approaches.
Angelina Fernandez, Jennie Kim and Nidhil Vohra, three knowledgeable and welcoming student staff members working at Hart House, are eagerly awaiting new and returning students and community members this Fall.
In their roles as Information Services Attendants, working at the Information Hub and the Hart House Fitness Centre, they engage with visitors everyday as one of the first points of contact.
“I love working at Hart House as it has given me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, whether they’re students, community members or alumni who continue to come for years. It’s nice to be able to interact with them and hear about their experiences at Hart House,” says Angelina who is going into her third year at the University of Toronto, double majoring in English and history.
Nidhil, a third-year student double majoring in political science and peace, conflict and justice, describes some of the duties. “If you're working in the Hart House Fitness Centre, then you’re helping clients out with questions, selling memberships or setting up volleyball nets. Basically, making sure everything is running smoothly in the day-to-day activities.”
"It's a job that requires being well-rounded and adaptable, as the responsibilities are very dynamic in nature,” Jennie explains, adding, “Hart House has helped me to improve many of my personal skills, such as resilience.” She is also heading into third year, majoring in the criminology and socio-legal studies program, and double minoring in sociology and English.
Clearly, the House means a great deal to them.
“Hart House has enriched my student experience and offered me so many opportunities that I would have never dreamt of having otherwise. It's a space where many bonds are made; a very inclusive space where everyone is welcome,” Jennie says.
“Our slogan is ‘Hart House For You’, and it truly is a welcoming environment – a home away from home. As I like to say, home is where the ‘Hart’ is,” adds Angelina.
Nidhil describes how his idea of the House evolved over time: “It started off as a building at U of T where I could go to use the gym. But it has turned into a second home.”
He is energized by the House. “The second I walk into Hart House, I'm rejuvenated.” Time flies for him in his job. “Regardless as to whether I’ve worked a long shift or not, the time just zips past. To me, it's a place where I love being.”
The Trio Offers Excellent Advice for Students
Angelina encourages students to check out Hart House. “It’s a great place to meet new people, study, relax and listen to students playing the piano, join Clubs that fit your interests, or recharge and stay active at the Fitness Centre. I believe it’s a place that every U of T student should visit during their academic career.”
Kicking himself for not having discovered Hart House in his first few years at U of T, Nidhil advises students to get involved as soon as possible. He tells them: “If it's the first thing you do, just walk into Hart House, go to the Information Hub, find out everything that's going on. I promise you there's going to be at least one thing that will excite you, entice you, draw you in ... And before you know it, you'll be standing there with your diploma, your degree is over, and you'll realize that Hart House was such an important part of your university experience.”
He emphasizes how students can find out what’s going on via the many Instagram accounts and other social media accounts. “Once I started keeping up with this stuff, I realized that Hart House has so much to offer! The Hart House Camera Club, the Hart House Film Board, a Hip Hop Advisor Marcus Singleton. I went to every single one of Marcus’ sessions. He and I talked a lot. None of that would have been possible if I didn't know what Hart House has to offer.”
A Place for Recharging Energy and Wellness
Angelina highlights the importance of a balanced life, with which Hart House can help. “I would urge students, whether they are new or returning to U of T, to work hard to achieve their personal goals, but also know their limits because academic burnout is a challenging hurdle. Visiting Hart House can be a welcome reprieve outside of academics.”
Jennie also underscores wellness. “It's important to prioritize your health, take things at your own pace. U of T is a competitive environment, but it's important to remember your health. Hart House is truly a space that encourages wellness, a very holistic space. You can recharge there, and there are a bunch of things you can do through Club activities or events.”
Looking Forward to Familiar Faces
All three are greatly anticipating Fall at Hart House. Having started work in December 2020, Nidhil is anticipating experiencing the House once restriction have been lifted, with luck.
Angelina started working during the summer, when more COVID protocols were still in effect. “It feels like things are finally getting back to normal. I'm looking forward to seeing what Hart House has to offer ‒ different events, as well as the emergence of more Club activities. It's going to be great to see all the new faces and some familiar faces returning back too.”
Jennie, who started working at the House in October 2021, has also witnessed the House during COVID. As a result, she is “excited to see everything open up, more Clubs coming back; and to see old and new faces. I'm excited to make new friendships here and meet new people.”