Jayse Van Rooyen has always loved volunteering in her community, and she’ll have even more opportunities to get out there as she embarks on the British Columbia Ambassador Program.
Van Rooyen, 20, loved participating in the Ladysmith Ambassador program so much that she wanted to take the next step and sign up for the provincial program this year.
The program is open to any young man or woman aged 17 to 23 who has previously held an Ambassador/Royal title in B.C.
Van Rooyen was a Ladysmith Princess for 2010-11 and was named Miss Congeniality.
“It was really cool I got crowned with my two best friends,” she said. “We had a really great year. It was awesome.”
Van Rooyen, who grew up on lighthouses but moved to Ladysmith when she was five, graduated from Ladysmith Secondary School in 2010. Last year, she took a year off to focus on the Ambassador program and work at In the Beantime Café to save money for school. Van Rooyen started her Bachelor of Arts at Vancouver Island University this fall, and she wants to become a school counsellor.
Van Rooyen became interested in the Ladysmith Ambassador program through her friend Janna Bastian, who works at the Beantime as well and was an Ambassador. She told Van Rooyen she should get involved because she loves volunteering so much. As well, the Rotary Club — which was her sponsor — and particularly Michael Furlot helped encourage Van Rooyen to participate.
“I had a lot of mentors telling me I would love it,” she said. “Being part of another fun group and getting myself involved in my town were reasons for me to do it. It really helped my self-confidence and public speaking.”
One of the main reasons Van Rooyen wanted to be part of the Ambassador program is that she loves volunteering.
“It’s probably the only thing I do,” she laughed. “It’s the only hobby I have.”
Throughout high school, Van Rooyen volunteered in many different ways, including as a candy striper, head of student council, a mentor, and member of the yearbook committee and co-editor of the student newspaper. Van Rooyen was also part of the grad committee, and she was a valedictorian.
One of Van Rooyen’s favourite volunteering experiences was the two years she volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, mentoring an eight-year-old boy.
“Any opportunity that came up, I was like ‘I’d love to do that,’” she said.
Van Rooyen is excited for the B.C. Ambassador program because it has even more components than the Ladysmith program. The provincial program nurtures provincial leaders and encourages young people to get involved in government, as well as helps with post-secondary education, explained Van Rooyen.
“It encourages you to travel all over B.C. and see what else is out there,” she said. “It’s more about knowledge about our province and volunteering in your community and really loving where you’re from.”
For the B.C. Ambassador program, Van Rooyen will have to take a three-hour knowledge test on B.C., do a presentation about Ladysmith, do an interview with the judges and participate in a speech and talent night. There are 14 candidates this year, and three Ambassadors will be chosen to represent the youth of B.C.
“I think this is kind of my one last step to this,” said Van Rooyen. “I loved the Ladysmith Ambassador program. I just really love the B.C. Ambassador parogram and what it’s all about. I’m really excited. I think when you go into these programs, everyone wins something. You either gain self-confidence, or you can even get a scholarship. I really like that, and I really like how positive it is and how supportive everybody is of each other.”
Van Rooyen feels it is great to have so much community support behind her, especially from the Rotary Club — which sponsored her in the Ladysmith Ambassador program and is sponsoring her in the B.C. program — the women on the Ambassador Committee, and her family.
“You have so many people behind you,” she said.
“It’s not really a one-man show.”