Student leaders reinvigorate the BGIS Student Club and set future members up for success

2023 President’s Student Leadership Award recipient BGIS Student Club

SAIT’s BGIS Student Club builds meaningful and supportive connections between students in SAIT’s Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems (BGIS) program and industry professionals. The Club bridges the gap between students and industry while also fostering friendships among students, graduates, and GIS enthusiasts.

“We are an incredibly hard-working small club and are doing all we can to enhance the opportunities and experiences for our members,” says BGIS student and Club President Valerie Caden-Baptiste.

When Caden-Baptiste and her fellow current Club Executives got involved, the Club was coming through a difficult post-COVID transition. With only two semesters on campus, continuity for Club membership and direction can be difficult, and this was only exacerbated due to the pandemic’s disruption.

“Our program is short, you’re typically only at SAIT for two semesters,” explains Caden-Baptiste. “So, historical knowledge can get lost.” When she and the team took over as Executives, they prioritized succession planning and resource documentation so that future Club members could hit the ground running. They recently finished a BGIS Executives Club Handbook to help guide and inform future Executives.

“We’re hoping that future members will be able to leap forward from what we’ve established.” The handbook outlines how to organize and promote events, as well as general advice and best practices. “Having this information in advanced can save time and effort for future student executives, who are students too.”

Throughout the past year, the Club has hosted a series of Lunch and Learns, where representatives from industry are invited to speak to students about career opportunities and how GIS technology is used on a day-to-day basis. Students are encouraged to stay after the presentation concludes to ask questions and make connections for potential practicum placements.

In November, the Club helped support GIS Day, which brought in BGIS students, graduates, and industry representatives to celebrate all things GIS. The club has also held various social events and fundraised to purchase Christmas presents for a family in need through SAITSA’s Adopt-A-Family program.

When she reflects on her proudest achievement during her tenure as President, Caden-Baptiste says the Club’s Industry Night in March stands out.

“I’m proud of our industry night,” she says. “We had more than 100 people attend and had to promote the event, invite industry representatives, and raise the funds to pay for it. And because we’re students, we’re all already very busy. But we pulled it off!”

Through their demonstrated dedication to creating opportunities and advancements for SAIT, their fellow students, industry, and the community, the BGIS Student Club was awarded the 2023 President’s Student Leadership Award.

“Being acknowledged for the hard work we put into this club is a great feeling,” reflects Caden-Baptiste. “There are lots of great and established clubs at SAIT, so it feels gratifying to get recognition for our efforts and make a lasting impact.”