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Kristina Milke, '94 BCom

Community is such a subjective word. We did not have it in our vision and mission statements in the early days of VMS.

Kristina Milke, '94 BCom


It came about after a couple of years in operation when we were revisiting these statements at a strategy session. It was so obvious and organic that when we think about it today, it’s hard to imagine the word not being part of who we are.

I think of community similar to how I think about people I meet. I'm so fortunate that my many roles give me the opportunity to meet an abundance of people, and I know they'll be involved in my life in very different ways. Some become part of a very close circle. Some are professional contacts while others are only acquaintances that I run into at events. The depth of relationships may change over time and some are only meant to be in my life for a finite time. I acknowledge that I get to choose the relationships that are worth the effort to nurture and of course, it has to be an agreement between both parties (even if it is a quiet agreement).

Communities are very similar. There is some type of vetting process even if it is not stated or formal. The existing members have to agree in some way to have you join and, most importantly, you have to have something to contribute even if it is as small as a comforting smile for another member. We often join communities deliberately but many times we join a community without that intent. It is truly a gift when that happens. One day, it hits you that you've found a group of individuals that share a core belief in something that is ultimately really important to you.

some people become part of a very close circle

In my life I have chosen communities that ultimately were not what was anticipated and subsequently had to find a way to remove myself. VMS is the unexpected community of the best kind. Something that I interviewed to join, with the expectation to learn on a professional level, has resulted in learnings on so many different levels for me. It has been an exceptional experience with exceptional people from the very beginning. From Ashlyn Bernier to Arden Tse to Lazina Mckenzie, the program has evolved in ways that wouldn’t have happened without their combined leadership. Each mentorship team I've participated in has provided learnings on topics that have been both familiar and brand new. Every Mentor Rally, our signature event, has provided the opportunity to meet new “accomplices” who like me, care about the mission. The value it brings to my life feeds my desire to advance the cause not just for the entrepreneurs but for my own personal journey and the privilege of being part of such a community.

Kristina Milke
VMS Mentor since 2013 (the beginning)
VMS Board of Advisors, Vice Chair
Mentor Engagement Team member
Excellent Education Committee - Co-Chair