Since coming to UAlberta in 2009, political science student Emerson Csorba has served on the Students’ Union Council; coordinated the “Stand Up for Edmonton: The University of Alberta’s Place in Edmonton” event; was named a 3M National Student Fellow; spoke at the United Nations as part of the International Youth Leadership Assembly; and co-founded The Wanderer Online, one of Edmonton’s highest-read daily online magazines—and, as if that wasn’t enough, he now adds book editor to his list of credentials and achievements.
Csorba led and co-edited Leading U, an e-book that shares the on-campus experiences and reflections of 36 UAlberta distinguished leaders. Although the book reflects a broad snapshot of stories across all faculties, there is a strong Faculty of Arts foundation: Csorba’s co-editors—Tori McNish, Kevin Pinkoski and Chelsey Van Weerden—are Arts alumni and contributors include other prominent Arts alumni such as Brad Ferguson, Amy Shostak and Paula Simons.
“Several years ago, I participated in Orientation as a senior volunteer, and remembered thinking to myself that the University needs a way to extend Orientation past the first week of classes,” says Csorba. “Leading U is meant to serve as this resource, hopefully providing incoming students with something that they can use in order to become engaged in university life from the first moment they set foot on campus.”
“There’s a human dimension to university life that I view as exponentially more important.”
Csorba notes that producing the book was very much a collaborative activity. To find contributors he relied on personal connections he made during his time on campus. Hallie Brodie (who runs the YouAlberta Student Life Blog for the U of A) provided the cover design, and Csorba credits Sean Price and the Alumni Association as being extremely helpful in answering all of his questions. “Everyone was pretty accommodating, agreeing to share their stories with a wider audience.”
Despite the varied experiences captured in the book, a common thread resonates through each and every one of the stories: University of Alberta students transform as people during their university experience. “This sounds obvious, but I think it’s worth saying, because our society now questions the value of a university degree and focuses quite heavily on the acquisition of job skills. Developing particular kinds of knowledge and skills is important, but there’s a human dimension to university life that I view as exponentially more important,” suggests Csorba.
“In every essay, the contributor remarks that the University of Alberta provided experiences not previously imagined, whether it’s travelling to Japan, meeting one’s life-long partner, founding a business or discovering oneself through readings of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. These experiences fundamentally shape a person, and they pave road to a fulfilling life,” he says.
Csorba, who is pursuing a double honours in Political Science and Sciences Politique (writing his honours thesis with Political Science professor Roger Epp), says that producing the book helped him reflect on his own experiences over the past four years. “My guess is that people’s interpretations of the stories will vary based on their programme and year of study. But that’s part of the beauty in this book: it’s something that can be re-read at the beginning of each new year,” he suggests.
“I’m hoping that readers emerge thinking ‘Wow, the University of Alberta provides its students and alumni with such a wealth of rich experiences,’” he adds.
Moving forward, Csorba wants to maintain the energy of the book by expanding it to include more stories from new and older alumni. But his involvement in book publishing doesn’t end there: he is also working with another UAlberta entrepreneur to develop a collection of U of A entrepreneurship essays that passionate young businesspersons can use for inspiration in launching their own start-up companies. This e-book is scheduled to come out on December 1.
“The University of Alberta provides its students and alumni with such a wealth of rich experiences.”
Surprisingly, Leading U was planned and developed in just five months, even with the editors balancing jobs, travel and extracurricular activities on top of their editor duties. Csorba advises other UAlberta people to be similarly entrepreneurial, and to take advantage of all the opportunities and talents available on campus. “Because of the quality of people at the University of Alberta, we can surprise ourselves with the things that can be accomplished in relatively short periods of time.”
Download a free copy of Leading U or read it online here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/363508