Gia DeJulio (8T2) is the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Enersource Hydro Mississauga Inc. Despite her busy schedule as a professional, she still finds time to give back in a very meaningful way. Through her help, and many more volunteers like her, Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke secured over $3 million in donations for much needed renovations. These repairs will allow the shelter to continue offering a safe place for women and children escaping abuse.
Why and how did you get involved with Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke?
I joined the Board of Directors a few years ago. Three friends of mine were on the Board and were telling me about the need to renovate the shelter for women and their children fleeing from violence. I thought I could help because of my work in energy efficiency and conservation and demand management – these are features that I believed should be incorporated into the rebuild.
How many years have you been supporting this cause?
I’ve been supporting Women’s Habitat financially for about 10 years through the entreaties of my friends who were on the Board before me. I’ve been a member of the Board of Directors since October 2010.
Did you champion similar causes when you were a student in the department?
When I was a student in the department my world was much smaller, and my charities of choice at that time were my church and school. As my world grew with my career and my social circle I realized how many worthy causes were deserving of my support, and I’ve since broadened my charitable support.
Who inspires you? What motivates you?
People who are able to overcome great challenges with grace and resiliency are who inspire me, and many of the clients of Women’s Habitat fit that description. They have found the courage to fight for their own safety and that of their children by removing themselves from oppressive and abusive relationships, and seeking the shelter and counselling services of Women’s Habitat. I am motivated to exhibit that same strength of character and resilience. I must admit it’s not too difficult to achieve this, as I’ve been blessed with a wonderful home life growing up, as well as a wonderful husband, children and a wide circle of friends.
What would you say or do to inspire current Chemical Engineering students to give back the way you have?
I would encourage these students to consider how privileged they are, being able to study in one of the best (if not the best) engineering schools in Canada. Getting a Chemical Engineering degree from U of T will open doors in their future that they simply cannot fathom yet, and will give them advantages that so few have or can expect to enjoy. Once those opportunities arrive, it is incumbent on these students to share their skills and talents with the world, including their support for others less fortunate. This might be in the form of financial donations or personal time to charitable causes or both. And don’t take any of these privileges for granted.
Do you believe all engineers have a responsibility to be socially mindful?
Yes, we do. We have learned how to work hard and fulfil a commitment that results in receiving engineering accreditation. In turn, that gives us access to employment, respect, and a voice. These benefits provide us with the abilities to be financially sustainable, and influential members in society. We have a responsibility to use that influence in a socially mindful way.
What’s your favourite quote?
Bill Gates once quoted his mother for saying, “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.” I like that quote.