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Mountain States Spotlight with Chelsea Canada

  • January 30, 2015

Chelsea Canada, CU Boulder Student Body President and Colorado’s 2014 Ambassador on ADL’s Campus Leadership Mission to Israel talks about why she is passionate about dance, Israel, and the mission of the Anti-Defamation League.


How are you involved with ADL?

I was honored to attend the Campus Leadership Mission to Israel in December 2014. It was my only time out of the country since participating in a mission to rebuild an orphanage in Chihuahua, Mexico sponsored by my church, Family Worship Center, in Pueblo, CO. The members of the church prayed for me while I was in Israel on the ADL mission, which was really special.


What do you do in your professional life?

I’m a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder and student government president. I’m still deciding what I want to do professionally, but I’m thinking about going into politics. I started out at CU as a journalism major, and have been involved in several creative journalism projects. During the past year, however, I have started to believe that while I used to think that journalism was the best way to effect change, politics may be a better way, because drafting policies can change the lives of a lot of people for the better.


Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Colorado Springs. My mom’s side is Hispanic, with deep roots in Southern Colorado; I have Native American and Spanish ancestry on her side. My dad’s family is Irish and German, so I’m something of a mutt!

What’s your favorite holiday?

This is going to sound cheesy, but I love the Fourth of July. It celebrates our history and all of the strife that our country went through to be where we are today.

What’s your favorite food?

Green chili. I put it on everything – pizza, lasagna, macaroni and cheese. The hotter the better!

What’s a special place you have visited?

Israel! The Campus Leaders Mission was truly life changing. It gave me a different perspective of the world. The world is a lot bigger than we think, and there’s a lot more going on than what we might think living our day to day lives. It’s good to focus outside of yourself. That’s one reason I loved the trip so much.


What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

To accept and learn from others who are not like you.

What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?

I took a Women in US History class and it opened my eyes to norms and how they play a role in society. It also taught me to question and challenge those norms. Norms are created by humans; they are not laws of nature, like gravity. They are subjective, and can be changed.

What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

Trying to shift those norms to create change. My job as a representative of our CU student body has empowered me to serve others and be one of the ones that leads the fight. For example, we recently instituted diversity training for all the employees at our student rec center. CU can be a more homogenous place than you might think, and we wanted to make sure that our employees were creating a culture of respect of all groups who might be using the rec center on any given day.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

Dancing. I love to dance. I used to be a ballet dancer, but I discovered hip hop and I’m hooked. It’s a big shift, and it’s such an important part of my life.


What would be impossible for you to give up?

My drive. Various life events have shaped why and how I am motivated. I am always trying to better myself and prove myself.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

I would teach dance. I’ve already worked as a Zumba instructor. Dance creates a really great foundation, and there’s a big element of making a plan and deciding what comes next. Dance has elements of structure, commitment, and motivation. It can be really empowering.

Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

Being in Israel. It reminded me not to be afraid to step out of my comfort zone, and gave me new breath, in a way. I’ve never felt so present moment to moment as I was on the mission. My mind is always going to what’s next, but in Israel I felt so present and I was taking in all the people I met and the experiences I was having in the moment.


How do you envision ADL’s theme, “Imagine a World Without Hate?”

Taking advantage of people’s differences and embracing them – using our differences as a tool to bring people together rather than push them apart. People’s different values and experiences can work to supplement each other and create an amazing positive energy in the world.