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The Humans of Lambton project is modeled after the Humans of New York concept. With each individual profiled, we kindly celebrate his or her contribution to the wellness of Lambton College. Regardless of what role or field of expertise, the persons of Lambton are the change-agents of our community and our greater society. There are so many reasons to celebrate and be inspired by the great people of Lambton. Have a look for yourself!
Melanie: I’m excited right now because I’m just writing up a little presentation. I’m an early adopter of social media and I’m excited about the potential to integrate it into what we do at the library – to put a positive and friendly face on the library staff and what we do.
Lori: My love of socializing and making people feel better about themselves probably lead me to the career of esthetics and now teaching. I’m truly grateful that I am able to work in such a positive environment while earning a good living to support my son. I’m honored that we have the opportunity to teach young women or single moms that they can earn a decent living and provide for their families, even if they’ve been told that they’re “not university material” – as my high school guidance counselor told me. I am grateful, humbled, and sometimes overwhelmed by the challenge of teaching. But, mostly, I am honoured that our students entrust their futures to us. Literally, they put their futures into our hands…
Pam: It’s a nice community of people that live here and it’s a good balance. The past three years have been difficult personally for me with some tragedies. What I like most about the place is that some people truly got me through the day and they didn’t even know it.
Rob: I think it’s important to be there for people – staff, students… To be there. To be in my position, you have the ability to make the College a better workplace. Being there for people, listening to people... but then to think about how it can benefit the College overall.
Gord: How do you deal with the difficult days? I don’t know. You just deal with it. You’ve got to listen to people. That’s the thing. What inspires you to stay at Lambton? I like it here. I started here in 2003 and I still like it here. When you like your job, it’s not a job. It’s a good place to work and there’s lots of support here if I need it.
Tom: I like interacting with people. Being a teacher is in my blood. I come from a family of teachers and I always said I wasn’t going to be a teacher. But I found myself in a job that sort of informally taught others about software and I realized that I was thinking about it outside of work a lot - how to do things better – and I realized that I really enjoy this.
Jim: How do you struggle on? I suppose it’s in my genes. You don’t get trained in that, do you? I have a strong sense of right and wrong and how things should be.Jeanne: How do you stay positive? Why not? It’s not hard. Because I enjoy what I do and I enjoy the people I work with. We all get along great and we work together for the students.
Vashti: When successful students leave their families and come here, it’s such a long process for them. But when they find outstanding employment and come back to tell us, it’s so fulfilling. I learn from my students and I learn about myself through our students.
Carolyn: When things get really stressful, how do you cope? It is usually that there is a lot going on at once. I usually find making lists and trying to get things off the list is very helpful; it makes me realize I am not spinning my wheels getting nowhere. I can look at my list and see all I have accomplished. No matter what, I try to always have a smile on my face when someone comes to my door, and I try not to let anyone know I am feeling stressed, as that does not help them in the least. What I am there to do is to help them. My personality is helpful and I care about their best interest. I love the work that I do at Lambton College and I hope that I can continue to make a difference, in small ways, to the people that I work with for the rest of my career here.
Khaled: What do you find most meaningful about your work at Lambton? Knowledge and education leads to greater human respect. The most valuable reward I could look for is to know that I participated in students’ education and they are enjoying the new phase of their careers and have appreciated the work and skill building provided by the College family of instructors, staff and administrators. I believe you have the others' stories and images.
Diana: At the Open House this year, I sat and talked with people. After the Open House, I felt so great about my job because I got to talk to people one on one. People from 17 to 50 choose a career path in post-secondary, many with Lambton College, and I play a role with that. It feels great.
What keeps you coming back?Becky: The people – they are fantastic. You build a family here.Tracy: The people here epitomize going above and beyond. There’s never been a day that I didn’t want to come to work. We laugh every day.
Cathie: My ideal job would be as a student ombudsman. That’s what I would love to do. I’m really student-centered and I fight hard when I see the College drifting from student-centered objectives. I can become really passionate.
Jess: How do you cope with the challenges of your job? I’d say it’s more trying to stay balanced and to keep a good perspective about what’s important in life. Your job can be so difficult. How do you deal with the toughest of days? I crank up the music and just work.
Richard: Challenges are my favourite part of life. Challenges combine knowledge with life experience, bringing about the wisdom we need to sustain a life of purpose and the relationships that matter.
George: What is the best day? When I see that imaginary light-bulb go off above the students’ heads. It’s just a feeling that they got what we’re trying to teach them. How do you know when they get it? You just know.
Lisa: Why are you here at the College? Because I worked in a profession that I loved in policing and I combined that with education, which I also loved, and brought the two together, and I hope to inspire those who work in the justice field through this. It’s important to bring people together – ownership, pride, the community element. Does Lambton College have that? Yes, but I want to keep on with it by taking advantage of the resources we already have. Keep what we have and make it better. Work less in isolation. We have great things here; we just need to bring them together. It really is all here.
Mark: I’ve been here for six and a half years. There are challenging moments but it’s fairly straight-forward work. To do your best in this work, you’re always thinking of how to do the best job with the least amount of interruption to people and what they’re doing. This job allows you to be as cheerful as you want to be. You’re with positive people all day working towards important goals in their lives – to get good jobs. It’s easy to be around people who are working towards their own goals. The other thing I really like about this job is that you get people saying hi to you who are from all over the world – 30 different countries! One thing that I think is important to say is that this job provides a decent enough income – enough to give me the chance to own my own home in a good neighbourhood. That’s very important to me and to all who want a good life.
Holly: I love it here. I like seeing the students succeed. You get to know them for three years and then they leave. You are happy for them because they are graduating but also you feel a little sad.
Lisa: I try not to worry about what people think of me. I've learned to do things because I want to, not because I think I have to or because I might look better to some people. I've accepted the idea that there are things I can't change no matter how hard I try. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff as, besides health and basic necessities, pretty much everything else is small stuff.
Anna: Why do you like your job? Interacting with all the students and staff. Because we are such a small college and we get to know them so well. The students take all the cafeteria staff as their surrogate mothers. I also like it when the Brazilian students speak Portuguese to me because I can keep up on my native language.
Richard: What are the 3 main tools you have used to make it work? Patience: I’m still navigating my way through this uncharted territory. I have to have patience with it - patience with the problems and patience with myself. I’m hard on myself but when I reflect, I give myself a chance to grow from it. Help: I turn to people. I’m not shy to ask. I’ve found that people at Lambton College are very, very generous and many have helped me along. Belief in myself: I just dove in. I gained confidence in something I’d never done before. I made mistakes and learned from them. Some things I’ve had to learn on the fly. I like the chase. The pursuit is something that has always interested me. You have to have discipline to carry on the chase. You have to continue going for it.
Karen: What I really struggle with is that the worst days actually weren’t so bad at all when I reflected. It’s about perspective and my job helps with that. I love my job. There’s nothing better than helping someone achieve their ultimate goal in finding a job. I feel like our jobs are really important. Why the LC2 for you? It gives us the opportunity to own the culture – or own a portion of it – so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the things that we don’t have control over. What we can do is work towards motivating others.
Justine: What’s the best thing about your job? I get to interact with students, staff and the public by having fun events that are significant for the students and for community enrichment. What is the very best day? The day after a successful event. It feels rewarding to have raised funds for our community and to take a deep breath and know that all my planning has be well worth it.
Margaret: The best thing about teaching physics is when the students start to enjoy a subject that they previously felt negative about. Because physics is perceived as being difficult, when they master it, they have a strong sense of power in their own skills, a pride in themselves. Sum up what you do in one word. Invigorate.
Robin: There are a lot of families that now have to find childcare. It’s very sad. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s sad for the community – something that’s survived here for so long. Children have spent many years of their lives here, from infancy to toddlers to preschool – from as young as six months to ten years. We are very proud of the service we provided for many, many families in our area for a long time. What I’ll miss the most are the children, of course, and also my coworkers.
Christy: Does one experience stand out for you as being the most meaningful or impacting to you? The whole interview process for our CICE students before they’ve gotten in. It’s when I hear them say, “I didn’t think I’d ever come to college.” The College system and others are opening their doors and making the educational experience accessible. Our students just having the opportunity to go to school is so powerful. It opens up so many paths for them – education, social… it’s integration.
Karen: Has anything changed in the ten years you’ve been hear at Lambton? Yes, the students have changed – their expectations. But our students (CICE) and our positions are very unique and that allows us to learn a great deal. Every day, every class is different. We are always learning. The position has its own challenges and its own rewards. How is your job meaningful? Our students want to be here. They appreciate the College and what we do for them. The value is for them to be successful in their college experiences. But, with them, it’s not always about academics. If you had one word to describe the experience, what would it be? Acceptance.
Anthony: What do you feel is a strength that you bring to Lambton? I always smile and I think that does a lot to bring a positive vibe. I also have the ability to adapt and make positive changes. I work well with a team and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to work together for a common good. What has gotten you through the challenges you’ve faced here at Lambton? Knowing I’ve surpassed other challenges in my life allowed me to believe that I could pass things here too. The support of my wife and family and a great group of peers at the College also meant a lot. If you had one word to describe your experiences here at the College to date, what would it be? Roller coaster! There’s been some heights of excitement and some low nose-to-the-books times. There’s been some friendships and some conflicts. There’s been success stories and some disappointments. Overall, I’ve found there are more high times than lows in my experiences and with all the yelling and the screaming on the ride, there’s true benefit that came out of it. I’ve enjoyed the experiences.
Bernd: My story is that I was a recruiter of graduates at a company, and I noticed those I interviewed had trouble relating book knowledge to the outside world. I blamed their teachers for it. I thought, I can do better! But how can I get back to chemistry, my roots, from this HR world I’m now in? I had been outside of research for a while, but I believed I could teach and I would return back as a chemist. I got my B.Ed. and began teaching in high school. But, when I got there, it was so different from what I imagined. It was brutal, actually. They didn’t appreciate a good teacher or a good lesson. I worked at giving them good lessons but they didn’t care. Eventually, I started working partial load at Fanshawe and that’s when I discovered the college world. There was much less difficulty with motivation – there was no “no child left behind” and the work was more about instilling knowledge. Now, I’m in my ninth year of teaching at Lambton. I enjoy it. How do you handle the difficult days? I carpool from London and I have carpool buddies. We have a circle of trust. We vent about everything without judgment or concern; what we say is accepted and respected in the friendship of our group. I get home and it’s out of the system. That makes it easy.
Barb: I’ve worked for Marg for thirteen years. I’m the recording secretary for the Foundation. We take care of all the budgets and make presentations to the Board. There is a lot of scheduling and arranging meetings with the many different projects involved with management. When you work with people who are so very busy, scheduling can be quite involved. What are you most proud of in your work here at the College? I like things to look good and I love doing the job really well. I enjoy helping others. I know my job and I know how to help and that is very rewarding for me. If you had advice to a new employee of Lambton, what would it be? Never be afraid to ask a question. The people of Lambton are phenomenal. Someone can and will be able to help. Lambton is like a family and it’s a great place to work. People start here and they never leave because it is such a great place. The people you work with here aren’t just your coworkers, they are your friends.
Kurtis Gray: What is the most challenging aspect to your new job? I think what I’ve been most challenged with is getting to know my team. I have so many great staff and want to get to know everyone at a more personal level. In a smaller team, that happens at a much faster rate. It takes time to get to know what everyone does. How do you deal with stress as a manager? I deal with stress by really engaging my time outside of the office and with family and friends and making sure I have a strong social network. I think this is really important because it allows for some personal space and allows for a different perspective. What is one word to describe what you represent as a leader? Positivity. I think one of my goals in any job I do is to bring the most positive outlook I can to any situation. How do you do that? I do that by trying to find the best in everyone.
Patti Eyre-Helps: When I first came here, there was a faculty member off sick whom I didn’t know. I learned that several of his colleagues came together and found his favourite book. These colleagues took turns recording their voices, each reading a chapter from the book. And when they had the whole book finished, they gave it to him as a get-well gift. That struck me as something special and it has always stayed with me as an example of what the culture was like here at Lambton. I remember thinking, I want to be a part of that. I want to contribute to that kind of culture. In the time between then and now, I try to make that kind of contribution, going about it in my own ways, to give – whether that’s to the students or with the staff I’m working or interacting with. If you could describe your personality in one word, what would it be? Buoyant. Why this word? It’s my natural inclination. It’s not that I don’t get down, but it’s in my core values not to stay there. To pull myself up – swim to the surface. Eventually, I rise. There’s a saying I heard recently that I really like and it suits me: “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.” I try to live life this way and that’s what I tell my students. Students, especially the international students, come here with high hopes to get good jobs, find a good life. When they don’t get that right away, they can become discouraged. I help with the discouragement of that and I help them get past it.
Joe Cannon: What sustains you? “The work with the students; that work has never been difficult.” What about when students are having difficulties or are in trouble? “Yes, that can be hard when people don’t develop. I take it personally when they don’t find their way. We do have that responsibility and work very hard at helping them. When a student doesn’t develop, it’s often a question of motivation, or more likely, they are battling serious self-esteem issues. Often, they can be looking for the program to be their therapy and that’s a recipe for disaster.” Do you have a piece of advice about teaching for someone who is just beginning? “I always like to say this quote that I once heard, ‘Students don’t care how much you know but want to know how much you care.’ Students need a relationship with the professor. When they feel that trust, they push themselves harder and learn much more.” What would you do without Ruth? “I would feel lost without her. I don’t know if either of us would do well without the other. We’ve made a pact: we’ll go out together in a blaze of glory.”
Chuck: “I was a superintendent for a construction company and I found that a great part of my job was to instruct or show people how to do things in the proper way. I seemed to enjoy that part of my job rather than the rest of it. So, when it came time for a career change, because the construction industry is very volatile, I thought it was time to go back to school. Enter Don VanderKlok and the Adult Learning Centre. I enrolled in the Learning Centre to take refresher courses and after a while, Don asked me to assist him with his class. I’m usually organized and I catch on quickly. I loved it! I loved engaging with the students. So then, I moved my focus to that of an educator. Eventually, I got all my certificates in IT and I went to work in the industry. I gained valuable experience in all the facets of the industry: software, support, networking and when the position came up as a part-time instructor in ITP, I applied. That job has ballooned into what it is now.” What is the greatest challenge in the classroom for teachers today? “We have a myriad of new technologies to integrate into the classroom and we try to do them in a way that works best for the students’ learning. The challenge is keeping pace with technology in a common sense kind of way. There’s a lot of great technologies and the challenge for the teachers today is to use that technology effectively to better the students. The other big challenge is the integration of international students. We’ve had so many students. We’ve had to learn on the run how to make it effective for them. We’ve tried to integrate our program, our students, into community-based social experiences. We participate in several community activities like the Phoenix Project, Race to Erase and we’ve got a store-front project for the students on the go. We’ve developed new ways to effectively integrate them into the North American business world.”
Dave and Mike: Why teach? Dave: “Because I love it. I’m a grad of Lambton; I attended here thirty years ago in CPA 1. I try to put myself back in the role of student when I teach. I’ve had a great ride – I’ve travelled all over the world and experienced many things and I can now recommend what I’ve learned to the students. I love the fact that I’m now giving back.” Mike: “I want them to learn from my mistakes. I want Canada to be a first world country with high performance students in a global market. Students are definitely the future to our economy.”What makes ITP unique? Mike: “Even though it is technology, the stress of the program is on business. Every technical solution starts with a business opportunity. The classroom environment is based on the real business environment so it’s focused more on the demands of a business setting instead of academics. The students work here for eight hours as if it was a regular work day. As instructors, with a lot of real world experience, we focus on what the real world asks of our students. I used to be a Hiring Manager and I noticed that many graduates had knowledge but didn’t know how to apply it. We will often have to retrain the students into doing things like the business world would, instead of just doing what the academic world asks of them.” Dave: “I would say that the program focuses on both the business and human aspects. I just did a module today on life skills; we were talking about time management. Using the popular vernacular, we use a ‘holistic’ approach in the program.”What is one word to describe a typical day at Lambton College? Dave: “Enjoyably-frantic!” Mike: “Entertaining!” “I have a lot of fun with my students; we have some great conversations.”
Terry Babbey: How would you describe yourself? "I’m not someone who answers questions like this quickly. I want to be authentic and respond fully, so I often spend time thinking and reflecting on my answers before I say them… I enjoy relating and connecting with others. Part of my role as a leader is to strive for that. I will often respond to difficult situations by using humour. I like harmony and cooperation and I find humour can diffuse tension and help everyone do their best." How long have you been at the helm of IT at Lambton? "Since 2010, but I’ve worked in the IT Department since 1987. I graduated from Lambton College’s Electronics Engineering Technology in 1985.” You are in a profession that is incredibly dynamic; how do you manage that? "I think, at the basis of it, there’s a creative side to me. I love creating something that didn’t exist before – something new. But you have to be a person who thrives on change. And that constant change is both a blessing and a curse! To manage that, you have to have a healthy balance between your work life and your home life. I am the kind of person that gets distracted easily. I have been like this since I was a kid. I thrive on change and the challenge of meeting a problem with a solution. Here, we do a great deal of problem-solving on the fly. We don’t have the resources of the bigger schools, yet we still provide the same services. I’m extremely proud of my team and what they are able to accomplish. When you are able to provide a solution to improve students’ lives or help staff members get their job done quicker, it’s good for everyone." What is something about the IT world that others outside of this world might not know? IT is becoming so integral to everything. Back in the day, if a server went down for a day, it was no big deal. But now, everything stops and we have to ensure we respond quickly – as you can see with the hours we keep.” What is a word that describes what you must have to be successful in this IT world? “Tenacity.”
Guy Racine: “I’ve been here for twenty years as the Food Service Director.” How many employees are you responsible for? “There’s about thirty employees here.” What makes up the biggest part of your day here, Guy? “Definitely managing people and balancing all the challenges. It starts at about 6:30 in the morning till about 9:30 at night. It’s all about being ready for the day and getting ready for what the day brings. If someone is sick and calls in, I have to respond to that quickly and make sure all the services are there. Food services is really important to everybody; food is a real need – it’s central to life.” What frustrates you about people who might not understand all the complexity behind the scenes with your work? “Well, sometimes people anticipate with the snap of a finger and it’s not that easy to just provide what’s needed. There’s a lot to coordinate behind the scenes. It takes time. Once the students are not here, the work is not reduced but changes form. Then it becomes about catering services. Catering all the meetings and there’s so much to that as well. But, to be honest, they don’t need to see that behind the scenes work. All they need to see is the service we provide – the finished product. The presentation is most important.” What provides the meaning to your work? “I think, just like it is with you, it’s the students. Their presence, their energy. It feeds us and keeps us going. Beyond that, it’s just the people. The people make the difference.”
Kelly Dann: How long have you been with the College, Kelly? “I’ve been here since 1983.” What, in your opinion, has changed the most in that time? “The volume of students and the needs of the students. When I started in the College, there weren’t any computers; we had typewriters. So the College has really evolved with technology for students with disabilities.” What’s the most challenging element to your job? “There are so many things to do in a day. It’s hard to explain what we do. It’s not about reflecting on it. You just do it, you know? Bonnie and I used to say you’ve just got to keep all the balls in the air and work together on it. Now the numbers are growing so much, it can get hard. When I started, mental health wasn’t even a category with the Ministry, in terms of our data collection, and now mental health concerns make up such a high number. Students used to come in with more physical issues – injury on the job and those kinds of things. Now mental health is a huge part of our efforts.” What would you like to say on behalf of your students? “Don’t treat them any differently than any other student. They want to be treated the same as their peers with the same respect and the same expectation to be prepared for the work world. Sometimes, they do get treated differently – people try to indulge them – and the truth is that they need the tools to make it, as we all do. I believe that kindness goes a long way. There are so many things and so much in a life. Treat people the way you want to be treated.” What is one word that defines your personality?“Helper. I’ve always said that I’m not a leader. I’m not a follower, either. I am a helper.”
Danielle Robb: “I have been here for 3 years now as a full-time graphic designer. I design all the promotional print materials for Lambton College that go into the community. I strive to ensure that the Lambton College brand is energetic, competitive, and reflective of who we are.” What do you like about your job? “My job before coming to Lambton College was a designer in the home décor industry. It was fun, but at the end of the day I was a part of selling products. There wasn’t much meaning in the work. That’s why I came here. In the job I have now, I help play a part in making someone’s life better through choosing an educational path that has the potential to change their life.” What allows you to be creative? “Every day, I try to be creative in whatever project I’m doing in that moment to, as best I can, give all my focus to that task. It’s hard some days. It’s important to allow time for the creative process to happen, but sometimes that time isn’t there. It’s a challenge, but it’s a good challenge.” How did you become so creative? “I guess it was instilled in me at an early age. I won a colouring contest at my dad’s work at the age of 5, so I think I’ve always enjoyed being creative.” What would you like people to know about the marketing department that people might not know? “I think what I’d like people to know is that one of the essential purposes for us is engaging with prospective students, but I also like that we are a part of the internal environment – the campus clubs and groups. It’s fun to be a part of that on-campus vibe. Oh, and we have a lot of potlucks. “ If you had one word to describe your talents here, what would it be? “Adaptive.”
James Grant: You are running for a political office. How is being a coach related to politics? “Above all else, especially on a city council, it’s a lot about team work – working to better achieve your goals.” How do you balance the SAC and Athletics responsibilities? “My whole life has been a combination of non-sports activities mixed together with athletics – going to school all these years, jobs during the days and athletics at night. A large part of my life has always been athletics and it just has always fit in my life. I find the balance.” What sort of sports have you been involved with? “In high school, baseball, basketball, cross-country, track, soccer… When I was at Western, I played inter-county baseball – some would say it’s the best league you can play in in Ontario. You eventually have to make a choice when it comes to playing a sport: you have to focus to keep the skills up. So, I narrowed it down to coaching basketball while playing baseball. These are both of the sports I grew up with. Now, I play for the Sarnia Braves in ball and coach the Lions here at Lambton.” How did you find your way to Lambton? “I completed my Bachelor’s of Ed and got on as an occasional teacher for the Lambton-Kent School Board. At the same time, I was the District Treasurer for the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF). I was also the assistant coach here at Lambton for three years. I then became the Head Coach and have been for four years. I interviewed for the General Manager position in SAC and have been doing that job now for about a year and a half. I think that the OSSTF work really helped with that.” How much time do you dedicate to basketball in your weeks, James? “Well, through September, it’s about 10-12 hours a week. Once we hit October, we practice for eight hours and, for example this weekend, we’ll hit Kingston for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.” What’s the best word to describe you? “Driven.” Why driven? “For the Lambton College basketball team, I was driven to change it for the better. For SAC, I was driven to change it for the better. The challenges I take on always seem to have a component to them where if you want to work hard to make change, then it can be achieved.” What is one thing you want to do at Lambton College you haven’t done yet? “I want to fill up the gym for a basketball game - show Lambton College school spirit. That’d be great.”
Mary Jane Comiskey: “I’ve been at the college for over nine years. I started in Practical Nursing then moved to the BScN Program for four years. The coordinator position came up in the Practical Nursing program and I took the leap. I’ve been the coordinator now for three years and it’s starting to feel like I finally own it. I’m starting to make the contributions I wanted to make.” What does that mean, “contributions”? “I want to help build student professionalism and confidence. I want to demonstrate leadership. The nursing profession is one of integrity and honour and if I can’t model that for them, then I’ve failed them. As a leader, I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to help and to try to find them the best I can.” What’s the hardest thing about moving from community-based nursing to teaching nursing? “The biggest challenge a nurse faces coming to teaching – and usually they come through the clinical setting – is that they don’t have a frame of reference for how difficult it is; how complex the role really is. There are so many balancing factors, so many balls to juggle.” What’s the toughest part about teaching nursing? “One of the most challenging aspects is helping the students to be acculturated into the profession. Training someone to be a professional. That’s a tricky thing to do: to start at ground zero and prepare someone to become a member of a regulatory body. One of the most rewarding parts is to just watch it unfold. There’s that moment when the student feels like a nurse, it’s magical. When they start to embody all that is nursing. Nursing is an art. Anyone can learn the skills but it’s relationships that matter.” What’s something that no one in the College would know about you? “In my next life, I want to be an R & B back-up singer!” Why that specifically? “Why not!” Music centers me. It has always been a big part of my life. I’m a commuter and while many would say that commuting is stressful and time consuming, I welcome the peaceful time alone and the time to explore my latest downloads! Oh, and I am a great singer, in the car with the windows rolled up.” Other than music, how do you deal with the really tough days in here? "The really tough days put my organizational, professional and leadership skills to the test for sure. I try to understand the driving forces behind the demands I face. It helps if I can understand the big picture. It helps me to prioritize. Also, I work with a tremendous team. We rely on each other for support during difficult times and I think we are a strong team because of it. "Tell a new coordinator how or what they can do to cope. “My advice to a new coordinator would be allow themselves to be a learner. The learning curve for new coordinators can be high, depending on their overall knowledge of college processes. I would say, pace yourself. You can’t learn it all in one semester. It took me one full year to feel some comfort in the coordinator role, and three years later, I am still learning.” Also, I would say that it is important to stay student focused, it helps.”
Alaena Darrach and Jim Sharp: What does the world need to know about grammar? Alaena: “That it counts! That when you write something, it’s a representation of you, and that it creates a first impression just as much as a handshake. Grammar needs to be valued, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion.” Blown out of proportion? Jim: “Yes, because English teachers can sometimes blow this importance out of proportion. But if we don’t teach to a standard, the skill, the art of communicating will be lost forever.” What is the most difficult part of your job? Jim: “I think the most difficult part is working with the students who aren’t motivated. They are here but not invested. So, that’s difficult. It’s a great job and it’s a tough question to narrow that down. There are daily frustrations and you get over them.” What is the difference between your two styles of teaching? Or perhaps it’s easier to answer how you are similar? Alaena: “We're both passionate about what we do. We enjoy connecting to the students, and we want to make connections in the class. We also want to connect to the faculty. We both enjoy enhancing the experience of what we do by making and fostering those connections.” Jim: “I think one of the differences is that I was hired as a life skills coach and I’m still in that role.” Alaena: “I would say that I focus more on the skills students need to acquire, and Jim looks at the student and tries to help him or her with all aspects of life.” Jim: “Alaena is perhaps also more encouraging of students to learn, and I will try to help them with their lives. For example, just this morning, I was talking to a student who was struggling to come in to class. I told him, ‘Sometimes, you just have to leave your shit at home and go to work, cause the shit will always be there, but you’ll think about it differently when you spend the day at work and then come home to it.” Do you have a piece of advice for new teachers – to help them to be successful at balancing all their work responsibilities? Alaena: “Connect with other faculty both in and outside of the department...” Jim: “which means getting out of your office for lunch...” Alaena: “and meeting with people…” Jim: “especially those connected to your students.” Do you have one word to describe who you are at work? Alaena: “I don’t know. I find these kinds of questions difficult to answer.” Jim: “Gregarious.” (Jim consults the dictionary to be sure this word is most suiting). “From Webster’s Canadian Dictionary, 2004, the word gregarious is defined as ‘lives in flocks and herds.’ Yup, that’s me.” Jim: “Alaena, you’re invested. That’s what you are.” Alaena: “Do you think that’s the right word?” Jim: “Absolutely.”
Simon Yiu: Simon, what’s your background? “I have a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a Master’s in Chemistry. After getting my Master’s Degree, I was fortunate to get a job in industry when there was epic growth in the late 70s. Even though you were not specific to the power generation industry, you could find employment with them and so, as a chemist, I went to work for them. I spent eight years working in the industry and really enjoyed it. But at the time, I hadn’t given up on my dream of getting my PhD. Eventually, I did a PhD in England. After I graduated, I considered where to live. Being raised in the Chinese culture, I went to Singapore to work. At the same time, my wife’s side of the family came here to Canada. When we came to visit her family, in 1982, I was brainwashed! I came over to the Expo that was taking place in Vancouver, where my wife’s family was living, and we just fell in love with Canada.” What was it about Canada you loved? “Here, it is so peaceful. People of different cultures live in harmony. Also, the scenery and the air quality. Much different from Singapore. After living in Singapore for a year, we decided to move to Canada.” How did you find your way to Lambton College? “Well, first I entered the teaching profession part-time at Seneca. While there, I really liked what I did. Then, after a year, I taught at Sheridan. I taught there for two years. Again, I really liked it. There was an opening here. I wasn’t sure about Sarnia, but I’ve now been here for fifteen years! I travel back and forth to Toronto each week; my family stays in Toronto. Unfortunately, relocation is not simple with children. I am a part-time resident of Sarnia. In the winters, this is a challenge to go back and forth. One time, I had to stay three days in Strathroy. There was a big storm and I stayed in a church there. Bryan Aitken came into the College here and had to teach for me.” What is one great thing about teaching at Lambton? “Here, I can say my industrial experience is put to good use. I use both my academic background and my work in the power generation industry to teach. The practical knowledge is used here, which I like. The students and I have a lot in common – we both enjoy the field and talking about the experiences we’ve had. I feel very good with CPET – very comfortable with the students.”
Debbie and Lori of Tim Horton's: What’s the best part to your job? Lori: “I enjoy the customers – being friendly and being able to interact with all the people who come to the line.” What’s the most difficult part of your work? Lori: “Sometimes, it’s very busy. It’s hard to keep up. There are long lines and you can only work so fast.” Debbie, how long have you been working here? Debbie: “I’ve been 30 years with the company and I started here, at the College, in 1984. I worked here between 84 and 87, left and came back in 2000. I’ve been here since. Do you like your job? Debbie: “I do like my job. The best part of the work is that I have great staff to work with.” What’s most difficult for you, Debbie? Debbie: “Oh, the stress! Sometimes, we can get discouraged with the line ups. Sometimes, people get impatient with us when the lines are long and that’s difficult for us.” Lori: “We do the best we can. We just take one person at a time and smile. Smiling can really help.”
Baiba Butkus: What’s your background, Baiba? “My parents came from Latvia, with a suitcase and twenty-five dollars, running from the Communist regime. My accountant father took the contract made available to him in Canada and worked as a gold miner in Kirkland Lake for the required one-year period. This is where I was born. After putting in the time, my parents then moved to London, Ontario, where my father became a welder and worked for 30 years in an appliance factory. My parents had my brother six years earlier, but because he was deaf, he spent much of his childhood away at school, so it was almost as though I was an only child, except for summers. Latvian was the language spoken at home and life was centred around the Latvian community. There was no question I would attend Western University with the good fortune of its proximity. I think, being the child of immigrants, there were lots of expectations placed upon me. I was considered the “Canadian” child and had opportunities. I attained an honours degree in History and earned the Gold medal that year. I was invited to undertake a Master’s degree but I agreed to it only if I could knock it off in a year. I did that and then went off to Law school. I married my high school sweetheart who was also in law school. I was in first year and he was ahead of me in third year. A position in Toronto for him meant that I had to hit the job market before my law degree was complete and accepted a position in marketing at Procter and Gamble. The training in marketing at Procter and Gamble was highly prized because they set really high standards. Every year, they hired one non-business grad and that was me. It was implicit that we do the job well. I worked eighteen-hour days and I gave regular presentations to build up my skills. We were exposed constantly to the people above us – giving persuasive presentations to them regularly – because they believed that’s how you’re going to get good. I learned that the key to persuasion is listening and I also learned to be a disciplined editor. I had to create eleven drafts of my first document before it was approved. My manager said, 'This is very good. We’ve finally gotten it good after eleven drafts. Now, make it fit to one page.' It wasn't the hard work at P & G but the opportunity to work in a less structured environment that encouraged me to move on to other companies: Life Savers, Hershey, Hartz Pet Supplies.” How did you get to Lambton College in Sarnia? “It was because of my husband’s business that we made the move to Sarnia. I was hired full-time at the College with a bunch of others. In the beginning, I didn’t intend to stay on. I also wasn’t involved in the union. With my father being a steelworker, I understood about unions, and we went to the company picnics each year, but my corporate background wasn’t pro-union, so I didn’t involve myself.” So how did you become involved with the union? “Well, you can’t criticize something unless you are willing to do something about it and unless you’re willing to make change.” If you could change one thing about Lambton College, what would it be? “I would want managers to interact more with faculty with the understanding that we want, or should want, the same thing. The guiding factor has to be in the best interest of the students and helping them to achieve.” Is that your approach to leading the union then – with a goal for communication? “I really believe that a conversation has to precede action. I believe that a grievance is an invitation to begin that conversation. Early on in my career at Procter and Gamble, I was away at a management conference with a collection of people from the company, including some from upper-level management. At the time, they were polling these managers, asking what they thought their workers wanted from their jobs. The expectation by the managers was that their workers would say they’d like to make more money and work less hours – that sort of thing. Those who were there from upper management said that what they wanted for themselves, however, was meaningful work where they could make a difference and be recognized. I remember at this conference, there was a server who was pouring the coffee in the morning – getting everything all set up. The meeting moderator centered her out and asked what she wanted from her job. She said that she wanted to do something meaningful that made a difference and to be recognized. Amazing. I will never forget that moment. People from all levels want the same thing! The person who pours the coffee wants the same thing as the person running the organization.” What is your life philosophy? What do you want people to know you stand for? “I think I’ve become my father’s daughter. He once said that he’d never be famous or rich because he was too honest. I think of myself in a similar light. I’d like to think I inspired somebody to not be afraid to speak the truth. It’s like I tell my kids: life is pretty simple. You always know what the right thing is: you’ve been given that inner voice – that moral compass. But sometimes, it takes an awful lot of courage just to say it.”
David Chidley: Why bother teaching when you’ve been successful? “Teaching/sharing has always been a part of my career since the beginning and so this is just a natural extension of that. I started my photography career because of some feedback I received from a high school teacher. I went to Europe with school and took a bunch of pictures. My geography teacher said, 'You’re really good at that!' And that was it! After that, I was the year book photographer and did all kinds of things with the school. From there, I was a photographer.” What is the most frustrating thing about students? “A lack of passion. I think I can teach anyone photography but I can’t teach them passion and without it, they will not succeed.” Why do you need passion? “Because everyone’s a photographer. To be really good, you have to live it. I can’t turn off my seeing and that’s part of the passion. No matter where, no matter when, I see pictures. Students who are casually committed to what they signed up for… well, I like to say it like this: If they aren’t committed, then I’ll be committed! You have to capture the shot. The best example of this was with Wayne Gretzky. He was always doing this, always messing with ya. He would do something once and you either got it or you didn’t. I missed it. It was at the Pro-Am Golf. 18th hole. The fairway. Wayne dropped to his knees for one second. Out of seven or eight photographers following him, not one of us got it. And if you didn’t get it, it didn’t happen. There’s no point in talking about something you didn’t get. So you have to keep on, you have to see those chances and take them. Journalists are storytellers and most of the time those stories are created from total strangers. You have to walk up and create those stories. I have the expectation that students will walk up to complete strangers to ask if they can take their pictures. They have to be confident enough for this. I remember there was this one student, when I was at Conestoga doing a news photography course. I was dubious about him because of his appearance. He dressed in black, leather, had long hair, piercings, had ear buds… kept them in for the entire lecture and afterwards. He never spoke a word. After the class had ended, he stayed at the back of the class, sitting at his computer. I walked back and he had tears running, streaming, down his cheeks. He said, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t take pictures of strangers.’ I talked to him for about fifteen minutes that day. I explained to him that he needed to and then told him that it would be fine because the camera is a shield of sorts. The camera makes it so we can avoid being as personal as the person we photograph. I told him to walk up to that person and ask; just do it. That guy, one of my favourite teaching successes, won the President’s Award that year for that class. He went so far with his work.” What’s the proudest moment for you as a photographer? “As a photojournalist, it’s when what I do actually initiates change for the better. The power of one picture can change government policy, can make people think about drinking and driving, about something significant. One single glimpse at life. My very first assignment on a newspaper was for an “Adopt-a-Pet” photo. It was an important opportunity because I knew that I had that little dog’s life in my hands. If I took a good picture of that dog that day, I would save him. I would save his life with my photograph. Someone would see it and adopt him because of my work. Those are the proudest moments. Evoking reaction is the difference between making pretty pictures and making a difference.”
Judy Morris: What is something that people might not understand about your job, Judy? "The level of accountability. Until you actually work in the position, it is hard to envision. I lived next door to the President for a number of years as the VPA and as a result, I thought I understood. But clearly it is one of those things that, regardless of whether or not people try to prepare you, you have to experience it to fully comprehend." So then, how do you cope with that level of stress? "I’ve always been into physical fitness. For me, getting in about five to six hours a week of exercise is ideal. In terms of balancing my life, it’s also critical for me to be positive. I have to believe that what I am doing will benefit someone in some way or I am demotivated and feel off-balanced. My biggest coping mechanism is laughter. I love to laugh. I get a great deal of joy from laughing with my co-workers. Life can be pretty overpowering at times, but finding laughter and joy in it whenever you can keeps me feeling balanced and healthy." What strikes you as beautiful? "Ah, Lois! You are going to make me cry… I’d say that it’s my granddaughter running into my arms." So, speaking of your granddaughter and leadership in the working world, what is a piece of advice you’d give to your granddaughter or to any woman who wants to work in a leadership capacity? "Know that who you are is wonderful. It’s a tremendous strength to know and have confidence in who you are. I think women have a hard time believing in themselves as a result of socialization, the media, etc. I had a great mentor and he would say to me, 'Judy, don't try to be someone else. Who you are and what you do are perfect.' There is another message I’d like to share with others. It is important to have drive and initiative. It’s in my nature to work hard, but it’s not about working to please or to prove worth to another; there’s value in the effort - in the sense of strength and accomplishment." How would you define success? "Success at work means being able to do something for which you feel great passion. Being able to work at something that drives innovation and creativity, and feeds your sense of social justice each and every day, is a tremendous gift. Doing that with a team that fits together like pieces of a puzzle is the icing on the cake. This is what I define as success, and for me, success is being able to work in education because it has the capacity to cause great change. Education can take people from a place of poverty to a place of hope."
Ray Pettigrew: Why the ambulance in the College? “It allows students to get a feel for the experience for when they are actually loading a patient; it makes it more realistic. It’s such a confined space you must work within. It would be even better if we could shake it up a bit to simulate going down the streets! We also teach them how to drive with our driving simulator here. It teaches them very defensive driving because the expectations are high. You have to be very careful. You can be going through a light but if you don’t do it carefully, and you get in an accident of some kind, you as the paramedic will be charged. So, it’s very important to learn to be comfortable with that and to drive well.” What’s your background here, Ray? “I was an adjunct in the Paramedic Program from 2005 to 2012. I became full-time and then took on the coordinator role this past April.” What’s the biggest element of the paramedic profession that the average person doesn’t know or understand? “People associate the job with trauma and although there is that, a lot of what we do is medical and a lot of it is with the elderly. Thirty years of hypertension, smoking, alcohol abuse. Disease is something that takes its time. If you had instant symptoms when you smoked a cigarette, you probably wouldn’t do it. It harms you over time. It catches up to you. These are the kinds of issues we tend to quite a bit.” How did you arrive at Lambton College? “I was one of Tony’s preceptors, particularly when he became certified in advanced care. He would ride with me and he would run the calls. As the preceptor, you’re there as a resource in case they need it. Tony called me afterwards and asked if I would be interested in teaching. I gave it some thought and decided yes, that’d be great.” What’s the most challenging part? “I think it’s the challenge of how to bring theory into the classroom. In the paramedic program, for the most part, the students are hands-on learners, so getting them to understand that theory is important is significant.” How do you communicate that? “I do a lot of case studies. I do a lot of real life examples.” Do you bring your own stories? “Yes, sometimes. I frame it as, ‘Here’s why you need to do this.’ Teaching how to interpret what’s happening. Not just to take vital signs but to interpret them – to take the whole situation and put it all together to make sense of it.” What’s your best day look like? “When the door goes shut in the class and all the administrative stuff is left behind for a while and you know the students are interested and know what’s happening, and when the class is done, you walk out and say that was good that happened. The classroom is my favourite place.” Any words of advice to a new teacher? “Don’t be afraid to ask others – more experienced teachers. You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s wise to reach out to others for advice and help. I have learned that over the years. For example, I always talk to the nurses in emerge. A good ER nurse is worth her weight in gold; she has a huge repertoire of knowledge that you can learn from. That learning never ends! As a learner, it’s really important to be open to receiving information. It’s just like for us when we were in A108. We always had little informal conversations. I learned a great deal from that – we all did. There is a lot of benefit to learning just though sharing and spending time with each other.” What is one word for Lambton College? “For us, in the paramedic program and paramedic world, it’s leadership. It’s about clinical research and about cooperation with our service partners and other service providers, other colleges. We are constantly pushing the envelope for advanced care practice. We are pushing that practice.”
Danielle Cooper: How did you come to Lambton? “I was a student at Lambton College in the Business Admin/Marketing and graduated in 2010. After that, I did a post-grad at Mohawk in Public Relations and worked for a year in Hamilton in corporate communications and public relations. A job came up at Lambton at a great time for me. I missed home. The job was in the Marketing Department and I thought, what the heck, I’ll apply. My experience at Lambton when I was a student was very positive. The people are friendly and I thought I’d enjoy working here. So, I applied and I got the job. I started in Marketing in January 2013 for a one-year contract. When the opportunity at the Alumni and Foundation office came up, it seemed like a good fit. So here I am!” What would you say is your greatest personal strength? “For me, in growing up, it was always giving everything I had into the things I was involved in or when I was working – whatever I was doing. I feel like that’s one of my biggest strengths: I have an everlasting commitment to doing the best I can do at something.” Where did you learn to be so open? “I’m very fortunate to have a small group of great friends and I have a good family; I know they’ll always be there. But, in terms of the attribute of being open, I’m definitely my mother’s daughter. It’s my mom. She was very honest and she taught me to talk it out. If you have something on your mind, never be afraid to share and show how you feel. Emotionality is openness.” How is emotionality a strength in your business? “Well, in fundraising, you are telling a story –in this case, stories about students. You have to evoke emotion to get people to buy-in and telling a good story is the way to do that. We are always asking ourselves, how can we tell that story better? How can we get others to understand our students better? You can do that by telling a great story. Because I’m so in touch with my own emotions, it makes it easier to tell a story that would access or evoke another’s emotions.” What’s the quirkiest thing you can think of about Lambton College? “The quirkiest? In our office, we can just be ourselves. We laugh and joke and talk about everything. So, I would say we are a little quirky! But I also think that’s a good thing. Being authentic opens avenues to creative ideas and that’s where all the ideas have come from about events – our environment, the dynamic that allows us to be that creative. It might have been a little quirky to put a 15 foot maple tree in the lower cafeteria before Christmas – but it look how awesome it turned out!” What’s the most difficult thing about your job? “I don’t feel like there’s one part of the job that’s particularly difficult, but there are challenges that come up. You take them on, one at a time as a team, and you work through them and get through it. You learn from these times, and you learn them together as a team. Working together this way makes for a really great team.” If you had the power to change the world in one way, what would it be? “I think, as a society, we live in a digital world. We are working all the time – working longer and staying plugged in to our technologies 24/7. I value technology and what it gives us, but I sometimes wish that if everybody could just take a minute and sit back and enjoy what they have: just stop being so busy and live in the moment. I make it a personal mission to take a look at what I have and truly appreciate it. Life is an awesome thing; it’s good to always remember that.”
Paul Dow: How did you find yourself at Lambton? "I was working for the Fire Marshal’s Office of Ontario as an Inspector. There, I conducted forensic investigations into fatal fires and complicated fire scenes throughout Ontario. I’ve also served for many years as a volunteer firefighter. In fact, I’m third generation firefighter. My dad served for forty-three years in the department and my grandfather over fifty. Altogether, we have over a hundred years of service. I applied for the Industrial Coordinator here at the College, knowing they were looking for a broad range of public safety experience to carry that position forward under the new vision. I was successful in securing the position and that was a year and a half ago. Recently, the Industrial Coordinator position was cut under the restructuring and I was offered a position under Fire Sciences teaching." When did you know you were a firefighter? "I never grew up wanting to be a firefighter but I grew up in the fire service. I grew up playing in the trucks and helping my father prepare for his meetings. In fact, I started in the military. I did four years of service and then joined policing, where I served over eighteen years with OPP and the London police. When I was with the London police, I did a year in helicopter research, where we tested the viability of helicopter police servicing. Then, I went on to join the forensic unit. For thirteen years, I was involved in the explosive disposal field in policing. In London, forensics ties into bomb disposal so I was a forensic officer and bomb squad leader. I still have all my digits and no glass eyes, so I must have done something right! Given all the forensic experience I had, I rolled those experiences – the firefighting, the forensics and the explosive disposal – into one job as a fire investigator for the Fire Marshal’s Office, where I would investigate serious fires and explosions throughout Ontario." What were you most looking forward to in starting teaching? "Building those learning relationships. I used to teach adults and peers in my other work and became quite comfortable with it, and now I’ll be teaching eighteen year olds. There’s the challenge of getting in their heads and helping them to learn from their perspectives." What is a piece of advice for someone who would like to get into a career in public safety? "It is an honourable choice, but it comes with a commitment to lifelong learning and the typical terrible shiftwork. There are many missed occasions with family because of that. As a result, a profession in public safety can take its toll in many ways over a course of a career. But it really is a front-row seat to life."
Erica Ostojic: What’s one word for Lambton College? “Community. It’s a wonderful place. We educate people and I think that’s very important. Education is important, it’s of value. I never hesitate to come to work. The people I work with are great. With the School to Work Initiative, the goals that we have in the office are collective. We always work together to be very student-focused. That’s what makes it run so well.” Do you like the office administrative role? “Yes, I love helping people and so the position works well for me. I also like to organize things. My mom was an administrative assistant and I think I inherited my love of supplies from her. I love supplies!” What about kids makes you a better person? “They make me happier. They give me motivation. They give me patience. Everything I do, I have two people watching me. I’d still try hard but it’s different with them. I’m a role model now.” What are your kids like? “I have two kids. Josephine is three and a half and she is very sweet and affectionate, quiet, shy and cautious. Lucille is eighteen months and is the complete opposite. She is outgoing and physical and loud and funny. She likes to make people laugh. They couldn’t be more different.” What’s the most difficult part to life? “I love my home, my friends, my babies, but there’s a whole lot of ugliness in the world sometimes. I’ve stopped watching sad movies and I don’t watch the news. I focus on my little world and what I can control. I can focus on how I can make the people in my life happy right now. I give them extra snuggles or we go to the park. I stay up later than I want to make them hot cooked meals and lunches for the next day. I even work out for them. I stay active so I can have that extra energy to be with them. The choices I make aren’t necessarily doing those things I enjoy in the moment, but it’s about living life fully and how it all connects - how it’s beneficial in a larger way. I have this mindset that I’m doing all these things because it’s healthier and it makes me happier. And then, when I do them, I am happier. I don’t know what life will hold for the future, so I focus on what I can do now and what I can give now.” Why do you love photography? “When I’m taking photos, it’s my alter-ego. It’s a completely different side of me. It’s fun and crazy. I shoot weddings and there’s often no control over the conditions – people do all sorts of things and the weather and other challenges make it chaotic. I like being in charge of that – of taking the picture in that chaos. There’s a sense of control there. I get to be really bossy!” What piece of advice do you have for Bisi? “You are doing everything right, Bisi. Eat, sleep and breath what you do and you’ll be good. I am an individual that is low risk – I’ve dipped my foot in. Doing photography full time takes away a safety net, and I’m not ready for that, but if you can then do it. You’ll be successful anyway.And always have faith in yourself.”
Tim Sparks: What’s your background, Tim? “This is my seventeenth year here. I started in 98, and I believe I was the only one hired that year. Before that, I worked for twenty-four years in the industry. I was the Deputy Fire Chief with the Corunna Fire Department and I also had seven years with the Point Edward Fire and Rescue Service. And all that time, I was always a volunteer firefighter.” What sort of person fits well with the firefighter role? “I think the type of person that would make a good fire fighter is a caring, compassionate, dedicated and determined team player.” What’s unique about the Centre here? “The Fire & Public Safety Center of Excellence is unique because we have our own multi-purpose fire-ground, which includes flammable gases, flammable liquids, a cold search & search tower, a hot burn tower, several fire apparatus and lots of classroom space for students. A one stop shop you could say!” How do you feel about teaching? Are you good at it? “Well, I coached hockey for years and I also trained firefighters as a part of my job; they’d always put the newbies with me to be their trainer. So I guess I can say that I have a pretty good disposition for this kind of thing. For me, I simply treat the students the way I would like to be treated.”What do you find to be the most challenging? “Keeping up with the technology. It’s ever-changing. We also have the rules involved with the industry, dealing with the amalgamation between the Fire Marshal’s Office and the EMO (Emergency Management of Ontario), and the changes that come because of that. It can be a challenge at times. As well as with others at the College, we’ve also had to contend with budget cuts.” What about the students? Are they challenging? “We used to have a tactile society – we did things with our hands. Most the students knew how things worked and how to fix things themselves. I guess you’d call it street smarts. We used to take that sort of knowledge for granted. With that, the students wanted to learn, wanted to know. They had a larger tool-box. There’s been a change and not all the students have the skill levels we saw in the past. So you try to treat them all equally and get those abilities. Like others, we like to suggest there are no silly questions. We try to create an environment where the students can learn, no matter what level of skills they are coming in with.” What is one word to describe you? “I’d say 'conscientious.' I try to be fair and ethical. I was brought up well. Paying attention to doing the right thing works for me. No matter what happens, I always stay true to my work.”
Kevin Graham: “I’ve been here since 1988. I’m considered the technologist; it’s a title similar to other technologist roles at the College but it’s a different job out here.” What do you do? “Industrial Operations. I keep the facility environmentally sound. I work with contractors for custom courses and service the training needs with that.” Why have you stayed for so many years? “I enjoy it. It’s what I know and it’s rewarding. Rewarding in the sense that I’m watching it grow. I feel I’ve helped the Centre be sustainable. There are a lot of challenges and we’ve seen them through. Now we’re seeing the potential for it to grow.” What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone coming here new to the facility? “I’ve seen a lot of mistakes from people who don’t work out here. So, my advice is not to try to do everything yourself. The end result is that you will burn out. You will lose the respect of your peers because you just can’t do it all.” How do you balance all the challenges? “As they say, you have to choose your battles wisely. You can’t get caught up in people’s personal agendas. Concern yourself with the important decisions, the service. Care about the parts of the experience that you are working on. Stay focused on what you can control, and what you can’t will take care of itself.”
Shelley Gartshore: “I first went to Western where I got a degree in psychology. Then, I attended Lambton in the post-grad HR program. I did an internship at Suncor, working in the Health and Safety field and then became a Health and Safety coordinator in industrial contracting for eight years. After that, I was looking for a change, so I applied for a position with the Lambton College Foundation. I worked for the Foundation for two years and then found my home in Part-time studies in 2012.” What is the best thing about your work here? “I like dealing with the students. I enjoy helping students with their various options, especially the mature audience because they often feel they are alone in the college demographic and it’s nice to be able to reassure them that they have lots of options – there’s lots of flexibility for them.” What is your most obvious characteristic? “I’d say positivity. I always try to find the best outcome and help people feel good about the choices they make. I try to be supportive.” What is one word to describe your life – all your experiences together? “Blessed.” Why blessed? “Well, I have a full life. I have two busy boys and I always seem to be on the go with things like travel hockey and other activities. I try to find balance in the midst of it all. Kids have taught me so much about myself: the importance of caring about others and all the challenges that come with that, but also all the rewards that come.” How do you get through the most difficult of days in here? “Laughter for sure. I laugh a lot with my coworkers. We definitely can find the humour in the situation.” What is something we might not understand about the Part-time Office and how it works? “There are lots of different learning avenues available for everyone. Even if someone isn’t interested in a diploma, there are such cool things out there to get involved in: arts, language, photography. Many might not even know just how much the College offers.” Why didn’t you want to have your photo taken as a part of this project? “I don’t like to be in the spotlight. This department is more than just me and I think you should be doing everyone in the department. Everyone here has such an important role to play. And even beyond the department, the same thing can be said for all of the College. We all have an important role to play.”
Jen Garton: What is one word to describe you? “I would say the word is ‘achiever.’” What inspires you in life? “I am definitely intrinsically driven. With my family – one child and one on the way – I just want to be a better person, a good person, to be a good example for my kids. I’ve always been intrinsically driven. I ask myself, am I doing what I should be doing? I’ve gone through some ups and downs while I’ve been here, but I always knew what I wanted to be. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to stay here to work. So, I asked myself - how can I better myself in order to stay here - and I just worked towards that.” When is your last day? “February 28 is my last day before going off.” Are you looking forward to it? “Yes, mostly because of the stage I’m in. I’m ready to just put my feet up. I know the person who is taking over for me and I know she will do a great job while I’m away. So, this time around, it’s pretty much stress-free. Because it’s my second child, I know what to expect for the most part, so I’m just looking forward to it.” Typically, what’s the hardest part to your job? “Probably the deadlines. This time of year is just really busy because of the budget – planning for the new year’s budget.” What does that mean for you? “It means figuring out the cost of the program areas and part-time staffing – their cost centres. Then, there’s capital, IT requests, PD requests, program development, hybrid development, library resources. I need to get all that back from the coordinators and compile the requests. All this has to be done by a certain date and it requires approval before the final deadline. This time, I was behind a bit. I was sick and we also had the snow day. That made it a bit more stressful. This time of year is the hardest time because of the budget and how the start-up overflows into that work. The first two weeks of the winter term is the start-up, so it pushes the other stuff back. Then, when budgets are done, all the planning for spring begins. The fall planning then starts up soon after.” So you enjoy working to deadlines? “Yes. I prefer to work to deadlines. Everything is cyclical and repetitive. I like the system and I like knowing what’s coming next. There are little projects every term that add additional elements to the work that make it interesting as well. And there’s also staffing, SWFs, schedules requirements. But, for the most part, I can see it coming and I like that.” Is all that intimidating? “Probably in the beginning it was, but now I know what to expect. I have my calendar to give myself enough time to receive and review the work and then get it ready.” You’ve got some nice things here in your office: you photos, your mementos and plants. “The plants aren’t real, actually. I tend to get busy and I don’t want to forget about them and have them die! It’s funny that you mentioned plants and what they mean. When my mom passed away, the people in the office at the time – Barb, Rob, Jim and Judy – went together and bought a gift plant for me. I have it at home now and it’s the one plant that I won’t ever let die.”
Brent Thomas: When did you start here? “I started working at the College in my last year of high school. It was for two or three weeks towards the end of the summer, doing some general maintenance work. I was then approached by Facilities and asked if I’d be interested in a work study and I enjoyed it so I continued on through co-ops positions. Upon graduation, I was offered a part-time position which eventually turned into full-time. When I started to work here, this wasn’t my only job. I was a bartender as well. I also did restorations and was getting into some property flipping. But once I became full-time, I became exclusive to that.” Why did you decide to stay here at the College? “I enjoy this environment. I like preparing for the new school year – getting things ready. It’s a friendly environment. It’s team-focused. It truly is a family.” What defines family to you? “People who stay well-connected and who look out for one another.” Can you explain a little about what Facilities does? “We’re responsible for maintaining the campus, including custodial, health and safety, security, project management, space management, the grounds, preventative maintenance, capital improvement and energy monitoring.” How do you balance all that? “By having a good staff.” What is one thing the average employee here might be surprised to know that you deal with here in Facilities? “I think they might be surprised at the number and type of questions that come through our office. There’s a great deal of diversity. For instance, we’ll have bake sale questions one minute and we’ll be replacing a gas line the next. We are involved in a lot of decision-making and span the College in terms of our involvement. We have to be involved with every department and try to understand each area’s functions, needs and what they require in order to help them succeed.” Why did you decide to move into management? “I liked the challenge of that. I’ve always had an interest in business. I have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. Once I knew I wanted to stay here, I furthered myself by taking night courses in maintenance management and I got my designations: the FMI designation, BOMA. Altogether, it was about four or five years to finish that up.” Have you always been good on the tools? “Yes, I’ve always been a hands-on kind of person.” So is it difficult, then, to be off the tools with your job now? “It’s tough sometimes. But I try to remember that my background helps me to feel like I can communicate better with the staff – what their challenges are – because I’ve been there.” You are a thrill-seeker. What sort of things have you done in terms of adventure? “I’ve gone bungee-jumping, running rapids, mountain biking. I have even done unicycling!” Which of your two kids is most like you? “My son’s pretty young yet – he’s just three. My daughter’s five. She seems to be cautiously adventuresome. She seeks out some thrill-seeking in her own right. She has a scooter, likes to climb, hangs upside down on the monkey bars. I built them a tree house and play set last summer and she enjoys that a lot. She loves zip lining and I’m building one this summer for them. I am looking forward to my kids getting older. I used to portage quite a bit in Algonquin Park and I’ll enjoy doing those sorts of things with them.” In terms of your leadership skills, what’s something that defines you? “Not making a decision without getting input from others. I do my best to get buy-in and involvement from others. I feel it’s important to be open-minded. I’m always interested in hearing other people’s ideas. Sometimes, the best ideas come from collaboration.” Do you have to be an idealist in your work? “I think it helps. You can’t let things get you down. You have to be in a position to be supportive and make it work. The focus is for the College to succeed. I like being a part of that.”
Dave:: What would you say you do? “Fix machines. Solve problems.” How long have you been here at Lambton, working for Xerox? “Two and a half years, roughly. I came from computers and then started working with printers. I like it because it’s something new to learn – to add to my experience with computers. Computers and printers go together, so it just makes sense.” So you enjoy your work? “Well, you don’t want it to be a chore every day. If I didn’t like fixing printers, I wouldn’t be doing it.” Is it that simple? “Yup.” What’s harder: machines or people? “Depends if the people are grouchy!” Do you like people generally? “Most of them! You can’t change the grumpy ones so you do what you can.” Is it overwhelming to work here, having to know so many people? “It takes a while to get to know everyone. I do see a lot of people.” Do you know people’s names? “Of course! It’s important. Doing that creates a bond and allows for people to get to know you.” How do you manage stress? “I’m pretty much a calm, relaxed person. I try not to keep any stress on me. I don’t rush. I make sure I have enough time to work on the printer and do it right the first time. Rushing means making mistakes and, in the end, that takes longer and is more stressful. Slow and steady is better. Long-term, that pace will save you.” What about the stuff you can’t control? “Well, then I talk to people. Whatever’s on my mind, I try to speak to it. Being stressed out isn’t healthy – holding it all in is bad. You’ll just explode. It’s better to have confidence in people and be open with them. It goes both ways: you share and talk with them and they will do that with you in return.” Charlene says you’re a cyclist; is that true? “Yes. I’ve been biking for about three years. I just bought a road bike and tried it out. It was really fun. It’s great exercise.” Are you competitive with yourself? “That is really the whole point to it. I challenge myself. You gotta set goals for yourself.” What is one word for Lambton College? “Inspiring.”
Guy Bertrand: Can you talk a little about your background, Guy? "Yes, I’m proud of my roots and I have never forgotten them. I came from a small town in Northern Ontario where many there worked in the mines to make a living. I had the chance to work in that environment for a couple of summers and I learned a great deal of respect for what they did – the contributions they made. They were very much a part of the fabric of our society. That’s an important thing to remember: how all the spokes in the wheel are necessary and so need to be strong in order to deliver a strong product as a collective." How do you balance budgets and bottom lines with compassion and people? "A number isn’t just a number. It’s a person with a family making a contribution here. I really value not making a decision based on impulse, especially when there are cuts to make. I want to look, look again… make sure and really reflect on it. I want to look at alternatives and see what we can do. Sometimes, there aren’t any alternatives and we’ve exhausted avenues to where we’re faced with impacting people. But we keep asking the question: is this the right decision for the organization and employees, and for the students? It’s the students that we’re here for, so ultimately we have to make decisions that are in the best interests of the students. It’s all our jobs to make this environment the best it can be. I might be steps removed from the front line of this work – of teaching our students – but I keep in mind how important the role of the faculty is in the growth and development of our students, and I work with that goal in mind. We have many here who work in management and supportive roles, and that work is also very important, but I remember that having talented faculty is what leads to quality graduates. Consideration of that lends itself to the strength of the institution. We need to create the professional development opportunities and other facets of wellbeing in the environment to ensure that the best quality of education is possible. We are nothing without a strong credential and we need to do a stellar job of ensuring that exists. If we don’t have quality, we don’t have much. I once asked my son what was the most valuable experience in his education at McMaster’s, in terms of the academic experience, and he said undoubtedly it was the faculty members – the memorable teachers. That’s what he told me and that’s what stays with me. I lived next door to a faculty member who worked here through the 70s into the 90s - Mr. Eede, Gerry Eede. He was a fine teacher. And do you know how I measure that? He had a number of grads who came back to see him. They were always dropping in for visits – had a half case of beer with them – just to come back and have a visit in the back yard with him. They don’t forget people who have made a difference in their lives." What are we working towards? What’s the goal for us here? "To educate people in the most holistic way possible. They need to possess good interpersonal skills, relational abilities, and problem-solving skills - be compassionate decision-makers… and they need to care. They need to care in order to be effective." What do you enjoy the most about your work? "I have the most satisfaction in my work when I am being a mentor to others. I love teaching others – providing some guidance based on my background and experience and what I’ve learned in my years. To me, that’s the key. But at the same time, you must keep learning yourself. I love learning and I’m sixty-seven; I still have much to learn! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I haven’t retired: I still feel that I am making a contribution and helping others and I still feel like I’m learning. It’s helped me that I’ve had multiple careers in the College system; that diversity has helped me gain perspective. I began as a finance person. I spent sixteen years at Cambrian College; Human Resources came later. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with physical resources, IT, auxiliary services, the Registrar’s Office – each of these have been under me at various times in my career. Collective bargaining is one of my main areas. I’ve been on ten collective bargaining teams and I’ve chaired three of those. This kind of diversity has been such a bonus because my understandings of the workings of the College go deep as a result." How do you manage your stress? "Well, I think what I do and have outside of these walls matters and contributes to how I manage stress. For me, family is number one. They are the most important part of my life." Can you share a little bit about your family? "Yes, Maureen and I have two sons. Kurtis is in Calgary and Darren in San Diego. Both sons are married and each has two kids - one with two girls, the other with two boys." So, how do you balance time with your family – especially with such distance - with the job you have? "We make effort to spend quality time together. They come here and we go there. I devote time and effort to the relationships and I think we have good, solid bonds. And this is also where the new role of technology comes in. I was talking to my granddaughter last night. She’s three years and ten months old and we were skyping. She said, 'Papa, I want you to come into the playroom with me, so I can show you my new masterpiece.' I also have very good friends from diverse backgrounds – certainly not all from education. I love talking about what they do when we get together – talking about what their concerns are. It takes me out of my perspective, and allows me time with them and with their challenges, and that lends itself to a renewed vantage point for me so that I can look at things differently. It’s like resetting the start button. It gives me a fresh start. I’m pretty blessed with the people I have around me and I believe that a lot of that goes to defining and reinforcing my character. They definitely keep me grounded and allow me to expect that same relational strength and the same kind of values here too." Okay, but what about those bad days – those really stressful times. What happens then for you? "Well, everyone has stress and frustration and you need to have a safe haven, where you can speak openly to your concerns and what’s upsetting to you. That’s important - to get that out. In my family, we like to say that you’re allowed a ten minute pity session, where you can say what’s on your mind. But then you have to get back up and get back in there. With people you can trust, who will hear you and allow you to vent, it permits the opportunity to be human with whatever’s bothering you and then you can move on and get back to work." What do you think you’re known for, here at the College? "I believe I’m known for how I value face-to-face interaction with people. In fact, here in the Human Resource Centre, we have a saying: 'We believe the most important resource is Human.'” When you walk away and close your office door for the last time, what feeling do you think you’ll have? "I think I’ll leave with a whole sense of pride. This is a great institution and I know I was able to make a contribution to that. I made a difference in people’s lives. That’s important and so I know I can feel good about that."
Erica Kelly: Can you explain a little about your academic background, Erica? “Sure, I started with an undergraduate degree in English at Brock University, then I completed a Master’s in English at Queen’s. I loved English but I wanted to be connected to others in a practical way. I was writing but I felt I wanted to do something more. I thought that helping others meant more than writing and I wanted to 'do stuff.' So, I continued on with my education with a Master’s of Social Justice at Brock. After completing that, I felt that the experience was great and I very much enjoyed it, but in the end, I realized that writing IS doing stuff! So I went on to complete a PhD in English at Western, and I was happy with that. I was always justifying – celebrating and justifying – both activism and writing, the theory and the art. I was looking at them as two separate entities. But I realized that these two experiences are most powerful when they coexist. When these two came together for me, I learned that they do not exist separately; you don’t go out and experience and then stay home and write. You go out AND you write. The two come together and they are naturally together.” You didn’t want to put up your credentials on the wall of your office initially. Why is that? “I am thinking that there is too much emphasis on the credentials and not on what kind of people we are. What we are doing and how we are living our lives - that’s more important.” You moved back to the Sarnia area after school? “Yes. I’m from Point Edward. All my sisters and my parents are from the area. I have two little kids: Hayden who is three and a half, and Beatrice who is two. Raising them with all their cousins and aunts and where their grandparents are is pretty fantastic.” How did having kids change you? “I feel like having kids has made it impossible to read a certain type of book or watch a certain type of movie. I’m more sensitive to how it impacts me now. I also feel like I am more empathetic to parents who have a single income and how much work it is. I am very fortunate in that my husband stays at home and I’m the breadwinner. I feel super lucky for that. With my kids, I want them to know I love my home and them very much but also that I love my job. If I was going to do something that took me away from them, it would be something I loved and that I believed in.” What’s the most noticeable quality about you? “I really hope the most noticeable quality is that I am kind, because I try to be. Everything is easier with kindness. I think there’s a difference between being kind and being nice. Kindness is deeper. It means listening and truly caring.” What is your motivation. What inspires you, drives you? “I so want students to know that they can use their voices and be heard. Many students don’t feel they will be good at English – that they can’t write. When you see that moment where they realize ‘Of course I can write!’ When they say, ‘I have something to say and it’s worth other people hearing it’ and that they’re proud of it – that’s what inspires me. But I also just love it!” Why is authenticity so important to you? “I just really want to know what’s going on. I think I really want to help and if people are sheltering who they really are, they’re no chance of connecting and addressing what’s going on.” Are you quiet in social situations? “If I’m quiet, it’s because I’m listening. I’m purposeful in not wanting to override someone’s contributions. I want to be able to hear them. I find, in a situation where someone is dominating conversation, people are just really needing to talk. I try to listen and allow for them to express themselves. I feel that often, it is more the needing to be heard more than the content of what is said.” What is the most challenging part of teaching for you? “The students I can’t connect with. The in-between ones who are physically there but their minds are someplace else. I’m starting to learn that it’s way beyond me sometimes. But it’s difficult wanting to help but not being able to get to them.” What would you change about the education system? “I would make it free. No one should be prevented an education because of debt. I really loved school. So I would want to see more space in education for students to explore what their interests are. I would love more room to do more thinking – to discover who they are as citizens – because finding who you are is as important as finding what skills are useful to you.” What is the most fundamental part to your teaching experience here at Lambton? “The community, the people. The support that I got from the moment I got here was completely amazing. I found this environment ridiculously supportive when I first arrived here. Everyone was asking me if they could offer help or materials. And when I first arrived, I was pregnant. So many people offered congratulations. They threw me a baby shower and I got so many wonderful gifts. It was overwhelming and it was amazing! If I had a question about anything, I knew I could go to fifteen different people at any point. From where I came, people were more possessive, more isolated. They were more concerned with things like intellectual property and credit. They didn’t share. And that didn’t feel like a fit for me. Here, there is very much a community feeling. People are generous with each other. So much of what we do is collaborative in nature and that is the one thing I couldn’t live without. That sense of community makes working fun and it allows me to get better at what I do.”
Carissa Horley: Are you from the area? “Yes, I was born in Toronto. Both parents worked for Imperial Oil and they were transferred here when I was four.” Why did you take the (Office Administration) OA program at the College? “Well, before I was in the OA program, I did a year at university, then I worked for a while, and then I did my first year of ECE here. But my heart just wasn’t in school, so I quit it. Then, I moved to England for two years. I worked in an administrative role while I was there and I enjoyed it a lot, so when I came back, I knew what I wanted to do. When I enrolled the second time at Lambton, working towards a diploma for the work I’d already been doing, I was ready. I already knew I enjoyed the work, so it was easy for me to focus and learn. I was in a different frame of mind. I wanted it and so it worked out. When I registered for it, I remember my attitude was ‘this is just a piece of paper,’ but I learned so much more in the program. I learned what I wanted to do and where I wanted to work as well as what I was capable of. I learned so much about myself in the program. Sherri Veilleux, in particular, was instrumental in that and she continues to be an amazing mentor for me.” Then, after graduation, you started work here? “Yes, I started employment as a lab tech for the OA program, but then I left for two months when the position ended and found employment elsewhere. After a couple of months, a full-time job opened up in Part-time Studies and I applied for that and got the position. From there, I moved into Coop and then finally to here, as the Administrative Assistant to the Dean, working in the School of Business and Creative Design. I feel very lucky as a support staff here. I can move around the College in different positions, if that’s something I want. With that kind of opportunity, I can experience a lot and learn the different roles and what they do.” What is the skill that you do really well at? “I’d say that I’m organized. Now that I’ve been here long enough, I have found that changing and adapting procedures to make things more efficient is something that I like to do. It takes about a year in a role to understand it. Then, you can dig into the job and make changes for the better.” What’s the best thing about Lambton College? “The people, no question. Some of my closest friends I’ve met through work here. It’s a relatively small community, as far as a college goes, and so we can interact with each other regularly. People are always willing to help others here. No one wants anyone to fail and they will help wherever possible. So, if I need to know anything, I’m not afraid to ask a question because I know they genuinely want to help.” Was it hard coming back after having Katie? “It is hard to come back but at the same time, I was looking forward to it.” Why looking forward? “Not that there’s not a lot to do and to be engaged with at home, but I enjoyed the change because it meant being mentally stimulated again and interacting with others. I like being needed in my role. To be honest, I found that I was better focused at both work and home once I came back to work. I think this is because I can appreciate my time in both places as I move from one to the other. I feel like I am more present in the place I’m at, whether it’s work or home, so I can get the most from what I’m doing in each place.” How do you deal with conflict? “Well, I think it depends on who and what you’re dealing with. This is one of the things I’ve been working on because I’m not a person who is really outgoing until I really get to know you, so when it’s conflict with individuals I’m not familiar with, I find that I avoid those dynamics. I’ve been working at dealing with things directly - being honest with people and having those conversations. I think I’m growing in that area. Having conflict with others isn’t easy, and taking it head-on can be difficult to do, but that work is important and the outcome of that honesty means stronger relationships and better quality work.” What is one quality that would accurately describe you? “I try to be approachable so I think that’s a good word to choose. I feel like people do feel comfortable with me to ask questions. I want to be a positive person and I want to be helpful to others. And, interestingly, I feel like I’ve been better at that after returning from Mat leave. I find I’m more positive, more real.” What’s your favourite day look like here at the College? “I’d say it’s when people stop in to say hi. Because this is a Dean’s office, generally we’ll see people when there’s a problem. So when people just drop by, it’s nice. I like that.”
Patrick Bennett: How long have you been in the job of Registrar now, Patrick? “I’ve been about ten weeks on the job.”Can you speak a little about your background? “Sure. I grew up in Saint George, which is a small town of about a thousand people. I grew up in an old farmhouse: it was built in 1834 and it was so old, you could see the bark on the rafters! I moved to attend Windsor University for Communications. After graduation, I worked in the film industry in the production offices. Then I started a second career by moving to Cambrian College. While I was there, I did a work study and was then hired on a contract basis as the Student Success Coordinator. The work of that role involved special projects that were related to underrepresented populations. There was a lot of outreach work. I was involved in the First Generations project in the first year of its development. I also worked with the School-to-Work Initiative and was involved a good deal with student leadership – a lot of student life. But I wanted to return to southern Ontario. The opportunity came up at George Brown College in the Financial Aid Office and I applied. So I then became Manager of Scholarships and Awards there. It was my goal while working in financial aid, and with all the work I’ve done, to promote access to education. That link has always been there for me. In 2011, I moved to Conestoga as the Manager of Financial Aid and I was there till I moved here to Lambton.” What was your first impression of Lambton? “I really liked Lambton College. It’s got a real team atmosphere. Lambton College appealed to me because of location and size but it was the role I became interested in. The role of Registrar is a continuation of my commitment to student access and student success.” Your grad degree is in… Interdisciplinary Humanities. It involved a broad range of course work subjects with a focused practicum.” On what did you do your practicum? “I did it at the Millennium Foundation, where I assessed scholarship applications.” Are you an introvert? “Yes.” Then are you a book person? If so, what books are favourites? “Yes, I do have some favourites. The first one that comes to mind is ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’ by Zora Neale Hurston. Another favourite is the ‘Tao Te Ching,’ by Lao Tzu.” Do you practice Taoism then? “No, but the philosophy has certainly influenced me, especially pertaining to leadership.” Morning or night person? “Well, I was a night person before I had kids. Now I’m just in a state of continual exhaustion!” How many kids do you have? “I have two, both girls. Sophie is five and Daelyn is three.” Are they now moved to Sarnia with you? “Yes, they are now but that’s just been recent. Before that, and since I came to the job, I’d been living in the Super 8 while my kids and wife were still in Brantford. But now they’re here. Sophie has just had her second week at school. When I first asked her what she thought of moving, she said that she would really miss her friends, but was okay with it as long as our new house had a beautiful staircase.” What’s your best day look like? “I like to do a lot of things in a day – different things, so that day will mean I could be doing any number of things. It would depend on my mood.” So you like to keep busy? But you’re an introvert so how do you manage this? “Well, it’s all about what busy looks like to me. A couple of hours of reading, a couple of hours being with my family, and a couple at the gym would be perfect.” When you are sitting in a meeting, what are you doing? “I’m listening.” Why? “I like to learn as much as possible about what the different perspectives are and where they are coming from.” What is one thing you’re looking for in this new position of Registrar? “It’s a continual cycle of moving those students through, so having them be successful in that process. I’m also looking forward to working with fantastic people in order to accomplish that.”
Mickey Sloot: When did you start at Lambton? “I think about 1986 or perhaps before. I’ve been counselling for forty-three years. I started at twenty-two and I’m sixty-five now.” What is your philosophy to helping others? “My philosophy is to treat all students as if they are family.” You are known for your directness. Why so direct? “This is just what I do. I find the directness is beneficial because people know where they stand with me. I try to give them good, accurate information and sometimes, I give them information that helps them to grow. I am idealistic to a fault but I have clear bottom lines. I follow what I want to do and I follow it until it’s complete. There is no waiting with me: I begin the work and get it done.” What is your greatest weakness or limitation? “I jump to conclusions too quickly. My mind is quick and in my profession, sometimes you need to wait. I’m good at brief, intervention counselling because of my tendencies this way.” So, what happens when you know something but you can’t say it. You see it, but you know it won’t benefit the individual by knowing? “I file it away and keep it on hold. Generally, it will come back and I will be able to use it. This is the case with personal counselling. I have these catalogues in my head and I don’t forget. And when the time is right, I bring out that information and use it.” Do you use this information as carrots along the way for the process? “Yes, I can use the information to move things forward.” What is most beautiful about life? “Oh, God – everything! Beauty is everywhere! We just have to find the beauty in it by seeing it. It’s a matter of the eye perceiving it. In every situation, there is beauty.” What is the best attribute of human beings? “Their warmth – their genuineness. That’s what under all of us as people if kindness is there. I can work with any student if there is thoughtfulness and caring. The beauty of the College is our caring for our students. The vast majority of the faculty and staff – we care very much. We understand that it’s not just that they are students, they are people and we treat them as such. The bigger colleges you don’t get that to the same degree.” Do you have a word to describe you as a person? “I like upstanding as a word. I’m honest. I have a lot of integrity and I have strong values that are not debatable. I have a path and I follow that. I’d also say that justice is very important to me. I have a strong reaction to any perceived injustice. My tenure at the College reflects this approach. Speaking out and making things right is very important work to me.”
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