Where are you from?
I grew up in the Air Force and was born at CFB Cold Lake in Alberta, but I also lived in Borden and Petawawa in Ontario, Montreal, Comox on Vancouver Island and then Ottawa. I was the last of five kids and the only one to start and finish at the same high school. After high school, I moved to Williams Lake, B.C. before heading to the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University where I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I’ve lived in Lethbridge since 2002. We moved here after my husband, Craig (Dr. Craig Coburn), was hired by the Geography department.
How long have you been at the U of L and what do you do here?
I’ve been working at the U of L since 2003 and this is the third position I’ve held. I was originally hired to manage the Alberta Institute for Water Research. The institute closed down after three-and-a-half years and I was hired to manage the Prentice Institute when it was being created. In 2010, I started with the School of Graduate Studies where I manage graduate scholarships and awards for all the faculties on campus. There are internal awards but many come from external agencies, which can be provincial, national or even private. I make sure students are aware of them, arrange the adjudication process as needed and manage the funding.
What’s the best part of your job?
It is always a great moment when I can tell a student they were successful in their scholarship application. I thoroughly enjoy working with and for our graduate students, learning about all the research they are doing. The diversity of research is phenomenal and the quality is amazing.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
That I compete in Olympic weightlifting. I started doing it post knee-surgery. I injured my knee while running an agility course with my dog. I had surgery to clean out the damaged cartilage (but never did do the reconstruction of the tendons) and, once I was recovered, I started working with Chad Brandt doing personal training at our gym here. He was the one who showed me Olympic weightlifting. He thought I’d be good at it. The lifts are quite technical but, of course, strength does help. I was just doing it for the fun and as an activity, but Chad was the one who told me I should compete and got me out on the platform at competitions. We do two lifts — the snatch and the clean and jerk. My best performance in the snatch was 61 kg and, for the clean and jerk, 80 kg. My present-day coach, Sean Cassidy, and fellow teammate, Maria Roundtree, encouraged me to go further. For someone who’s never competed outside Alberta, I am now going to the World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Montreal in August. It’s an international competition and you have to qualify for it. The International Weightlifting Federation ranks all the athletes regardless of their weight and age and the top 700 athletes are invited to compete. Overall, I was ranked 80th and, in my age and weight category, I was ranked first. It seems very surreal. For the first time in my life I’m an internationally ranked athlete. I can’t believe it.