Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Melville, Saskatchewan and graduated high school in June 1992. I dreamed of being a kindergarten teacher and every employment opportunity I held had a teaching aspect to it — park program leader, speed swimming coach, swimming instructor, lifeguard and fitness instructor.
I attended Medicine Hat College from 1992 to 1994 for business. However, I originally applied and was accepted into the Bachelor of Education program at MHC, but I switched to the business program prior to the start of that term. I had a terrible summer in 1992 of teaching swimming lessons, which resulted in me questioning whether I was meant to be a teacher. I regretted not pursuing my dream of being a teacher, and I continued to instruct and teach fitness and children’s programs to fill the void.
I was accepted at ULethbridge for Fall 1994 and I first considered pursuing a Bachelor of Education but switched my focus to a Bachelor of Management. I taught swimming lessons and lifeguarded at Max Bell throughout my years at ULethbridge. I also taught fitness classes on campus and at other fitness clubs in the city.
Six weeks prior to my convocation from ULethbridge in Spring 1997, my now mother-in-law introduced me to my husband who played hockey in Japan. He proposed to me on the evening of my convocation, which resulted in me pausing my plans to move to Calgary to pursue a career in marketing. I moved to Japan with my husband in August 1997 and what was only supposed to be two to three years in Japan ended up being 12 years. We always returned to Lethbridge for the summer months throughout those years. In Japan, I taught English and fitness classes, as well. We had two daughters during the years we were living in Japan and they attended school in Japan until we moved back to Lethbridge 11 years ago.
When we moved back from Japan, I inquired about an after-degree in education from ULethbridge, but decided to start my own fitness business and instruct fitness classes for moms, babies and children through ULethbridge Sport & Rec. I hoped this could result in an actual position with Sport & Rec., but when that didn't happen, I decided to commit to pursuing an after-degree in education. Unfortunately, I ended up on a wait list for the Faculty of Education and I was beyond devastated because I wholeheartedly believed I was meant to be a teacher. I was encouraged by a faculty member to apply for an educational assistant position with the Lethbridge School District to experience what it was like to be working in the schools today, and then reapply for the Faculty of Education in the new year.
The experience that I had working as an educational assistant was why and how I ended up where I am now, and is also why I chose this role over accepting an offer in the Faculty of Education that I received shortly after beginning in this role. I never dreamed I wouldn't accept an offer in the Faculty of Education to become the inclusive education coordinator here (a role in which I really did not know what to expect, but I just knew the importance of having an inclusive initiative for eligible students who had a dream of attending university). There truly is not a day that goes by that I do not reflect on my dream of being a teacher, but over the years I have been reminded by many special people that my entire life I have always been teaching…and have always been a teacher.
How long have you been at ULethbridge and what do you do here?
After being a student and then instructing fitness classes at ULethbridge, I started in the role of inclusive education coordinator in 2018 when the initiative, in partnership with Inclusion Alberta, was first introduced.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is supporting students along their journey and observing their growth over the years supported by the initiative. I help students envision achieving their goals for the future and creating a plan to reach them.
I also enjoy connecting with students supported by the inclusive initiative and truly getting to know them and their families. By collaborating with faculties and instructors, I support students as they connect with the campus community and the local community. And I love sharing information about this initiative with the University and local communities.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy instructing fitness classes (which I have done for over 30 years). I enjoy meeting and getting to know the members who attend classes and continue attending as alumni. Running keeps me happy and I especially enjoy date nights with my husband, spending time with my daughters and enjoying great wine with besties, friends and my Saskatchewan family!