LtoR: Jayden, Nicole, and Dawson Spence
Nicole Spence works with Faculty of Education students at ULethbridge from the time they inquire about attending the program until the time they graduate. In her role as Program Assistant in the Student Program Services (SPS) office, Nicole does everything she can to help students get from Point A to Point B as smoothly as possible.
We’re here for the students,” says Nicole Spence. “We’re here to help them be successful in their goal of becoming a teacher.”
Nicole and her office are the first point of contact for students inquiring about programs in the Faculty of Education. “We’re the voice of the faculty when a student is interested in attending.”
She provides information students need about gaining admittance to the faculty, and also informs parents about what their children can expect at ULethbridge. “We try to ease parents’ minds about the transition.”
She also handles students’ needs as graduation approaches, ensuring they have the necessary requirements to graduate. After getting to know many of the students through their journey toward a teaching career, Nicole finds their departure bittersweet, but satisfying as well. “It’s gratifying to watch them go through the process and, at the end, to see that they were successful in not only the program but in landing a job.”
Nicole, who has worked in the SPS office for 25 years, had to learn to do things differently when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020. It brought a halt to the face-to-face contact she normally has with students. “It was a challenge to work from home. I enjoy people; I enjoy the social aspect. I did get used to it but I’m glad to be back.”
Whether working from home or in the office, Nicole enjoys her job. “Every day is different. Even after 25 years, there’s always something new you can learn.”
Away from work, Nicole keeps busy with sports, primarily those involving her two teenage sons, Jayden and Dawson, who play hockey and baseball. There are weekends when Nicole is travelling to one part of the province with one of the boys while her husband is off to another community with the other son.
“I’ve seen the province of Alberta like I never thought I would,” says Nicole, adding the hectic schedule “is neverending. I don’t have a lot of downtime really.”
Nevertheless, she enjoys it. “I complain about it but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know one day it will all end and I will be sad that it’s over.”
Nicole is accustomed to being on the go with sports after her own athletic career, which included many years playing soccer, including at Lethbridge College and the U of L. She helped the college win a national championship one year. She went on to coach soccer at both institutions for 10 years in total.
She continues to set a positive example for her sons by staying physically active. “I like to run (with my dog) and work out, plus working out is my stress reliever. If I’m truly being honest, my dog was my saving grace, (during COVID) making me get out and do things.” It’s important I stay in shape so I can follow my kids wherever they go.”
The example of staying active was originally set by her mother. “She still works out. She’s 82 and she walks the golf course regularly.”
Nicole used to compete in half-marathons but gave that up as her sons’ schedules became busier. Now she is thinking about returning to a sport she enjoyed in her youth: golf. “I was a junior golfer at Henderson when I was young. I play a round or two with my boys every year, depending on where and when we can squeeze it in. It’s also a sport that we as a family can enjoy, long after hockey and baseball runs its course.”
Writer: Dave Sulz | Photographer: Rob Olson
More stories about our staff:
• Faculty of Education profile, Jaime Iwaasa: Juggling the demands of career, studies, and family
• Faculty of Education profiles, Kirsten Livingstone with Cheryl Lynch-Staunton: The CurrLab—a place with things you wouldn’t necessarily have in your school
• Faculty of Education profiles, Scott Powell and Kevin Orr: Keeping up with technology and the evolution of education