Education is important, and I think it’s important for residents to know my education journey and my approach to lifelong learning. The desire to learn and research new ideas and concepts is important even in municipal politics. It’s critical to have those critical thinking skills, to be able to delve deeper into an issue and make sense of the complicated.
As an alderman, you have to be an excellent communicator and listener, and find a way to connect with residents so they feel heard and engaged with local politics (when and if they choose to be).
I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible, but providing enough so there is an understanding of who I am, and what I’ve accomplished and what I hope to continue to do in the future. This will hopefully also speak to how I feel my education has prepared me to be an effective alderman on council.
Heading to NAIT
Right out of high school, I attended NAIT for the Radio and Television Arts program. I majored in radio. I thought I wanted to be quasi-famous and have some talk show and interview celebrities. I was likely just too young and all over the place to really know what I wanted to do, but knowing I wanted to go on to post-secondary. I learned a tremendous amount in broadcasting school- public speaking, new writing styles, how to interview (and really listen), speech writing, and of course how to talk on the radio or TV- all skills that I think an alderman can do well with.
Getting an education at MacEwan University
I went back to school shortly after. I attended MacEwan University (at the time College) and was in the Bachelor of Arts university transfer program. My thought was I’d go to school, get my B. Ed and be a teacher like my parents. Plans change. I ended up getting an Arts diploma instead (with some education courses sprinkled in there). Being elected as VP and President for the Students’ Association, I got to take many courses over my four years at MacEwan, including entrepreneurship courses and Human Services courses. I was already an interdisciplinary scholar and didn’t even know it!
Working and going to school at Athabasca University
While I worked in the communications field, I went back to school to finish my communication degree. I went to school part-time, taking courses through Athabasca University and completed my Bachelor of Professional Arts degree Communications in 2008. A communications degree lent itself to my profession in marketing and communications and I was able to see where the world was going, especially online and in digital marketing.
Learning my interests in-depth
I took a few years off from school, well- formally anyway. In between my degree and master’s degree, I took an Organic Master Gardening certification from Gaia College and the Multicultural Centre in Stony Plain as well as my level 1 sommelier certification course from the International Sommelier Guild. I just loved to learn and have always found a way to educate myself in the things I love.
Back to Athabasca University for my master’s degree
I was fortunate to be hired as the Manager of Marketing and Social Media at Athabasca University. Within two weeks of me being hired, I was enrolled in my Master of Arts (Integrated Studies) degree. This degree is an interdisciplinary degree and I was lucky enough to do two focus areas: Work, Leadership and Organization and the second being Writing and New Media. This master’s degree challenged me like I’ve never been challenged before. Every course taken was looked at from a multi-disciplinary aspect. But you learn quickly that you have to look at a problem from several anglers and that the answer to a question isn’t necessarily wrong, depending on your viewpoint. My final project was on generations in the workplace. If you’d like to read my final paper, let me know (you’ll likely be the third person to ever ready it, ha!)
Understanding the generations and need for representation
We have five generations in our workplace today (depending how you split the Millennials) and six generations living. Each generation has different needs, wants and expectations. This is why it’s so incredibly important to have a diversity of voices on city council. You need a city council that is aware that the demographics in our city have different needs and priorities and we have to address them appropriately.
My master’s degree will serve me well and certainly it taught me a lot about researching and digesting huge amounts of information and somehow making sense of it all (and writing 3,000 words essays to prove it).
But I didn’t stop there. Learning is a life-long habit.
I’m certified in social media marketing from Hubspot and Hootsuite.
Big data and UBC
I’ve completed the Data Analytics Award of Achievement certificate from UBC and what I learned in this program is why I’m pushing so hard for Spruce Grove to be an open data city. Big data is incredible and we can glean a lot from our data, if it were just made more readily available. City council could make really good decisions if we had access to the data, as could other organizations within the city. It’s about access and understanding how to make sense of the data.
Women in Leadership at Cornell University
And just yesterday, even with all this crazy election stuff going on, I completed my Women in Leadership certificate program from Cornell University. This program offered me so much insight into leadership and what women still face as barriers and issues in the workplace. But it wasn’t just lip service to say that we demand equality, but it gave practical tools and insights how we as women can achieve that greatness and that women do bring different leadership qualities and perspectives to their positions—and that’s not only okay, but desired and needed! Like any leadership program, I learned a lot on what it takes to be a good leader and have added to my skill set, of which I put into practice every single day.
I’m ready to lead and be a part of the team that leads this city as your elected representatives. I have the experience and I have the education. And next week, I’ll delve a little bit further into my areas of expertise that make me a trifecta of readiness!
Maybe it’s time I go back and take that level two sommelier course…