Twelve learners from a variety of educational institutions and agencies received Adult Learner Awards from the London Council for Adult Education earlier this month. Three Western students were among these award recipients. A fourth Western student received the SAGE (Students Aged Gracefully through Experience) Student of the Year Award in April.
Ahmed Al-Rubaye never turned his back on a chance to better himself at Western.
When he was looking for feedback and resources to build a resume, he researched his industry, attended workshops, utilized career drop-in services and worked tirelessly on constructing the perfect document. He took the same approach when it came to interview preparation. On top of completing his degree, Al-Rubaye increased his learning opportunities and lengthened the amount of time it would take him to finish his studies by participating in Western’s internship program.
He was admitted into the internship program and competed for one of its few available positions. Not surprisingly, he secured a position and spent eight months working and gaining invaluable experience.
Al-Rubaye not only juggled his academic commitments; he juggled an entire life outside of Western.
Last summer, he and his wife welcomed their first baby girl, although a bit prematurely. For the couple, this joyous occasion proved stressful, and, as summer turned into the start of a new academic year, they were still watching and caring for their baby girl at Victoria Hospital.
For a graduating Accounting student, September brings a number of obligations. The start to your final year of courses, the endless amount of recruitment sessions, job applications and, if lucky, interviews. Al-Rubaye’s dedication to academics and family served him well, however, as the day he was offered the job he hoped for he and his wife also brought home their baby girl.
In 2005, a workplace accident nearly took Paul Marques’ life. He survived, but not without serious injuries to his body and dramatic disruption to his family life.
After three years of surgeries and physiotherapy, he was a 32-year-old husband and father, whose decade-long career as a licensed tool and die maker was over. Stressed, worried and frustrated, all with a new baby at home, he was terrified he would be unable to provide for his new family.
That’s when he turned to education.
He entered King’s University College as a part-time mature student. After a successful part-time run, he began studies as a full-time Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) student the following September. From the moment he stepped into his first class, Marques had to adjust. He stood out not only because of his age, but because of his life and work experiences. No matter, he loved his professors and enjoyed every class.
Many knew Marques at King’s, but few knew his story.
After King’s, he was accepted into the Honors Business Administration (HBA) program at the Ivey Business School. He graduated on the Dean’s List and was voted by his peers as their class valedictorian.
For the Marques family, it has been a bumpy ride, but a ride with purpose. Marques re-directed his life at Western, all while demonstrating the value a mature student can bring to all in the classroom.
Marques is currently working towards his CA-CPA designation at KPMG LLP’s London office. He misses the classroom, however, and hopes to return in a teaching role after completing his designation.
Sienna Jae Taylor
While considering additional education beyond her Western BA, Sienna Jae Taylor discovered Western Continuing Studies’ Not-for-Profit Management Program, and she knew it was perfect.
Taylor completed an Honors Specialization in Anthropology and a major in Sociology in 2013 with the Gold Medal for Anthropology. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she focused on cultural diversity and social inequality. Taylor chose to pursue her education after her BA because she loved being in an environment where people think critically about the world.
The Continuing Studies program allowed Taylor to break out of her comfort zone and appreciate learning in a team environment. She values the opportunities to network and create connections in the city.
For Taylor, this learning experience was not just a means to an end – it has been about opening her eyes to a new world, a new way of working, learning and living.
Taylor is currently doing her practicum at the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, and would like to continue working with organizations that focus on meaningful community development efforts in the future.
SAGE Student of the Year Award
Ann Teve, BA’78 (Economics), MBA’82, received the SAGE (Students Aged Gracefully through Experience) Student of the Year Award for her support of the Society for Mature Students. SAGE embodies both the wisdom of experience and flavour their contribution mature students bring to the Western academic experience for all.
Retired after a 28-year career in business as an employee, executive and entrepreneur, both nationally and internationally, Teve has returned to Western as an undergraduate in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.
“For me, the point of business was the people,” she said. “Now, I have the opportunity to apply my efforts directly to the benefit of others. Applied knowledge, like economics or business studies, might make you a better employee, but the liberal arts make you a better person.
“The former might get you a better job; the latter will most certainly get you a better life.”
Teve is a fount of inspiration born of rich, diverse experiences.
“University should be a time of rightful self-indulgence that awakens all your potential and reveals the munificence of life,” she said. “Every class and conversation, every essay and exam, every campus moment — social or academic — should feed your appreciation of life, of who you are and who you can become.”
The award was presented at the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards, presented by the The Student Success Centre, on April 2.
Donna Moore is a career counsellor and mature student advisor at the Student Success Centre: Careers, Leadership and Experience.
This story originally appeared in the May 22, 2014 edition of Western News.