Determined learners never done studying

Eleven learners from a variety of educational institutions and agencies received Adult Learner Awards from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12. Three Western students were among the recipients. A fourth Western student received the SAGE (Students Aged Gracefully through Experience) Student of the Year Award at the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by The Student Success Centre on April 5.

Lucy Spasic
Nurse Practitioner (NP)/
Primary Health Care



Nurse Practitioner/Primary Health Care student Lucy Spasic has overcome pain and limited mobility resulting from her cerebral palsy in order to excel.

A program normally completed in two years of full-time study has taken five. Yet despite her challenges, Spasic remained an inspiration inside and outside the classroom.

“Lucy is cheerful and never complains about her own personal issues,” said Psychiatry professor Dr. Joann Leavey. “She deals with her challenges head on.”

Spasic holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Trent University and an RN diploma from Fanshawe College. She worked as a nurse and taught in Fanshawe’s nursing program for two years before she was encouraged to continue her education.

Her dream was to complete the Nurse Practitioner program as it provided exactly what she was looking for. This credential will allow her to work in a clinical setting, set her own hours and provide primary health care. Also, Spasic will use her own experience and knowledge of managing pain to help others with the same challenges.

Dennie (Denise) Doyle
Media Theory and Production



As Dennie (Denise) Doyle entered the winter term of her third year, her world was shattered when she lost her 23-year-old son to suicide just before Christmas 2014.

Doyle started her postsecondary education 20 years ago at Fanshawe College in television broadcasting and journalism. But the single mother postponed her studies to raise her son, DJ. Today, she is finishing her career as a student in the joint Media Theory and Production (MTP) program, where she specialized in Media, Information and Technoculture at Western and Radio Broadcasting at Fanshawe.

Her son’s passing changed everything midway through her studies. At that time, Doyle sought help from London Health Science Centre’s Adult Mental Health Ward to cope with her devastating loss. Hospitalized for the first eight weeks of the winter term, she insisted, against hospital orders, on taking the necessary passes to leave the hospital and attend classes. Attending lectures, being on campus surrounded by peers and faculty that genuinely cared for her well-being, gave her a sense of purpose and focus. The support of her colleagues – students and professors – buoyed her.

And she will graduate this spring.

Her focus after graduation is to increase support and awareness for both the mental health and video gaming communities. Determined to improve her life and the lives of others is leading Doyle down the path to teaching, particularly those interested in gaming, and in doing so, honour her late son.

Ira Timothy
Public Relations



Ira Timothy completed his post-degree diploma in Public Relations at Western Continuing Studies, and was a significant presence in the course, Professional Practice for Public Relations. Timothy, immensely proud of his First Nations heritage, offered his perspective as an active participant in group discussions and activities, and his desire to expand his knowledge beyond class time impressed his instructor.

His curiosity was demonstrated by an eagerness to stay behind and keep conversations going after class, making additional connections between the material and his own goals. He is a born networker and unafraid to reach out and extend his hand to make a new connection, which will be a great asset as he begins his career in public relations.

Despite his affinity for metal music, Timothy delighted and surprised his class by sharing his final project, his ePortfolio, in the form of a rap, a testament to his joyful presence and spirit, mixed with his quirky sense of humour.

He does not claim to be a role model – only someone trying to do his best. There is always something more to learn and to do, he stressed.

Heidi Steeves



Heidi Steeves received the SAGE (Students Aged Gracefully through Experience) Student of the Year Award at the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by The Student Success Centre on April 5.

As mature students often juggle multiple roles, Steeves suggested kickstarting the centre’s Facebook page to get more students connected in an easy online format. She knew this would appeal to many students in the group.

She started posting discussion questions such as “How do you manage your time? What sort of schedule do you use?” She also responded to discussions about graduate school and set up a session so students who wanted to talk about grad school could get together. Heidi also offered help to students who were struggling with the technological requirements of being a student. Heidi’s work has resulted in a rewarding increase in activity on the Student Success Centre Facebook site.

“Deciding to attend school at 40 was both daunting and exciting,” Steeves said. “At Western, I have experienced challenges and also incredible support from my department, professors, peers, student services and the university groups I have joined. My involvement in the university community has been both personally and professionally rewarding, providing me with many opportunities for growth and skills development.”

Steeves will be in her fourth-year of the Honors Specialization in Philosophy this coming year.