Student Success Centre

Inspirational Students

Fourteen learners from a variety of educational institutions and agencies received “Adult Learner Awards” from the London Council for Adult Education (LCAE) on May 17, 2018. Three Western students were among these award recipients: Anmar Almukhtar, Erin Anderson and Martin Zivcak.

Anmar Almukhtar

Anmar Almukhtar

Nicole Tate-Hill, Academic Program Manager at Western Continuing Studies, was Anmar’s nominator. During Nicole’s presentation, she said: “After graduating from medical school in Iraq in 1993, Anmar went on to specialize in cardio-thoracic surgery, becoming a fully certified specialist surgeon in 2001. Upon the outbreak of war in 2003 and the subsequent civil war in 2006, Anmar and his family fled the violence in Iraq; seeking a safer place to live and build a future. After relocating to the UAE, Anmar received an opportunity in 2013 to immigrate to Canada under the Skilled Worker Immigrant program. As a volunteer for the Red Cross, MLHU and a CERV member, Anmar began to pursue a medical career in Canada. Unfortunately, the obstacles to secure a residency as an internationally trained physician were substantial. Undeterred and determined to stay in the medical community, Anmar successfully obtained admission to the Diploma in Clinical Trials Management at Western Continuing Studies. Thriving in the program, Anmar has been an asset to our learning community. We look forward to watching him grow throughout his practicum and career, and sincerely appreciate the opportunity to celebrate his achievements. We offer our sincere congratulations to you, Anmar!”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson

Meg U’Ren from The Student Success Centre was Erin Anderson’s nominator. Meg wrote: “Erin is, simply put, the best example of an adult learner in action. She began her studies full-time at Western in the fall of 2016. She immediately took an approach that focused on getting involved and making the most of her time. In her first year, she became involved in a number of groups on campus. Erin is hard-working, dedicated, a strong advocate for all mature students on the campus. She has spent the last year working as the Student Coordinator of the Society of Mature Students (SMS). In this role, she has consistently dedicated considerable time and energy into helping other adult learners adjust to life at Western. In fact, so many students took the time to recognize Erin at a recent award ceremony held. Erin has also maintained a high academic average and is a member of the Western Scholars program. I’m proud to know her and proud of all she has achieved.”

Erin was asked to speak at the LCAE awards ceremony. In her speech, she said, “Regardless of our starting points, our motivators, our aspirations, I think I can safely assume that the roads we have taken have come with many twists and turns, not to mention panic inducing steep hills that have caused us to grip our seats, afraid of sliding back down. But somehow, we always make it to the top.” 

Martin Zivcak

Martin Zivcak

Meg U’Ren also nominated Martin Zivcak. Martin began his studies at Western in the fall of 2015 after graduating from the General Arts and Science program at Conestoga College, where he achieved a 98% program average and received several prestigious awards, including the President’s Honour List Award. Martin maintains a very high academic average at Western as well, and he is also a member of the Western Scholars program. Of Martin, Meg wrote: “Martin is an excellent example of an adult learner at Western. During this past year, Martin began a role as a Mature Student Mentor in our Society of Mature Students (SMS). Martin’s mentees described him as follows: ‘Respectful, outgoing, caring, and extremely helpful. Martin is highly motivational and an inspirational leader. Helped me to smoothly
transition to the university. Got me acclimated to the several aspects of the university life. Kept me on track by regularly checking on me about my academic progress. Provided important contact information for part time jobs and research opportunities at Western. Organized get togethers for all the mentees.’”

Meg went on to add, “most importantly, Martin provides his mentees with unconditional moral support. Martin is not just a student with exceptionally high grades, more importantly, he is always willing to help others! Martin goes beyond his responsibilities as a SMS Mentor, helping not only his peers within SMS, but also his classmates outside of SMS. Martin's passion and enthusiasm gets others quickly on board, enabling them to reach their true potential. Martin's exceptional ability to understand unique challenges of individual mature students, and his dedication to help overcome those challenges is what makes him a mentor who leads by example, helping to promote a great supportive environment within SMS.”

Meg and Donna are appreciative that the London Council for Adult Education celebrates all these moments of the mature student experience.

Mona Murdoch

Mona Murdoch

Attending Western was not something I believed I would ever have the privilege of doing. Being the youngest of nine children, motherless since the age of five and fatherless since the age of thirteen, my teenage years were full of distractions and lacking in guidance. Earning money to meet basic needs took priority over educational aspirations. After high school I opted for the Business Secretarial program at Durham College so I could keep my part-time job at the local library and enter the job market sooner. I landed a good-paying job, got married and raised three children while completing the Human Resources Management program part-time at Fanshawe to position myself better to fulfil my career goals. I have now enjoyed a rewarding career in labour relations for over thirty years.

Although my studies at Western were beneficial to my career, my decision to attend was motivated by a desire for personal improvement and a recognition of social responsibility. When our family became involved in helping a refugee family settle in our community, language was a major barrier. This led me to complete my TESOL certification (teaching English to speakers of other languages), and that is when Western entered the picture. My daughter, a Western graduate, suggested I take some English courses to complement the TESOL. So, at the age of forty-eight I enrolled at Western, quite oblivious of how the experience would change the way I think.

Learning at Western was like exercising my mind. My professors inspired me to stretch existing thoughts, to examine long-held beliefs, and to contemplate new ideas. Gradually, these exercises became habit that increased my tolerance for beliefs unlike my own, and tolerance makes the world a better place. This is one reason why, like my benefactor Angela Armitt, I advocate life-long learning.

Mona Murdoch received the Angela Armitt award for obtaining the highest average among part-time students graduating at the February In Absentia convocation, 2017.


Colten Atkey

Colten Atkey played junior hockey in the United States for five years, while being homeschooled. Colton's hockey career showed promise until he received the devastating news at age 20 that he had Psoriatic Arthritis. The pain of the arthritis became too much for him to bear, and he was forced to retire from the sport shortly after being diagnosed.

Considering that Colton had been home schooled, he had much to learn about formal academics when he came to Western. And, at the time he started at Western, there had been an 8 year gap in his education. He struggled immensely for his first four years. He had never written an essay before. Never experienced a multiple choice test. On top of this, the arthritis continued to flare up, even to the point where the inflammation was so bad that he could no longer write, and he was taping the bottom of his feet every day to provide extra support to his arches. Despite these challenges, Colton kept a positive outlook, volunteering his time at numerous organizations, helping out at school functions, and helping to run the business operations for his Grandmother’s family farm. Growing up with a single mother, Colton was primarily raised by his Grandma, someone whom he values deeply to this day. Every summer he returns to his grandmother’s farm to help with the operations. Colton is an important role model for his younger sisters, aged 15 and 16. His 16-year-old sister even wrote an essay about him for her English class on how inspiring he was to her.

Colton graduated in 2016 with a cross disciplinary degree in social sciences. He then applied to Commercial Aviation Management and geography specialization and has completed year two of the module. Last term his average was 90 percent, something he worked very hard to achieve.

Colton was finally treated for his Psoriatic Arthritis in the summer of 2016, leading to an amazing new outlook on life. He has since made the varsity fencing team, was named as a 2017 City of London Diversity and Inclusion Champion, and has secured two medical research positions for the upcoming summer. He has kept the goal of medicine in his sights for many years, and he is plotting his course carefully toward that goal. Colton has also been accepted to Barbados for exchange in the 2017-18 school year and also managed to secure a research position with a cardiology clinic while he spends his year at The University of West Indies.

For these reasons stated above, Colton is an exemplarily candidate for the Adult Learner Award.


Devika Jayawardena

The story of Devika Jayawardena’s academic journey is interwoven with her family’s journey.

Devika, her husband Asanka and 2-year-old son Chathushka came to Canada from Sri Lanka motivated by better educational opportunities for their family. Today, Devika inspires her own children to study, two of whom want to become scientists just like their Mom.

After arriving in Canada, Devika studied at high school in Mississauga to upgrade her education. She had some of the highest marks in her classes and won a Trustee Award from the Peel District School Board in 2011. Devika’s daughter, Oneesha, was born during this time.

Encouraged by her academic results, she applied to University. This led her to discover a “Western University” in London, Ontario, a community that she was unfamiliar with. Western’s offer of admission was first among the universities she applied to, and Devika discovered a nice, quiet city with a bustling university which offered programs which aligned with her academic interests. Devika followed her passion in science and did well. After completing her third year of University and enrolled in a summer online course, Devika’s youngest, Ethushka, was born. In her fourth year, Devika was on the Dean’s honors list.

Devika is now completing her Masters of Science which has required her to put in very long hours in the lab. Some days started hours before the kids went to school and ended long after they were in bed. Devika’s efforts were rewarded by making very important human protein using E. coli as the host. She was able to overexpress human metallothionein isoform 2a or MT2a in E. coli in large quantities, which is a very difficult human protein to make in E. coli. MT2a is expressed in human liver predominantly, kidneys and some other tissues and are involved in metal binding. She is looking at zinc metallation pathways of MT2a using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. It took over a year of persistent effort for Devika to make this protein. This is important because elevated levels of MT can be seen in diseases such as Alzheimers and Pick’s disease. Over expression of MT can be found in the cancers such as thyroid cancer, uterine cervical squamous tumor, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. Devika is quick to acknowledge that she has received lots of help and support along the way.

Now Devika is anticipating an offer to start her PhD this fall. While her children miss her while she is at school, they are all very proud of her. The dream shared by both Devika and her husband is that all their children attend Western as well. Western considers Devika a most worthy recipient of an Adult Learner Award.


Rozan Trad

Western Continuing Studies was proud to nominate Rozan Trad for the Adult Learner Award. Rozan first came to Western Continuing Studies in 2014 to complete the Professional Certificate in Adult Education (now the Professional Certificate in Learning and Development). At the time, Rozan had recently moved to London from Saudi Arabia with her 2 young children and her husband, who was completing his medical residency at LHSC. Rozan is a dedicated lifelong learner, having completed both her BA degree in Japan, and her MBA degree in Saudi Arabia. Even though English is not Rozan’s native language, and with 2 small children to care for, Rozan was determined to make the most of her time here in Canada. So, she began to look into courses she could take that would support her occupation and former career (prior to leaving Saudi Arabia) in human resources and learning and development. Since completing her Professional Certificate in Adult Education with us, Rozan has gone on to take further courses through Western Continuing Studies in the area of Business Analysis. More recently, Rozan has been offered admission to the Master of Professional Education program at Western. Rozan looks to use her education to one day become a college/university instructor, or to continue to improve her skills as a workplace training facilitator. All of the team at Continuing Studies who have gotten to know Rozan over the years admire her drive and dedication, and her commitment to continuous improvement and lifelong learning.


David Seston

In other award news, at the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by The Student Success on April 4, 2017, David Seston was awarded the Society of Mature Students (SMS) Mentor of the Year Award. His nominator wrote: David is an exceptional student across the board. His passion and commitment for Mature Students is so evident. David is the kind of student you want on your team: he jumps in as needed and his enthusiasm is contagious. The SMS Mentor program was introduced this last academic year, and David is excited to be the first mature student who has been given this award. The mentoring program allows first-year mature students to connect with peers from their faculty, and the SMS runs events and programming throughout the year to ease the transition for mature students.


Lucy Spasic

Lucy Spasic is a student in the Nurse Practitioner (NP)/Primary Health Care program at Western. She has a congenital disability of Cerebral Palsy and has had to overcome pain and limited mobility to attend classes, clinics and generally keep pace. She is an excellent student with contributions both academically and through supporting her student colleagues.

Lucy, who holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Trent, completed her R.N. diploma through Fanshawe College in 2003. Lucy worked as a nurse and taught in Fanshawe’s Nursing program for two years. Lucy was encouraged to continue her education. Her dream was to complete the Nurse Practitioner program, but she wondered if she could manage the demands, especially the clinical placement requirement. She could have opted for a masters in nursing, which didn’t require clinical placements. But it was the NP program that she was looking for – this credential will allow her to work in a clinical setting, set her own hours, and provide primary health care.

It has been a grueling program, challenging Lucy’s stamina and her own pain. A program normally completed in 2 years of full-time study will have taken Lucy 5 years when she graduates this spring. On the plus side, extending the program has meant she has more clinical experience. With the addition of the Nurse Practitioner designation, Lucy will be able to use her own experience and knowledge of managing pain to help others with the same challenges.

Lucy has a particular affinity for the elderly and the pain they often confront. Lucy’s current patients really relate to her because they know her recommendations are based on science and her own personal experience. In addition to Lucy’s academic achievements, Lucy has received awards for her teaching in Western’s Compressed Time Frame Nursing Program, as well as her role as clinical placement instructor at Marian Villa.

Her nominator for this award, Dr. JoAnn Leavey, said “Lucy is cheerful and never complains about her own personal issues. She deals with her challenges head on.” Lucy’s is an inspiring story!

Lucy Spasic received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2016.


Dennie (Denise) Doyle

Dennie (Denise) Doyle started her post-secondary education 20 years ago at Fanshawe College in television broadcasting and journalism, but as a single mother she had to postpone her studies to raise her son DJ. Twenty years later, married and her son DJ having left the nest, Dennie decided to return to school to pursue her first passion and finish what she started two decades before. Dennie applied to and was accepted to Western’s unique collaborative program, Media Theory and Production (MTP). She specializes in Media, Information and Technoculture at Western and Radio Broadcasting at Fanshawe College.

At the age of 40, Dennie’s first step toward her pursuit of lifelong learning meant stepping out of her comfort zone and participating in Western’s Orientation week. Life experience told her getting to know her classmates would make adjusting to a full-time university environment a little easier. She felt age shouldn't matter when it comes to enjoying Western’s student experience. The friendships she formed with her peers became crucial in Dennie’s most challenging days and years ahead.

The MTP program requires first-year students to take a second year University writing course. Never having written an essay before, Dennie was intimidated and spent many extra hours to overcome her

fear of writing essays. Guidance from her peers, her tutor and utilizing Western’s resources, along with her desire, dedication and determination, helped Dennie achieve Dean’s honour list at both Western and Fanshawe.

Currently, Dennie continues to overcome the biggest challenge of her life: the loss of her 23-year-old son, DJ, who tragically took his own life just before Christmas 2014. The tragedy occurred just as Dennie was entering the winter term of her third year. Having foresight, Dennie admitted herself to the LHSC adult mental health ward to get the help she needed to cope with her devastating loss. Hospitalized for the first eight weeks of the winter term, Dennie insisted, against LHSC orders, on taking the necessary passes in order to leave the hospital and attend Western classes. Attending lectures, being on campus surrounded by peers and faculty that genuinely cared for her well-being and her success gave Dennie a sense of purpose and focus. Western’s faculty, her professors, peers, family and friends working together made it possible for Dennie to graduate as originally scheduled. Dennie will be graduating this spring, despite the tragedy in dealing with her own depression and will to live.

Dennie’s 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 Dennie down the path to teaching, particularly those interested in gaming, and in doing so, honour her late son. Dennie has found that possessing “the three D’s”: desire, dedication and determination, are needed to achieve and overcome anything in life. Dennie has inspired many of her peers, instructors, professors, even her friends, to never give up learning all you can, while you can, no matter what circumstances you must overcome.

Dennie Doyle received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2016.


Ira Timothy

Ira completed his post-degree Diploma in Public Relations at Western Continuing Studies, and he was a significant presence in the course, Professional Practice for Public Relations. Ira, immensely proud of his First Nations heritage, offered his unique perspective as an active participant in group discussions and activities, , and his desire to expand his knowledge beyond class time impressed his instructor. Ira’s curiousity, was demonstrated by his eagerness to stay behind to keep conversations going after class, making additional connections between the material and his own goals. He is a born networker; Ira isn’t afraid 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 hardcore metal music, Ira 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.

When Ira was informed of his nomination for this award, he remarked that he is not a role model but that he’s just trying to do his best. He continued to say that there’s always something more to learn and to do, a statement that emphasizes his passion for lifelong learning.

Ira’s instructor, Chris Thompson, was blown away by the number of awards and accolades Ira has achieved over the years. Now Ira will need to make room for the ever-expanding list of accomplishments for the LCAE Adult Learner Award he received on May 12.

Ira Timothy received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2016.


Heidi Steeves

At the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by The Student Success Centre on April 5, Heidi Steeves received the SAGE Student of the Year Award for her support of SAGE, the Society for Mature Students. The acronym SAGE stands for “Students Aged Gracefully through Experience” and embodies both the wisdom of experience that mature students bring to Western and the flavour their contribution adds to the academic experience of all.

Mature students are often juggling multiple roles, and attending events is challenging for them. Heidi suggested kickstarting our Facebook site to get more students connected in an easy online format. Heidi knew that this would appeal to many students in this 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 our Facebook site.

When Heidi described her experience, she wrote: “Deciding to attend school at 40 was both daunting and exciting. At Western, I have experienced challenges and also incredible support from my department, professors, peers, student services, and the university groups that 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.” Heidi will be in the 4th year of the Honors Specialization in Philosophy this coming year. Her particular field of interest is the philosophy of the mind.

Heidi has embraced being a mature student at Western, and is getting as much out of the experience as possible. We are fortunate that she is also giving back to the benefit of other mature and transfer students.


Jill Dombroski

At the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by the The Student Success Centre on April 7, Jill Dombroski received the SAGE Student of the Year Award for her support of SAGE, the Society for Mature Students. The acronym SAGE stands for “Students Aged Gracefully through Experience” and embodies both the wisdom of experience that mature students bring to Western and the flavour their contribution adds to the academic experience of all. 

Jill is weeks away from graduating with a double honours in Thanatology and Women's Studies.   This fall, she will start her Masters of Arts in Education here at Western.  Her research will focus on the ways that physicians deal with patient death.  She has already received much interest in her work from the medical community.

Jill has received a student undergrad award from the Bereavement of Ontario Network, and she now sits as a Member at Large on their Board.  Also, Jill recently attended the Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counselling  in San Antonio Texas.  While there, Jill received the "Undergraduate Student Paper" award.

In addition to being a positive role model to other mature students through her academic work, Jill initiated several “SAGE” events this year.  We know that when mature students get together, they pick up practical ideas on how to manage studies and their lives along with the important reminder that they are not alone in pursuing university education.

Jill describes her journey:  “When I took my first university class at Brescia as a part time student in 2007, I saw Ghandi’s words posted in their library: "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I stared at this mantra and wondered how I could ever contribute on this scale. Then in 2011, at the age of 40, after being accepted as a full-time student, the change I wished to see began.  Each professor, administrator, care-taker, coffee maker, parking attendant, friends and especially my family helped piece together my foundation. I can best describe my university education as a brick house. These individuals each contributed one brick of support either emotionally or financially to help build my education. ​I realized that it did not have to be about changes for the entire world--it was about the changes in myself that make the world better for my children and my family.​​  I can be the change I wish to see.”

Jill is making a difference here at Western.  Jill is also making a difference for her two sons, Pompeyo and Pablo, who attended the awards ceremony with their Mom.  They both went to the stage to help their Mom receive the award, and their pride in their Mom was very evident!


Bimadoshka (Annya) Pucan

Bimadoshka (Annya) Pucan is an Anishnaabe woman from Saugeen First Nation, Turtle Clan. Bimadoshka has become an active and contributing member of the local Indigenous community both on and off campus. She is a key player in advocacy for Indigenous student and women’s voices as part of the Idle No More movement and raising awareness of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.    During her years at Western, Bimadoshka has grown immensely and developed herself both academically and personally. Bimadoshka returned to school later on in life, and has worked very hard to earn high academic standings while simultaneously raising a family. As a single mother of three energetic boys (ages 15, 9, and 7), she dedicates herself whole heartily to being a positive role model to her children both on the pow wow trails as a jingle dress dancer, and in academia as a dedicated student.

Bimadoshka has successfully completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and First Nations Studies in 2013, and more recently completed the new and prestigious Masters’ in Public Health (MPH) program. She will not stop here though, today you will find her engrossed in literature and anthropological archives in the Western’s library stacks researching as part of her upcoming PhD thesis centering on the restoration and repatriation of cultural artefacts belonging to her home community: the Anishnaabe of the Bruce Peninsula.    In addition to her studies and her familial responsibilities, Bimadoshka has also been an Indigenous Services  staff member as the Food and Medicine Garden Coordinator. In this role, Bimadoshka has demonstrated strong leadership, innovative thinking, and a deep commitment to integrating Indigenous Knowledge into student services and programs. In a short time, she coordinated a series of Indigenous planting and harvesting workshops, a tincture making workshop, and a tobacco seed exchange. Bimadoshka also went above and beyond her coordinating duties to complete a project planning framework including a logic model with short and long term recommendations to improve future garden initiatives.     Bimadoshka has an unbounded spirit for learning, her dedication to her three children, and her invaluable contributions to our on-campus Indigenous community.

Bimadoshka Pucan received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 14, 2015. 


Priya Khalsa

Priya Khalsa was unable to finish high school due to mental health issues.  She was living with severe anxiety, depression, addiction issues, a personality disorder, an eating disorder, and spent several years going in and out of long-term mental health facilities.  She decided to finish high school during her pregnancy at the age of 21, and began to work towards recovery simultaneously. She applied to Western the following year. Returning to school has changed Priya’s life.  She moved to London with her 13 month old son in 2010. It was their first permanent home.  They had never been to London before and didn’t have any friends or family in the city.  As a single parent in a full-time degree program, it was very challenging balancing academic commitments with child care responsibilities. Priya worked hard to achieve a 90% average in her 2nd and 3rd years. She is graduating this June with an Honors Specialization degree in Health Sciences and a Minor in Psychology. Priya has been accepted to her first choice, University of Toronto’s Law School for September 2015. She applied to both medical and law schools as she has an equal interest in both areas.  Priya never envisioned that she would be able to accomplish her academic goals until she came to Western.    

She has also been an active part of the community for several years.  Priya has been a dedicated volunteer at Regional Mental Health London for the last 3 years. It has been an especially meaningful experience as a result of her personal history with mental illness. She is also a Facilitator for the Leadership Education Program and received the Leadership Educator of the Year award last year for her passion and commitment towards the program. Priya loves being able to help other students achieve their leadership goals.  Priya worked with Youth Opportunities Unlimited through Alternative Spring Break, London, 2013 and taught English with Outreach 360 through ASB Dominican Republic in 2014.  Priya also served as an English Conversation Circle Leader through the International and Exchange Student Centre and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the international student population. She was fortunate enough to complete an Independent Study through her faculty (Health Sciences) and elected to focus her thesis on the feasibility of creating an online mental health support and treatment program for post-secondary students in Canada. Upon completion, Priya was offered a job as Research Assistant in the Faculty of Health Sciences helping to implement an online course for new incoming students. Priya is immensely thankful for all the experiences and opportunities she has had at Western, and she is eager to use the knowledge she has gained in her next degree in either Law School in Toronto or Medical School in Calgary. 

Priya Khalsa received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 14, 2015.  


Sienna Jae Taylor

Choosing the Not-for-Profit Management Program through Western Continuing studies was the best decision Sienna made.  While considering additional education beyond her Western BA, Sienna discovered the program, and she knew it was perfect for her.  She always wanted to work in the not-for-profit sector, and found that the program offered such a range of classes that she knew she would be equipped with a variety of valuable skills. 

Sienna completed an Honors Specialization in Anthropology and a Major in Sociology in 2013 with the Gold Medal for Anthropology.   Her main focus throughout her undergraduate studies was cultural diversity and social inequality.  Sienna chose to pursue her education after her BA because she loves learning.   She loves being in an environment where people are thinking critically about the world and sharing ideas.  

Sienna speaks very highly of her Continuing Studies experience.  She describes it as well-rounded and practical. There is a theoretical aspect to each subject with many opportunities to actually apply what is learned in a practical way.   This program has also allowed Sienna to break out of her comfort zone and appreciate working and learning in a team environment.   She values the many opportunities to network and create connections in the city. Sienna has learned so much about herself as an individual and as a part of a team through this program, and it has really contributed to her learning experience. 

For Sienna,  this learning experience was not just a means to an end -- it has not been just about getting a job but rather about opening her eyes to an entirely new world, a new way of working, learning and living. This program has already opened so many doors for her, and her hope is that her education will help her to pursue a life of purpose where she can work to create change in her community for the people that need it most. Sienna is currently doing her practicum at the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, and she would like to continue working with organizations that focus on meaningful community development efforts in the future. With the confidence she has gained in her skills and knowledge, we know she will be successful in doing so!

Sienna Jae Taylor received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 8, 2014.  


Paul Marques

Before beginning his journey into full-time university studies as a 32 year old husband and father, Paul had a decade long career as a licensed Tool & Die Maker. In 2005, while employed in his trade at a major auto parts company, he was involved in a horrific work place accident which nearly took his life and left him with many serious injuries. The next three years of Paul’s life were devoted to a series of 12 surgeries and daily physiotherapy. During this time, he never stopped working to strengthen and heal his body, but it became evident very quickly that he would be left disabled for the rest of his life.

The accident instantly changed Paul’s life. He struggled to adjust to his physical situation. He was very depressed that he was unable to do things that most of us take for granted. Adding to the pressure, Paul could not return to his vocation. With a new baby at home, he was terrified that he would be unable to provide for his new family.  Given the situation, he decided that the best decision he could make would be to pursue education.  The journey began in earnest as he obtained the needed high school math credits before he was allowed entry as a part-time mature student at King’s University College.  After a successful part-time experience, he began studies as a full-time Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies student the next September.

Attending university for the first time is a daunting experience for anyone, but entering as a mature student had its own set of challenges and obstacles.   Paul sacrificed time with his family and had to learn to put household duties on hold as he juggled a heavy course load and busy family life. 

From the moment he stepped into his very first class, Paul had to adjust.  He stood out not only because of his age, but also because of his life and work experiences.    He loved his professors and enjoyed going to each and every class.  Everyone at King’s knew Paul, but very few knew his story.  His hard work and faithful studying paid off. He was accepted into the Honors Business Administration program at the Ivey Business School. 

Paul continued to enjoy the same popularity and joy of learning during his time at Ivey. He graduated on the Dean’s list and was voted by his peers as their class valedictorian.  This achievement demonstrates the value that a mature student’s diversity of experience can bring to all students in the classroom, as well as the profound impact that education can have on the life of a mature student, and the lives of those who surround them.  

For the Marques family, it has been a bumpy ride, but from the very beginning, it has been a ride with purpose.  Paul enjoyed his years at Western immensely and learned what he needed to re-direct his life and make his story a successful one. Western and Paul’s family is very proud of his determination, enthusiasm and perseverance.  Paul is currently working towards his CA-CPA designation at KPMG LLP’s London office. He misses the classroom very much, and hopes to return in a teaching role after completing his designation.

Paul Marques received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 8, 2014. Read Paul's speech here.


Ahmed Al-Rubaye

Ahmed demonstrates his interest in personal growth, development and continued learning.  Ahmed is a humble man who simply wants to do all he can to be his best self.  He spent countless hours learning about all of the opportunities that Western had to offer, and actively participated in events, activities and exercises to sharpen the skill sets that he knew would be increasingly important for him moving forward.  Simply put, Ahmed never turned his back on a chance to better himself.

Ahmed has demonstrated in more than a few ways his commitment to continued learning.  Ahmed seems to take almost everything he does to the next level.  When he was looking for feedback and resources to build a resume, he researched his industry, he 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 as well.  On top of completing his degree, Ahmed 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.  Among many other successful students, Ahmed was admitted into the internship program and competed for one of a few positions available in the program.  Not surprisingly, he secured a position and spent 8 months working and gaining invaluable experience. 

Ahmed was not only juggling his academic commitments but he was juggling an entire life outside of Western.  Ahmed announced with probably more pride than we’ve ever seen that he was going to be a father.  Ahmed and his wife welcomed their first beautiful baby girl very prematurely last summer.  For Ahmed and his wife, this joyous occasion had to be stressful, and as summer turned into the start of a new academic year for Ahmed, he and his wife were still watching and caring for their baby girl from 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 you are lucky, interviews.  Ahmed’s dedication, commitment and perseverance served him well. The day he was offered the job he hoped for was the day he and his wife were finally able to bring home their baby girl. 

Ahmed’s story is a happy one; it has a beautiful conclusion with such hope and an open ending.  Ahmed serves as an example of a person who pushed himself to continue to grow, stretch and learn.  For anyone who is considering furthering their education as an adult and is not sure, they should look to Ahmed as an extraordinary example of what can be gained.

Ahmed Al-Rubaye received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 8, 2014.


Ann Teve

Ann, now retired after a 28 year career in business, has returned to Western as an undergraduate in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research. She holds two prior degrees, a BA (Econ) ’78 and an MBA ’82 from Ivey. Ann has been an employee, executive and entrepreneur, nationally and internationally. “For me, the point of business was the people,” Ann explained of the apparent shift of academic interest, “and now I have the opportunity to apply my efforts directly to the benefit of others.” Ann is passionate about learning and especially supportive of a liberal arts education. “Applied knowledge like Economics or Business Studies might make you a better employee,” she observed, “but the liberal arts makes you a better person.” “The former might get you a better job,” she opined with a smile, “but the latter will most certainly get you a better life.”

Opinions aside, Ann is a fount of inspiration born of rich, diverse experiences—salutary and sad. “University,” she delights in sharing, “should be a time of rightful self-indulgence that awakens all your potential and reveals the munificence of life. Every class and conversation, every essay and exam, every campus moment—social or academic—should feed your apprehension of life, of who you are and who you can become.” Although dealt some of life’s toughest challenges, Ann retains an unabiding optimism, and youthful spirit. Ann engages easily and sincerely in conversation with everyone she meets and gives generously of her time. Knitting her creative, quick and sometimes quirky thinking with a wealth of experience Ann can find hidden potential in the most uncertain undergraduate and paint a path to success and happiness. “The very education I received here,” Ann confided, “has granted me the opportunity to return, not only for my own pleasure, but to share in and, in what ways I can, enrich the experiences of a younger generation. Beyond what they teach me and what I learn in my studies, if I can be a conduit of information and insight about all of the amazing opportunities that lie beyond university, if I can mentor in navigating the business world to realize ambitions, if I can imbue self-confidence and optimism, and reveal the exceptional in each student and affirm their self-worth, then it is an even greater privilege and joy to be a mature student.”

Ann Teve received the SAGE Student of the Year Award for her support of SAGE, the Society for Mature Students at the annual Excellence in Leadership Awards presented by the The Student Success Centre on April 2, 2014.  SAGE—the acronym stands for Students Aged Gracefully through Experience—embodies both the wisdom of experience mature students bring to Western and the flavour their contribution adds to the academic experience of all.  


Shawn Johnston

Shawn Johnston is an Ojibway from Couchiching First Nations and is currently in his 4th year in the Bachelor of Social Work (Honors) program at King’s University College. 

Shawn is passionate about the reason he is studying social work at Western.  There is a calling for more Indigenous people in the field of Social Work because many First Nations communities are plagued with crime, poverty, and addictions.  These results stem from issues such as lack of drinking water, unsanitary schools, and overcrowded houses, and these issues must be addressed through awareness, advocating, and educating people.  Shawn’s goal is to work in the field of addictions to help with problems he is all too familiar with.

Shawn lives his dedication to his mission not only in the classroom but through volunteering on campus.  Shawn was able to become friends with other students he met at Indigenous Services (IS) and help with events in the Centre such as monthly lunches, guest speakers, and the Track & Field Day.  Shawn has also been involved in volunteering with the First Nations Student Association (FNSA), the Social Work Student Action Committee, and most recently the Idle No More movement.

Shawn also is active by volunteering his time through public speaking. Shawn has been invited to speak in numerous classrooms, at social events, and conferences across Canada.  He shares his personal story of how he survived growing up with racism, homophobia, and his battle with addiction. Sharing his story allows him to provide a message of hope and help raise awareness on these issues.

Shawn feels honoured to be a part of the limited enrollment Bachelor of Social Work (Honors) program at King’s University College.  He wants to inspire others by letting others know that with determination they can also reach their goals.  His own personal experience with addiction, the opportunities to share his story, and the field placements have all allowed him to develop skills that will prove to be beneficial when he works in the field of addictions. Shawn wants to give back what has been given to him. Hope.

Shawn Johnston received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 9, 2013. 


Carol Deagle

Carol Deagle is a student at Western University's Huron University College’s Global Development Studies.  Carol’s longer term goal is to obtain a Master's Degree in Global Development Studies which would equip her to pursue a career at the United Nations where she would be more involved in impacting positive change in people's lives on an international scale.   In 2012, Carol graduated from King’s University College with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology. 

Twenty years ago, Carol began her journey as a mature student and overcame many challenges.  Some of the obstacles Carol overcame include working full time while trying to rebound from a failed marriage which resulted in successfully raising three young children solely on her own.  Additionally, she was very much involved in volunteering at several organizations throughout the London community, such as the Congress of Black Women where she is currently the Correspondence Secretary on the Executive Board.  She was also involved as a Committee member in the Building Community Leadership Capacity Project.  Additionally, Carol was instrumental in assisting to organize the Single Women in Motherhood (S.W.I.M.) Training Program.  This was done along with a friend and current Executive Director, Annmarie Ricketts, because they saw that there was a need in the London community to empower single women to improve their lives.  

Carol strongly supports university education because she has personally experienced the benefits that it provides in an individual's life.  Carol’s academic pursuits have resulted in being gainfully employed for over twenty three years as a Federal Public Servant at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.  Carol believes in the continuous learning culture, and she makes every effort to instill the value of education in the lives of her family and friends.  

Carol Deagle received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 9, 2013. 


Gordon Rogerson

Every year more than 3000 students enroll in courses at Western Continuing Studies for professional development and personal enrichment. Continuing Studies recognizes that every one of those students have chosen their courses to learn new skills and knowledge and that the decision to return to the classroom can be life changing. Gord Rogerson exemplifies the true qualities of a lifelong learner.

In fall 2011, Gord enrolled in Western Project Management. The program is comprised of four 12-week courses, which are accredited by the Project Management Institute. The courses are demanding and involve weekly classes, assignments, team projects, tests, exams, and a lot of time, especially combined with a full time job. In 2012, Gord not only completed the certificate, he wrote the exam and earned the Certified Associate in Project Management credentials from the Project Management Institute. Project management credentials are recognized globally and considered one of the most in-demand job credentials in Canada!

This year, Gord enrolled in the Western Certificate in Management, an eight-course program. This certificate is accredited by the Canadian Institute of Management.

Gord, a Computer Specialist at Western’s Retail services says:  “This course is going to prove to be a wonderful asset for me to bring to Western Retail Services…  it really got the learning spark in my brain blazing away again. Now I'm just trying to decide what path to take... Do I continue on and get the Professional Certification in Project Management from Western by taking the 3 supplementary courses from the CIM stream? Do I work towards the Certificate in Leadership to augment the PM skills I'm developing now? I'm already looking at another certification to take while we're in between classes this summer. I also contacted Royal Roads about some long term goals. What's that quote...’It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly.’  Anyway... Thank you to everyone who worked hard to get these programs advanced funded. These are wonderful opportunities for Westerners to grow.”

Gord Rogerson received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 9, 2013. 


Margaret Irwin Kobes

After a 35-year hiatus, Margaret returned to the classroom at Huron University College seeking to obtain a master's degree in Theological Studies.  When Margaret was awarded the Archbishop Michael Peers Prize in Biblical Languages for the highest mark in either Hebrew and/or Greek, she knew that being a 'non-traditionally aged' student did not need to hold her back.   Her academic achievement has been maintained at a high level throughout all her course work.

Two of Margaret’s independent study accomplishments stand out.  She completed an Independent Study on a Latin medieval manuscript known as 'The Millennium Psalter' from King’s University College Rare Book Collection.  This was the first time a 'hands-on' study of this rare manuscript had been made, and Margaret was able to provide previously unknown information about this text.  To reach this goal, Margaret had to understand Latin and Latin abbreviations, so she completed her own crash course to brush up what she studied in the 1960s.

Margaret’s  Independent Study, 'The Shared Histories of Huron University College and the Church of St. John the Evangelist, London,' completed last term, was submitted and accepted for the Huron University College 150th Anniversary Conference, 'The House That Isaac Built.'

Margaret is quick to acknowledge the understanding, encouragement and support that she has received from the Faculty of Theology, especially Dr. Gary Badcock who encouraged her to begin this journey. The Student Success Centre at Western University and the SAGE Society for Mature Students have played significant roles in her achievement.  Soon to be age 75, Margaret expects to complete her degree in 2014.

Margaret Irwin Kobes received the “SAGE Student of the Year” award for her support of the SAGE Society for Mature Students at the Excellence in Leadership Awards, The Student Success Centre, March 26, 2013.


Carly Ekstein

When considering a nominee for Continuing Studies’ LCAE Adult Learner Award, Carly Ekstein immediately came to mind. Carly’s passion for learning was evident as she entered the inaugural year of the post-degree Diploma in Marketing; not only was she part of the first cohort of the program, she stepped up as a leader and volunteered to be a Student Ambassador, another new initiative at Continuing Studies. Carly excelled both in the classroom and beyond, and always with a bright smile. Academically, Carly scored consistently at the top of her class, and in speaking to her instructors, many remarked that she always aspired to improve on her performance. As an Ambassador, Carly documented her learning journey on our post-degree blog and connected with prospective students, lending her authentic voice to our recruitment efforts. Even as she completed her studies, Carly’s thirst for knowledge could not be quenched. She enrolled in two professional development courses while working full-time during the practicum component of her diploma, and I am confident that when she graduates this June, Carly will have taken yet another step along her lifelong learning path.
Carly Ekstein received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 10, 2012.


Visar Berisha

Visar Berisha arrived in Canada at the age of 15 in 1999 as a war refugee from Kosovo.  He found school in Canada to be very challenging, in part because it coincided with the transition to a new country.  Visar lacked the advantages of Canadian students -- ease with the language and a background of strong educational standards.  Visar graduated from high school but not with the results that he had hoped for.  As a result, he wasn’t competitive to get into university.   By 2008, he graduated from Trios College as a Pharmacy Technician and began to work in the field.  From this work experience, he learned that he wanted to go to university to become an actual Pharmacist, but he hadn’t been competitive to enter university after high school.  He went to a community college to build a foundation that he could use as a stepping stone to get into university, and managed to get straight A's.  At the same time, his wife was pregnant and gave birth during midterms to their now 2 year old son.  He continued working on the side to pay for school and managed to do so without borrowing a single penny.  He applied to Western, and got accepted for the Biological and Medical Sciences program.  Visar says that opening Western’s acceptance letter was one of the best feelings he’s had, especially when he had previously thought he would never be eligible for university.  Now he looks forward to applying for pharmacy school in a year and steps closer to his dream. Visar wants his story to be an inspiration to anyone who may be thinking that returning to school is too late and not possible.  He would say that it's not too late and it is very much possible!
Visar Berisha received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 10, 2012. Visar has completed his first year at Western in the Faculty of Science.


Chuck Bourgeois

In the fall of 1969, Chuck Bourgeois, began his University studies at Western.   He was happily married to Dorothy, and together they were raising five girls between the ages of one and eight.   Chuck was working full-time and life was very busy.  With tuition increasing and consumed with the business of raising a family, Chuck had to make some personal sacrifices, and in 1976, he decided to place his university studies on the back burner – at least for the time being.

In the fall of 2005, at the age of 69, still happily married and having successfully raised those five girls, Chuck decided, in retirement no less, to return to Western to finish his degree.  Chuck’s daughter Kelly had decided to do a degree herself as a mature student, and she encouraged her father to complete his own degree.

Peter Krats, who taught Chuck in several History courses said:  “I think students like Chuck exemplify adult learning.  Chuck was always interested (but not close minded) about how what he recalled was different from the course material.   In addition, I found that the younger students were interested in his perspective; better yet, Chuck was interested in theirs.  Chuck’s commitment to and interest in learning exemplifies the "adult" learners that I've had over the years.  Adults add new perspectives to the classroom; keep the instructor "on their toes" (always a good thing).  All in all, adults are always a gift to the instructor and their classmates.”

In every course he has taken, Chuck has learned new things.  Like his current course on the American Presidency, Chuck says it is like a modern day history lesson as the class watches what is happening with the current Presidential race.  Chuck has enjoyed being in class with younger students, and through their eyes, feels he is in better touch with what is going in the world.

We congratulate Charles Bourgeois, for his perseverance as he heads into the home stretch on his Bachelor’s degree, forty three years after beginning his studies and seventy five years young.
Charles Bourgeois received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 10, 2012. Charles is completing a Bachelor of Arts degree which he began in 1969. 


Praval Vatsya

Deciding what to be when he “grows up” has not come easily for Praval. As someone with many diverse interests, as well as the tendency to become fascinated with anything and everything, Praval has struggled with finding a place and program which suits him. Having attended two high schools, five universities and one college in addition to interning at a sixth university in the United States, his academic pattern has been turbulent, uncertain and inconsistent.

Returning to university as a mature student, with the benefit of unique experiences lived and a renewed sense of appreciation for higher education, Praval has found a home that “fits” here at Western studying business and political science in the Faculty of Social Science. Praval welcomes the opportunity to bring his experiences into the classroom and adding to the diversity of his academic environment. He especially enjoys sharing, listening and offering guidance to his fellow classmates in the hopes that others can find a good fit in their lives.

Praval Vatsya was named the “SAGE” Student of the Year at the Excellence in Leadership Awards Ceremony, Student Success Centre, March 29, 2012, for his contributions to our community for mature students.


Karen Ann Bridge

If personal self-fulfillment is defined as ‘carrying to fruition one’s deepest desires or one’s worthiest capacities’, then engaging in a University education has awarded me this. The outcomes relating to this ‘self-fulfillment’ have proven to have a domino effect; enhancing my critical thinking and communication skills, my confidence, and putting into perspective what is important in life.

Approximately 10 yrs ago I realized I had reached the limits of learning and experience in dentistry as a dental hygienist. Without any prior experience with a computer, I enrolled in on-line University courses and was hooked on learning.  To the surprise and admiration of family and friends, I then enrolled in high school for one year, to become familiar again with science basics such as chemistry, physics and yes, calculus.

Since then, I achieved an Honour’s Science degree, will be completing my Master’s degree this summer and have been accepted to the Schulich Dental Clinician-Scientist program for four more years of study in dentistry. Supportive family, friends and colleagues during this journey of study, greatly contributed to my success.

The mature student support, mentoring program and guidance counsellors at Western provided exceptional guidance during my journey of higher education.  My advice to adults enrolling in University for the first time; take a course or two to get a taste of university learning, for once you gotten a taste for learning, you’re going to want more.

In addition, I wanted to say how fulfilling it has been to work with young adult students, sharing each other’s strengths and learning to assist each other to overcome the challenges of a very competitive environment. The personal sacrifices involving family, finances and fatigue, have been numerous.  The benefits and self-fulfilling rewards have been immense.  Thanks to all who have journeyed with me, through thick and thin

Karen Ann Bridge received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2011.  Karen Ann completed an Honor’s Science degree at Western, will be completing a Master’s degree this summer, and has been accepted to the Schulich Dental Clinician-Scientist program for four more years of study in dentistry.


Steve Duncan

I found my university experience both challenging and rewarding: challenging in manipulating a time schedule that included stay-at-home dad and part-time work, and entering a system that is still geared towards educating those directly from high school.  However, attending university later in life has been highly rewarding; something I would have never appreciated had I of attended at a younger age. 

Steve Duncan received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2011.  Steve graduates with distinction with a Master of Theological Studies in June. 


Dawn Mackay

My experiences at Western have taught me that a person never stops growing.  There are so many opportunities in the world!  There are great people here-- in the classrooms and in the Student Success Centre--who are incredibly knowledgeable.  They never cease to amaze me, never tire of helping me, and everyone around me, to achieve our goals.  I have learned how to study, to make the most of my time and to think outside the box.  I have made fantastic friends that will be with me throughout the rest of my journey in pursuit of my degree and throughout my life, when I will live my dream.

Dawn Mackay was named the “SAGE” Student of the Year at the Excellence in Leadership Awards Ceremony, Student Success Centre, March 30, 2011, for her contributions to our community for mature students.


Mary Lee Felder

Mary Lee’s academic journey started almost 25 years ago while in the early years of her motherhood. After her initial course, she was the first recipient of the Mature Student Award for perseverance, acknowledging the student who, in spite of challenges, still achieves a good academic standing. Mary Lee was faced with a difficult pregnancy of her second child, but in spite of it all she was able to complete her course and achieved a high mark.

For personal reasons, Mary Lee chose to put her schooling on hold as she raised her children. Once they were more independent, and she had secured a successful marketing career for herself, Mary Lee returned to Western to pursue continuing education courses. A career change led her to the non-profit sector, and that drove her to complete her Professional Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management to improve and enhance her performance.

Mary Lee has always had a desire to assist people experiencing grief and loss. While working with unemployed clients at a job search program, she was faced, on a daily basis, with the impact that grief and loss has on people during this time of transition. This confirmed her desire to pursue studies in Grief and Bereavement. While working full-time as a Program Manager and taking evening or weekend courses, she graduated with Distinction in the Grief and Bereavement Program last fall. In addition to these certificate programs, Mary Lee is in the process of completing her Bachelor of Arts in Thanatology and hopes to graduate this summer.

Mary Lee Felder has exhibited determination, passion and high academic performance through both degree-credit studies and continuing studies at Western.

-Mary Lee Felder, Bachelor of Arts in Thanatology, received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 11, 2010


Michael Machan

Michael began his studies at Western at the age of 43 in 2008. His Honors BA in Psychology and World Religion will lead him toward his next goal of a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology. Illness robbed Michael of many years of his life. Michael believes that attending Western is a gift to start his life over. He has done well academically, and has seized opportunities to contribute not only to the Western community but the broader London community as well. Michael says: “This educational journey is the foundation of my life and nothing could be more significant in terms of contributing to any success that I will enjoy by being useful to others in the communities where I live in the future.”

-Michael T. F. Machan, an undergraduate student in Honors Psychology/World Religions, received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 11, 2010


Carole Murphy

When talking with Carole about her dreams for the future and her love of learning, it is very difficult to believe that by age, she is considered a senior citizen. As a self-proclaimed mild-mannered extrovert, Carole gets her energy from being with people, helping them, and learning from them – this energy and desire to keep serving others has lead her down a unique path of life-long learning.

Carole was a late bloomer in terms of pursuing post-secondary education. When her children left home for University, Carole decided to pursue her own further studies and graduated with a BA in Religious Studies and Psychology from Queen’s University in 1991. Two years later, she enrolled in graduate studies and successfully completed a Masters Degree in Religious Education from St. Paul University in 1997.

In September 2009, Carole enrolled in the Adler Professional Coaching Program offered at Continuing Studies at Western. Carole was excited about the opportunity for intellectual stimulation and challenge, the opportunity to meet new people and foster new friendships, to learn with purpose, and most of all to use her learning to give back and help others.

As an advocate of life-long learning, Carole considers her participation in the coaching program at Continuing Studies at Western as a privilege that will improve the quality of her life, and allow her to help improve the quality of life of others. Carole’s learning journey and her desire to benefit our community with her learning is truly inspirational!

-Carole Murphy, student in the Adler Professional Coaching Program through Continuing Studies, received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 11, 2010


Randy Nanjad

Nanjad left a career as a Client Service Manager for an experiential marketing firm, implementing campaigns for clients such as Frank’s Red Hot and The SCORE, to focus his study on the new media niche he saw emerging in the field. “I decided to return to school to redevelop my thinking and rediscover my creativity,” says Nanjad. And the Western community has been richer for Randy’s decision. Randy has discovered that the real object of education, in the words of Bishop Mandell Creighton, “is to have a man in the condition of continuing asking questions.” Randy’s experience as an adult learner has deepened his critical thinking, allowing him to constantly ask and seek answers for deeper probing questions.

Randy has made strong contributions to SAGE, our community for mature students, by facilitating and attending events that then give him an opportunity to lend his support to other mature students. We are most appreciative of Randy’s thoughtful efforts.

Randy is returning to Western in the fall of 2010 to pursue an MA in Media Studies.

-Randy Nanjad, Honors Bachelor of Arts in Media, Information and Technoculture, received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 11, 2010


Owen Thornton

The SAGE program (our community for mature students) is successful because of the dedicated upper-year mature students who contribute their time. Owen Thornton is one of those students. Owen has been very faithful in attending SAGE events, and readily shared his enthusiasm for the mature student journey. Owen recognizes how important it is when mature students come together because it facilitates sharing and support. Mature students need to know that they are not alone, and they can benefit from sharing strategies to how to manage university study along with the variety of roles that mature students usually hold.

In addition to volunteering at SAGE events, Owen volunteered whenever the voice of a current mature student is helpful.

Owen is enthusiastic about his experience at Western: “Being in the classroom learning something you have longed to study is the most gratifying thing you could ever do. People will wonder why you have returned to school. Radiating internal joy will be your answer. It will be enough to know that you have found your “self” in the process. Look. The barriers are real. I know that. Do it anyways. Leave no regrets behind.”

We were proud to see Owen graduate this spring, and we wish him well as he moves on to Wilfrid Laurier University for his Masters in Philosophy.

-Owen Thornton, B.A. (Honors) Philosophy, received the “SAGE” Student of the Year award at the Excellence in Leadership Awards, Student Success Centre, April 7, 2010, for his contributions to the SAGE Society for mature students.


Michelle Iurman

Michelle Iurman is a hard working, talented person who approaches her university studies with the skills she uses to be successful in her life as a musician, performer, and teacher.

Michelle has performed off broadway in musical theatre. She is known as the "national anthem specialist" having sung six different country's anthems at major events, and she is also known for the CD she produced "Lest we Forget; A Salute to Veterans" Michelle is studying Film and Italian Studies, and she is also considering a major in Popular Music Studies.

Michelle has faced challenges along the way. Due to illness, she had to withdraw from Western twice. During the recent exam period, Michelle lost 3 people dear to her. Last year she also lost her grandmother, whom she was very close to, the night before a huge Italian test. Her professor told her she could re-schedule the test, but she decided to write it because she knew her Grandmother would have wanted her to be strong and to continue. Not only did she do well on the test, but she got all the bonus questions too and ended up with 110%!

Prof. Paul Coates from Film Studies said of Michelle: "Michelle is an exceptionally hard-working and diligent student who is always well-prepared and deeply committed to making the most of the course. Michelle's knowledge of the texts under discussion is always impressively detailed, and she comes close to being the ideal student. She is always a leading voice during class discussions, during which she makes frequent and incisive observations that testify to a strong and personal response to the material."

Does Michelle Iurman demonstrate that lifelong learning has enhanced her life?

- Michelle Iurman, undergraduate student in Film and Italian Studies, received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2009.


Ricardo Munoz

Ricardo Munoz is over 60, and came to London as a refugee from Colombia. He is currently in the second year of the MA program in Hispanic Studies, and he has been accepted to the PhD program. Years before he joined as a student, he organized "La tertulia," a meeting of people who want to speak Spanish. The tertulia takes place every Wednesday, and people sometimes stay for as long as four hours, exchanging ideas and learning about each other, about Canada, and about Hispanic countries. It has become a well-known event in the Department of Modern Languages and Faculty of Arts and Humanities. It offers a great opportunity for undergraduate students who want to learn Spanish but also for people across the university and sometimes form the community. Ricardo has done this for years as a volunteer. See for more information.

- Ricardo Munoz-Castiblanco received an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 12, 2009


Irena Michalina Olma

"I was fortunate to have been given the exciting challenge of attending Western as a mature part-time student. With professors as mentors, colleagues and friends, great support from the Mature Student Advisor's office, and family standing by, I knew that I could complete a Bachelor's degree in Social Science. This is my graduating year at Western, and I am grateful for the intellectual stimulation and support I received. I feel privileged to be part of such a great university and to have been able to fulfill my lifelong dream."

- Irena Michalina Olma, Recipient of an Adult Learning Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 6, 2008.


Linda Davis

"Having earned a college diploma, furthering my education at university seemed a natural progression. While working full-time I have now completed my undergraduate degree through part-time studies at UWO. By demonstrating the importance of education I have inspired a zest for learning in my children and grandchildren. With curiosity as my best friend I am sure the learning will never cease. "

- Linda Davis, Recipient of an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 6, 2008 


Tammy Johnston

"Inspiration from my colleagues to pursue something for myself set me on a path of discovery. Working full-time in a career which I have always enjoyed, as well as running a household and raising a family, was already a fulfilling lifestyle. Incorporating part-time studies was at first a challenge which has turned into a passion."

- Tammy Johnston, Recipient of an Adult Learning Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 2, 2007.
Barbara Ellen White

"The fact that I could return to Western as a mature student on a part-time basis allowed me to combine family responsibilities with my academic work. During my undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Science I discovered Linguistics when taking a course in French; next year I will complete a PhD in Computational Linguistics in the Department of French Studies. Western has given me a place where I can finally combine my passion for and interest in both Arts and Science, with incredible intellectual stimulation and colleagues who have become extraordinary friends."

- Barbara Ellen White, Recipient of an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 2, 2007

Read the nomination submitted on behalf of Barbara here: Nomination of Barbara White (pdf).


Athena Economopoulos

"Studying at Western as a part-time mature student was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have received an excellent education in my areas of interest and been challenged in ways that have not only allowed me to explore and learn so much more about myself, my capabilities, and my potential but also increased my confidence. My experiences with professors, counselors, advisors, and other students (both young and mature) have also been wonderful and enriching-all have given freely to me of their support, encouragement, and motivation. Enrolling at Western has been a wonderful adventure and something I will always treasure."

- Athena Economopoulos, Recipient of an Adult Learning Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 3, 2006


Dawn Davis

"What an amazing adventure I've had over the last four years. I've always wanted to teach, and even though that dream was partially realized through my four children, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in this field. At 40, you can imagine that I was certainly a bit apprehensive to plunge into a full course load right from the start, but the support that is available at Western from the various student services to my individual professors, has been an important factor in my success. I've not only fulfilled the requirements to pursue a teaching career, but I've been able to be part of a dynamic community that will always be dear to my heart."

- Dawn Davis, Recipient of an Adult Learner Award from the London Council for Adult Education on May 3, 2006