Beth (Heslop) Payne (BA 1970)

Even in its earlier days, the University of Waterloo was well-known for exploration and innovation, and Beth (Heslop) Payne remembers choosing uWaterloo for that very reason. Although she knew that she wanted to study the more traditional areas of English and Philosophy, uWaterloo’s good reputation in the newer fields of Computer Science and Psychology also attracted her interest. It wasn’t until the end of first year that Beth decided English would be one of her majors.

As Beth continued her studies, she met professors in English who inspired her and helped to develop her interests. Professor McRae, who taught Beth a course in Canadian Literature, stands out in her memory “for his fine intellect and dashing manner.” Thanks to Dr. McRae, Beth developed a strong interest in Canadian Literature that was nurtured further by Canadian poets who visited the uWaterloo campus: Irving Layton and Earle Birney. Beth also remembers Dr. Paul Beam, who taught her a course in Victorian Literature, as “the most enthusiastic facilitator” of her learning. The course was co-taught by Professor Beam and a professor from the faculty of History, with a strong focus on literature as social history. After graduating, much of Beth’s work involved teaching. The idea that literature could both reflect and influence social circumstances regularly popped up as a theme in her own instruction.

After completing her studies at uWaterloo, Beth combined her interests in English and Psychology to train as an English teacher and guidance counsellor, working in both fields for a combined total of seven years in Toronto and Orillia. Love took Beth overseas to the UK, where she taught in Harrogate for a few years before moving again with her husband, first to Yemen and then to Vanuatu. She later returned to England, living both in Dorset and Worcestershire, where she continued teaching while raising two sons. Most recently, Beth worked as the Head of Psychology at a comprehensive school in Malvern, an urban area in Worcestershire. She has since retired, and has upcoming plans to travel with her husband and a group of Canadian friends to Corsica.

From keeping in touch with her own students and watching her sons pursue further education and careers, Beth muses that the lessons people take from university are varied, and that university may not be for everyone. For Beth personally, her experience as an English student and her time at the University of Waterloo were invaluable for helping her to learn and to grow. “For me, [university] was a much sought after independence, and a very rich learning experience through interactions with fellow students and lecturers. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and I am very pleased that I chose Waterloo.”

Nancy Silcox (BA 1974, MA 1976)

Nancy SilcoxNancy Silcox was inspired by the unlikely career path of her former student to write a book profiling people who chose unusual paths to achieve personal and professional success. The resulting publication, Roads of the Heart, profiles the lives of 50 exceptional people, with ties to Waterloo Region, who took risks to find happiness in their lives.

Silcox is a counsellor in the Special Needs Department at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), and has twenty years experience as a high school teacher, eight years writing an education column for the Kitchener Waterloo Record in addition to publishing freelance articles. Her writing experience and local contacts gave Silcox the momentum to develop her idea into a reality in the form of Roads of the Heart.

A former student at Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in Baden, Ontario was Silcox's inspiration to write Roads of the Heart. He was headed to law school after he finished a degree in history but in the spring of 1999, Silcox read an article on him in the Kitchener Waterloo Record. He had done a startling career change and was now one of Canada's top standup comics. She became fascinated with people who had forsaken the well trodden path in life to head off into careers that were unusual and even risky.

Of the fifty lives profiled in Roads of the Heart, all had taken the 'road less travelled' in their professional or personal lives, were risk takers, were born, had lived or currently resided in Waterloo Region and were representative of diverse areas in science, arts, business, humanities and entertainment. Organizing interviews with fifty people living all over the world proved a great challenge and the interviewing process took over two years to complete.

Her biggest challenge was arranging to interview former Waterloo professor and wolf researcher Professor John Theberge, whom she was determined to have included in her book. When she contacted him and invited him to participate, he had just moved from Ontario to British Columbia. With some planning, she was eventually able to arrange an interview in Calgary when he was visiting his daughter Jenny. Jenny Theberge is a biologist and a Waterloo alumnus who is also profiled in the book. Silcox was able to interview them together.

Meeting fifty fascinating people and being able to share their stories in this format is a personal success for Silcox. In particular, developing a friendship with Edna Staebler, a Mennonite cookbook guru was a wonderful outcome of
the process.

Roads of the Heart profiles nine University of Waterloo alumni including Dale Brubacher-Cressman, Academy and Emmy award winner; Jen Theberge, bear biologist; John Theberge, wolf researcher and former Waterloo faculty member; Marie and Greg Voisin, owner M&M Meats; Shirley Lichti, owner Marketing Magic and WLU faculty member; Alfred Kunz, former University of Waterloo director of music; Larry Anstett, art gallery and deer sanctuary owner and Silcox herself.

The first printing sold out in 3 months but copies are available at Kitchener Waterloo booksellers such as Chapters, Wordsworth Books and the uWaterlooaterloo and Laurier Bookstores.

Tim Westhead (MA 1971)

Tim WestheadIn 2004, uWaterloo English alumnus Tim Westhead received uWaterloo’s prestigious Faculty of Arts Alumni Achievement Award. He describes winning this award as a “terrific honour.” The award recognizes Tim for his contributions to his profession, community, and public service. His two proudest achievements, however, are his children, Jessica and Cameron.

     Tim has pursued a successful part-time career as a motivational speaker for a number of years, but has recently made it fulltime since his retirement from teaching. Just last year he was a feature speaker at 70 shows across Canada and the United States. The majority of Tim’s engagements focus on health and wellness; his most popular presentation is entitled “Survive & Thrive with Humour.”

     A favourite English class of Tim’s at Waterloo was the Anglo Saxon course taught by Dr. Doug Letson at St. Jerome’s. After finishing his BA at Waterloo Lutheran (now Wilfrid Laurier University), he took Dr. Letson’s course and several others in his qualifying year to upgrade from a general to an honours degree before deciding to pursue an MA at Waterloo. Dr. Letson “singlehandedly pushed me on for grad work,” says Tim, who describes this professor as a great teacher and role model. Another professor Tim greatly admired was Dr. Gordon Slethaug. He took two of Dr. Slethaug’s graduate courses before asking him to be the second reader on his thesis in 1970. Like Dr. Letson, Dr. Slethaug was very influential in Tim’s academic career as a “very kind, thoughtful, organized, thorough, and scholarly” representative of the profession.

     One of Tim’s fondest memories from uWaterloo is of living with five to six other students in an old farmhouse north of campus, on what is now Bearinger Road. “We could play our music and have parties with no neighbours to bother,” Tim recalls. Their landlord, Dr. Don Grierson, was a professor of Civil Engineering at the time and is remembered as a major influence on all of the tenants, even though none of them were from Engineering.

     In the Spring term of 1971, Tim completed his Master’s degree and moved to Toronto, where he enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Toronto. In 1972, he began his career as a teacher by taking on his first full-time job in Scarborough at Stephen Leacock Collegiate. He spent nearly 30 years of teaching there, 18 of them as the Head of the English Department. Tim “really enjoyed his students, his department, and the work, but wasn’t too fond of the commute” from his home in Whitby, and retired from the Toronto District School Board in June 2002. In 2003 he received the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association award for “outstanding contribution to education throughout Ontario,” and was acknowledged by former student Mike Myers (aka “Austin Powers” and “Shrek”) at Myers’ induction at Canada’s Walk of Fame. Earlier in 2000 Tim began teaching at the post-secondary level and took at position with the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. As an instructor, he taught the summer Honour Specialist course for upgrading English teachers for 10 years before retiring and transitioning to his post-retirement speaking career.

To read more about Tim, you can visit his website: www.timwesthead.com

Mary Bales (MA 1972, MPhil 1973)

Photograph of Mary Bales.Born and raised in Lowell, Indiana, Mary Bales pursued undergraduate studies in science and engineering at Purdue University, and English and technical writing at New Mexico State University (BA 1969). She worked in the research laboratories for Chemagro in Kansas City before moving to Ontario. Mary did graduate studies in English at the University of Waterloo (MA 1972 and MPhil 1973), with emphasis on early Renaissance poetry. She continued her graduate studies at the University of Toronto and the Medieval Institute before commencing a career in real estate in 1974.

Mary enjoyed a successful real estate career with Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty, where she focused on residential sales, new house design, condominium development, and marketing. She was recognized annually for being one of the “outstanding agents” nationally, and in some years as being the “top agent” for Coldwell Banker. She also received the Coldwell Banker national award for humanitarian service. In addition to this accomplishment, she managed to provide attentive, personalized service to literally hundreds of individuals and families—many of them uWaterloo employees.

Countless students, faculty, and staff members here at Waterloo, my husband and I among them, have stories of how Mary found the ‘perfect place’ for them to live,

says Barbara Bulman-Fleming, an associate professor in Psychology.

Mary had an impressive record of volunteer activities in the Kitchener-Waterloo community. She was a committed supporter and volunteer of the local YWCA, serving on its board from 1993 to 2001 and in many other capacities, including chair of the Freedom Fund Campaign, which raised nearly a million dollars for the organization; also as a member of the Executive Committee, chair of the Resource Development Coordinating Committee, and vice-president. She was a leader in fundraising activities for the United Way, chairing their “Leadership Giving” Committee, and its Endowment Fund Committee, as well as serving on its board of directors. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of Grand River Hospital (1998 - 2001), where she chaired the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, and she spearheaded the creation of the Heartwood Place Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing “safe, affordable, and adequate housing” in downtown Kitchener. She did work for Mary's Place, a shelter for abused women, and supported Habitat for Humanity. She received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada in 2006 for her work in affordable housing.

Mary’s uWaterloo involvement was extensive. In the early 1990s she was a member of the National Alumni Council and chaired its Program Committee. She also served as a member of the Board of Governors for two terms, 1994 - 1997 and 1997 - 2000. During her time on the board, she served on the Board Executive, Senior Officers’ Evaluation and Compensation Committee, and Building and Properties Committee. She also served on the 1999 Presidential Nominating Committee and on one of the working groups of the Commission on Institutional Planning. She was  the chair of the Arts Committee for the Waterloo Fifth Decade campaign, and won the Faculty of Arts Alumni Achievement Award in 2002. Mary has been a solid financial supporter of the Faculty of Arts since 1984, and she personally donated $100,000 to the University of Waterloo to endow a scholarship for grad students. The University awarded her an honorary doctorate of laws in 2010. Mary passed away on December 12, 2014.

Bill Davey (BA 1969, MA 1972)

The University of Waterloo contributed greatly to the formation of Doctor Bill Davey’s career, providing him with not only the skills but also the support he needed to thrive in academia.

     Initially, he chose Waterloo for the major difference he saw between it and other universities.Because uWaterloo was a new university, its classes were smaller and more personal. Students and faculty mingled in an environment of cooperation, which is something most other universities could not provide at the time. Once he began pursuing a Master’s degree, Bill became interested in working with Dr. Laurence Cummings, who was first at St. Jerome’s and later with the School of Architecture. His work with Dr. Cummings allowed him to learn about editing, as this was a research interest of Dr. Cummings.  They worked on a sixteenth-century poetic miscellany as an MA thesis.

     Bill enjoyed all of his classes at uWaterloo, but he did have a few favourite professors. Dr. Hibbard, who taught Shakespeare and Jacobean drama, had an “amazing grasp” of the plays and poetry of the period; Dr. Gordon Slethaug, a professor of American literature, who was a great lecturer and gave his students a series of interactive exercises to complete in addition to the usual seminars and papers; Dr. Cummings, an inspiring teacher,who requiredhisstudents toengage with each other’s work (“student A was a responder to student B’s paper, and student B was a responder to student C’s paper, and so on”); Dr. Roman Dubinski, who specialized in seventeenth-century poetry and prose; and Dr. Neil Hultin, who taught a great course on heroic literature andBeowulf and encouraged students to write outside of their comfort zones. All of these professors helped develop Bill’s skill as a researcher and teacher, and he remembers them as being supportive and well qualified.

     He also remembers the camaraderie among the graduate students during his time here, recalling that all the MAs shared an office in which they could interact even if they did not have classes together. Later, Bill was lucky enough to be assigned an office that he shared with just one other student; this allowed him to work on his thesis in a relatively quiet place.

     After earning his MA, Bill completed a Ph.D. in medieval literature at the University of Ottawa. Academic positions were scarce at the time, but after a few years of part-time and sessional teaching, he received a tenure-track position at Cape Breton University, where he worked for twenty-three years before retiring in June of 2009. Although he taught a variety of courses, he most enjoyed teaching the medieval classes and the history of the English Language.

     Today, Bill and his wife Heather live in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where he continues to work as a research associate at the university. Currently he is finishing a co-edited dictionary of Cape Breton English, similar to those published by the University of Toronto Press for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island variants of the English language.

Judy Gibson (BA 1972)

For Judy Gibson, balancing academic interests and family has always been a challenge. She was inspired by her mother, widowed at the age of 26, who raised her two small daughters single handedly and returned to graduate school in middle age. She became an assistant professor of marine biology at McGill. Both daughters look to her as their idol.

     Judy entered uWaterloo in 1970 to complete coursework for her degree at McGill, which was incomplete due to an illness during her final semester in 1963. Judy began the English MA program in the fall of 1972, pleased that Professor Walter Martin had agreed to be her thesis supervisor. They agreed that Judy would do a thesis on "Myth and Symbol in Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim, and other works set in the Malay Archipelago." In her final semester of coursework for her MA, Judy owed a final essay in each of four graduate courses, having interrupted her studies to type her husband's doctoral thesis. She had completed the course on Bibliography and Indexing (which proved a useful preparation for her later editing work). In 1973 Judy moved with her family to Massachusetts, intending to resume her studies at a later date.

     She kept in touch with Professor Martin for a number of years, and he encouraged her research on "The Identity of the Heads on Stakes", a new interpretation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Judy gave a colloquium presentation on the subject in February 1992 at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, where she and her family moved in 1978. She didn't resume her graduate studies following the birth of her second child in 1975 and responsibilities towards elderly family members as their caregiver.

     Judy fondly remembers the intelligence, kindness, humour, and accessibility of uWaterloo professors. She enjoyed them all. She writes that Dr. Jack Gray's enthusiasm inspired her to become a much better student, and Professor Martin's guidance encouraged her to become a careful researcher.

     In 1978 the Gibson family moved to St. John's, Newfoundland with Caroline, 14, and Mary Jane, 3 1/2, who was born in the US. When Mary Jane started school, Judy began to edit for a local publishing company in St. John's, drawing on her experience as a freelance editor since the 1960's.

     She has written and co-authored four books. In 1989 she was hired as a sessional instructor by the Faculty of English at Memorial University for several semesters. Concerning her colloquium presentation on Conrad in 1992 Judy says ruefully, "Dr. George Storey at MUN, and Professor Martin at uWaterloo, encouraged me to publish it, but as happened so many times in my academic life, I had to put it on hold!"

     In 1998, Judy retired from freelance editing to become a full-time independent scholar. She went to England to research the identity of the anonymous author of two Romantic Period novels, working at the British Library, Dr. Williams's Library, the Catholic Library near Euston, and the Public Records Office. Her search was successful and she delivered a colloquium presentation on her work to faculty members at Memorial University in April, 2002. She considers this work her 'magnum opus' and hopes to publish it, having been encouraged to do so in London when she visited a number of publishers.

     Judy hopes to be a kidney donor for her husband, who is presently on dialysis. If possible, she intends to publish her Conrad paper and a book on her search for the author of Truth and Elizabeth Evanshaw in the nearfuture.

Peter McLaren (BA 1972)

Peter McLarenDr. Peter McLaren , an English degree gave him the foundation on which he built his professorial career. He is currently a professor of Urban Education in The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I work in the area of social justice education, have published a lot on the topic of critical pedagogy, and speak worldwide on human rights and the struggle for socialist democracy,” says Dr. McLaren. He is the author and editor of forty-five books and hundreds of scholarly articles and chapters. Dr. McLaren's writings have been translated into 20 languages. Four of his books have won the Critic's Choice Award of the American Educational Studies Association. One of his books, Life in Schools, was chosen in 2004 as one of the twelve most significant education books in existence worldwide by an international panel of experts organized by The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation.

     Many of the classes Dr. McLaren attended at Waterloo influenced his current work and area of research. “My work with the Chavistas in Venezuela, and my support for the Cuban revolution and for movements worldwide such as the Landless Peasants movement in Brazil, and the Shackdwellers movement in South Africa, and the Zapatistas in Mexico, has been profoundly influenced by my experiences at Waterloo,” says Dr. McLaren, “especially classes in Christology and philosophy at St. Jerome's College.” These experiences led him to explore a new subject area, liberation theology. “Waterloo was filled with wonderful educators who revealed a strong compassion for those who have been oppressed by racism, capitalism, and patriarchy,” says Dr. McLaren, “and these teachers turned out to be wonderful examples of social justice educators, although I am sure they didn't call themselves by that name at the time.”

     Dr. McLaren’s love for English began when he entered and won a school-wide writing contest in junior-high school. He then joined a student group who called themselves "The Young Poets." “I was influenced by beatnik culture at the time and the avant-garde,” says Dr. McLaren.

     Waterloo wasn’t initially Dr. McLaren’s first choice of university. He began his university studies at the University of Toronto. “Actually, I got in trouble with some of my professors studying Middle English at Victoria College, University of Toronto, and decided that I needed to escape Toronto and get grounded,” recalls Dr. McLaren. “I was drawn to Waterloo's stellar reputation.”

     While living in Waterloo, Dr. McLaren loved attending the musical events and seeing folksingers. Among his favourites was “Poor Charlie.” “Poor Charlie wore a world war two sheepskin flight jacket, smoked cigars, and played bottleneck guitar. He inspired an interest in vintage clothing and country blues. Fortunately not in cigars,” says Dr. McLaren. “But there was one weekend in particular, when a US anti-Vietnam war activist came and spoke, that had a profound effect on the direction on my life,” recalls Dr. McLaren, “and now I can’t even recall who it was who spoke!”

     Dr. McLaren left his native Canada in 1985 to work in the United States where he continues to be active in the struggle for socialism. A Marxist humanist, he lectures widely in Latin America, North America, Asia, and Europe. His most recent book (co-authored with Nathalia Jaramillo) is Pedagogy and Praxis in the Age of Empire (Rotterdam and Taiwan, Sense Publications).

     Dr. McLaren was the inaugural recipient of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Award presented by Chapman University, California.

     The charter for La Fundacion McLaren de Pedagogia Critica was signed at the University of Tijuana in July 2004. La Catedra Peter McLaren was inaugurated in Venezuela on September 15, 2006 as part of a joint effort between El Centro Internacional Miranda and La Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

     In 2006, during the Bush administration, Dr. McLaren made international headlines when he was targeted by a right-wing extremist organization in the United States and put at the top of the "Dirty Thirty" list of leftist professors at UCLA. The group offered to pay students a hundred dollars to secretly audiotape McLaren's lectures and those of his fellow leftist professors.

     Dr. McLaren's work has been the subject of two recent books: Teaching Peter McLaren: Paths of Dissent, edited by Marc Pruyn and Luis M. Huerta-Charles (New York: Peter Lang Publications) [translated into Spanish as De La Pedagogia Critica a la pedagogia de la Revolucion: Ensayos Para Comprender a Peter McLaren, Mexico City, Siglo Veintiuno Editores] and Peter McLaren, Education, and the Struggle for Liberation, edited by Mustafa Eryaman (New Jersey: Hampton Press). Dr. McLaren's latest books are A Critical Pedagogy of Consumption, Living and Learning in the Shadow of the "Shopocalypse" (with Jennifer Sandlin, Routledge) and Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex (with Steve Best and Anthony Nocella, AK Press).

To read more about Dr. McLaren, you can visit his websites:

Source: McLaren, Peter. Speech. Mexico, Tuxtepec, Oaxaca. July 2010.

Margaret Martinello (BA 1974)

    As a student at uWaterloo, Dr. Margaret Martinello learned to "work really hard, strive to do your very best, and be passionate about what you do." She applies this to her life every day and finds that it pays off in her personal, professional, and theatre lives. Currently, Margaret is the Director of Development for the William J. Clinton (Bill Clinton) Foundation in New York City. In her spare time she is a playwright. She has produced two plays, one in L.A. and another in P.E.I. (An article about Margaret’s play “Option to Renew” appeared in the September 2007 Alumni newsletter, which can be found here.)

     Margaret realized her love for English when she signed up for her first library card at the age of five years. English became her lifelong passion. Perhaps because she saw the same passion in his teaching, she recalls that Professor Doug Letson taught two of the most memorable courses she took at uWaterloo. One of these was the Introduction to Medieval Literature. Dr. Letson taught her to identify with the mindset of people from hundreds of years ago by making comparisons between it and the mindset of people today. Dr. Letson was deeply committed to what he taught, and the course opened up a whole new world for her studies, influencing her to take a minor in Medieval Literature studies during her Ph.D..

     The other course was the Introduction to Canadian Literature course at St. Jerome's. Little did she know when signing up for the course which she did “simply because it was one of the only ones that fit into her timetable that semester” that it would become one of the most important classes of her undergraduate career. The class was always lively, and Dr. Erik McCormick often invited poets to speak to the students. On one occasion Milton Acorn, who was known as the "People's Poet of P.E.I.," spoke to the class. Later, Margaret would also live in P.E.I., which often reminded her of that class. Before the course, she was unaware of the scope of Canadian literature, and she continued to study it through her graduate student years because of this one class. She found that having small class sizes, such as those at St. Jerome's University, complemented her English major well, as she was able to learn in a more intimate setting. Margaret also enjoyed studying English theatre while at uWaterloo, especially acting and directing. She remembers two professors in particular, Mita Scott Hedges and Paul Roland, who fuelled her passion for English theatre.

     After graduating, Margaret moved to Toronto to pursue her MA in Professional Writing at York University. She then pursued her Ph.D. in English Literature with a major in Canadian Literature and a minor in Medieval Literature, also at York University. After completing her degrees, she began her career as a professor at Seneca College in the 1980's, where she taught creative writing and communications courses. One sabbatical year, she travelled to California, where she studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California (USC). She decided to stay at USC, where she earned MAs in Professional Writing and Production, and eventually took a job at Mount St. Mary's College. Margaret then worked at USC Marshall School of Business as Director of Corporate Relations, assisting with the university's $2.8 billion fundraising campaign, eventually becoming a speechwriter for the university's president. She then worked for the USC Marshall School of Business to launch a $2.8 million fund-raising campaign and spent seven years travelling on behalf of the school to establish relationships with CEOs from around the world before moving to PEI, where she built a house and became Director of Bioscience at the University of Prince Edward Island.

     The writing skills that Margaret learned helped her become an effective writer and editor. She sees English degrees as central to the future work world. In her own studies, she learned that “the ability to be able to read critically and write effectively are critical skills, particularly nowadays.” Presently, she has another screenplay in development, and is working with an Emmy award-winning actress. She hopes to produce the play next year.

Alok Mukherjee (MA 1974)

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to Waterloo to study English?

Alok MukherjeeI came to Canada in August 1971.  I had been teaching English at a college of Delhi University in India since 1966 and was having such a good time that I had made little progress on my PhD!  Since I envisaged a career as an academic, it was imperative that I get this work done if I was to have any hope of succeeding at the university.  I was working on Matthew Arnold for my doctorate and had been accepted by City University of New York and Indiana University, Bloomington.  However, my wife, Arun, who was also an academic, had received a scholarship to come to University of Toronto. Besides, being a bit of a political activist, I was really not keen to go to the US at a time when the country was embroiled in wars abroad and civil discord at home.  So, I came here to check out possibilities at a Canadian university.  I looked for universities in and around Toronto and Waterloo was high on my short list. I was attracted by its proximity to Toronto where we would live. . . .  In those days, people with graduate degrees from India were penalized by many Canadian universities, including the requirement to do a year’s undergraduate work.  There was a superior attitude of “if you don’t like our requirements, you can go back.”  It was, in reality a very provincial attitude bred from an insular culture fostered by little contact with the world beyond North America and Europe. . . .   So, I contacted Waterloo English and went to visit the campus.  Two things struck me, and have stayed in my mind to this day.  First, I fell in love with the layout and atmosphere of the campus with its rolling green spaces, streams and architecture.  Second, I truly appreciated the reception I got from the Chair and the Graduate Director in the English department.  They received me with courtesy, openness and cordiality, took the time to explain the program, answered my questions freely and showed great interest in my Indian academic background.  They were down to earth and eager to assist.  I liked what I found out about the program; its focus on English and American literatures was something I was very familiar with from my Indian education.  And its offerings in Commonwealth and Canadian literatures were exciting in that they took me beyond my comfort zone and introduced me to literatures I had not read, with the exception of English fiction and poetry from India.  I was very impressed, as well, by the youth and diversity of the background of faculty members who had come from so many different places.  My first impression was that it was not a department that had become set in its ways and lost its agility. The icing on the cake, as it were, was that Waterloo English would not require me to waste a year doing undergraduate course work.  It was, perhaps, a mark of the agility I detected.  I felt accepted as an equal, a fellow academic. So, the decision to attend Waterloo was one of the easiest I have had to make!

As someone who only recently joined the English department, I wonder if you might share a bit about what the department was like in that era? In retrospect what do you find particularly memorable about courses, faculty, or fellow students?

That' a tough question, Jennifer, because it cannot be answered briefly. You are really taking me down the memory lane here.  So, please indulge me! . . . Like I said before, I had been an activist on the Delhi University campus where I had arrived as a 20-year young faculty member at a very exciting time. The university was in ferment over both issues of global power relations and academic issues.  Coming to Canada was something of an escape for professional reasons.  And I had been working on Matthew Arnold for my PhD, reading pretty voraciously about questions of culture in an industrial society.  As you know, politics was never too far from Arnold’s work on culture.  I had also done considerable work on the Harvard Humanist, Irving Babbitt.  So, my interest in literature was not so much from an aestheticist perspective as from this larger perspective of politics of culture and the function of literature within it. . . . And in course after course at Waterloo, I got an opportunity to pursue different aspects of this perspective.  In a way, the foundation for the work I eventually did many years later for my PhD at York were laid in this conjuncture of what intellectual capital I had brought from India and what Waterloo English gave me! . . .  Let me share a few examples with you.  In George Hibbard’s course on Shakespeare, we talked a lot about the ideal ruler and who, at the end, is admitted to the Forest of Arden and who is excluded.  Hibbard, of course, was the Grand Old Man, jovial, generous and kindly. He endeared himself to me by the fact that he knew personally one of my mentors in India, a leading Shakespeare scholar, and had read his writings!  Then there was Warren Ober, scholarly, always impeccably dressed and courteous to a fault.  I took his course on Keats, a single author course.  And we didn’t just discuss the beauty and elegance of Keats’s poetry.  We looked at what lay behind them.  And one of the papers I am still very proud of is the final paper I wrote for him tracing the ideas of Hazlitt in Keats.  Another professor I remember very fondly and with great respect is Walter Martin, pipe-smoking like Hibbard (those were the days when we smoked in the class!) and usually dressed in rumpled tweeds.  I took his course on Conrad, and it was a delight because I had never read Conrad with the same care or appreciated the full force of his power.  Martin brought those out and the one point that has stayed with me (perhaps even influenced how I have lived) is how we find meaning – and save ourselves – only through the work we do.  . . .  Here, I have to share a story which, in my mind, captures some of the caring qualities of the faculty with whom I came into contact.  Early in the term, Martin gave us our first writing assignment – a short paper.  Imagine my shock when I got the paper back and found that, for the first time in my life and for my first ever paper in Canada, I had got a C+!  I went to see Neil Hultin, the Graduate Director, to complain that this was undeserved and speculated why it happened.  Hultin looked perplexed and assured me that Martin was a very fair prof.  He also shared with me the story of who Martin was and why he left his native South Africa.  Hultin suggested that I talk to Martin and if, then, I was still not satisfied, I should come and see him.  So, I went to see Martin and we read the paper together.  Martin gave me a very detailed commentary on the paper, and, as it turned out, he had trouble not with my argument but how I wrote!  There were sentence constructions that were common in India but unfamiliar to him.  Though grammatically correct, he found them awkward.  So, we agreed that he and I will review the next two papers in draft before I gave him the final versions.  I completed the course with an A- and we remained friends for a very long time.  By the interest he took in me, he probably helped me do well for the rest of my academic career in Canadian universities.  This interest in the performance of each student was, however, not atypical of the faculty.  I recall Gordon Slethaug who succeeded Hultin as Graduate Director and taught us Southern American fiction.  When reading a Eudora Welty novel in his course, we had a rather lively discussion of the pros and cons of the strong family – how it can be a source of strength and, at the same time, be suffocating.  The image that remains in my mind is that of a pile of bamboo sticks tied tightly together – strong but also rigid and liable to fall apart when the cord unravels.  We had many good conversations and remained in contact for a long time even after he went away to teach in Hong Kong.  There were professors McRae, who taught us Commonwealth literature, and McNaughton, who taught Canadian literature.  These were new fields, not just for Waterloo, but Canadian universities generally at that time.  Norman Jeffares in England had understood that the time had come with the independence of British colonies to develop a different global relationship and he saw in the literatures of these countries a rich opportunity for developing a relationship of respect and appreciation between Britain and its former colonies.  Canada was embracing this notion slowly.  And this had also created an opening for the introduction of Canadian literature. Waterloo was one of the first English departments to introduce courses.  These courses opened up areas of study and research that I would not have known otherwise.  I still remember very well the impact that reading and writing on A M Klein’s The Second Scroll had on me – a Canadian work that brought me in contact with the larger Jewish history and experience, something that, growing up in India, I knew virtually nothing about.Speaking of opening up a world, I must mention Alan Dust with whom I took a most enjoyable and informative reading course on Bibliography and Research Methods.  I well remember Dust – chain smoking, intense and funny – meeting me once every two weeks in his office for the reading course. He would begin by quizzing me on my progress and then say dismissively, “Ah well, you know this stuff.”  For the rest of the time he would engage in an excited conversation (monologue, really) about books.  He loved books, acquired them constantly and had the most amazing collection of rare books and first editions that I had seen.  He wanted to transmit this excitement about books to me.  And finally, there was Ken Leadbetter, who taught us American fiction and poetry and became my MA dissertation supervisor on a comparative study of the theories of imagination of Coleridge and Wallace Stevens.  Ober and Slethaug were the other members of my committee.  Waterloo, as you may know, did not have a doctoral program at that time, and, although there was MPhil, for most students MA was the final degree in English.  For that reason, the dissertation was a very important part of the Waterloo English MA.  Consequently, it is to be expected that I should have a particularly close relationship with Leadbetter.  But he had a way of building relationships with his students that drew a whole bunch of us to him.  We took his courses; we hung out together; we even cited each other’s work in our papers!  I well remember the members of the group – Judi, Cory, Margaret, Ken, Art, Franco and Ed.  We explored with great energy unorthodox interpretations of the texts we were reading; we engaged with each other’s research; and we socialized.  Leadbetter was very much a part of the circle.  We became such close friends that eventually whenever I stayed over in Waterloo because of a late class it was taken for granted that I would stay with one of them.  Our families became friends. . . .  So, as you can see, it was a very close-knit department, shaped very much by the personalities of faculty members who were fine scholars, who demanded much of students, who took a deep interest in the wellbeing of their students and who maintained a truly collegial atmosphere.  We worked hard, and we enjoyed ourselves.

Your current position, as Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, makes you stand out among Waterloo's English graduates. What was your trajectory from Waterloo to your current position?

One thing for sure, Jennifer – I have not followed a trajectory that was predictable or conventional, and it was a rather innocuous experience that played a decisive role.  While at Waterloo, my wife and I had been invited to visit an elementary school in Georgetown (now Halton Hills).  The two daughters of a family we had become good friends with in Georgetown went to school there and our friends thought that it would be educational for students to meet us and hear from us about India.  When we arrived, the children were surprised as they were expecting Canadian “Indians” in traditional dress, not a brown man in a suit and tie and a brown woman in a gorgeous silk outfit.  So, a lively conversation ensued which brought out some rather odd ideas and views about India.  We asked to see the books they were required to read and were appalled.  These were books approved by Ontario’s Ministry of Education.  So, as President of the Indian Students Association at UofT, where I had gone from Waterloo for my PhD, I initiated a project funded by the federal government.  A team of UofT students analyzed all the Social Studies textbooks approved for use in Ontario’s secondary schools to see how they portrayed the Indian sub-continent and its peoples.  They also produced original essays on India and the Indo-Canadian community.  This work, East Indians:  Myths and Reality, came out in 1978 and had a significant impact on the thinking about issues of bias related to race, culture and religion in school textbooks.  This was to be my first published work in Canada and you could say that my academic training in terms of reading, analyzing and interpreting texts and my political activism converged in this project.  That also set the course of the future for me.  As a result of this publication, I received a call from the Toronto Board of Education to say that they would like me to consider working for the Board, which, at that time, was beginning to pay significant attention to the whole area of multiculturalism and race relations.  This was to be my first real job in Canada.  I spent 10 years at the Board, first in strengthening relations between the school and the community and later on, as Race Relations Advisor, in developing the system’s ability to provide education with attention to equity, human rights and anti-racism.  I left the Board after 10 years and established a consulting practice.  For the next several years, I combined consulting with public appointments, research and writing.  During this time, I was served as head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and as a member of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services.  It was a privilege to have these public appointments as they gave me an opportunity to learn about so many issues and to make a positive contribution.  Then in 1997, I felt the need to finish the one unfinished piece of business – my PhD.  I think the years since I left the university and did all these other things had also helped me identify the exact question I wanted to pursue by way of a doctoral project.  So, while I continued my consulting practice, I went to York for my PhD.  And it was the reference letters from two of my Waterloo professors, Martin and Ober, that helped me to get in after a break of over 20 years!  The stay at York was very productive.  It gave me an opportunity to return to the academic field, to design and teach some very interesting courses in South Asian cultures, languages and literatures as well as Native Canadian literature, and to publish two books that I am very pleased with – Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature, which is a translation of a work on the literature of India’s untouchable writers by one of the foremost untouchable writers, and This Gift of English, which proposes a new analysis of the rise of English education in India as a convergence of British and Indian ruling class interests.  I was at York till 2003, and then the call for public service beckoned me again as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board, and here I am!  I joined the police board in 2004 as Vice Chair and have been chair since 2005, which makes me the second longest serving chair of this board.  It has been, as you know, quite a momentous few years in the history of Canadian policing, and I do believe that the sensibility that my English education has inculcated in me has stood me in good stead.

Do you think your study of literature, narrative, writing, etc. has proven useful along the way?

Very much so, as I have tried to indicate.  Governing, which is what I am involved with, requires a particular sensibility, a generosity of spirit and mind as well as an ability to accept people as they are, to hear multiple perspectives and viewpoints, to analyze and interpret, and to persuade through the spoken and written word.  You can know all the theories of management and organizational behaviour, you can be an expert in reading numbers and working with them, you can be well versed in law and policy, but if you don’t have those other attributes, you can be a good technocrat but not a good governor of people.  Rhetoric, that is, persuading people to your point of view, is very much central to this role.  You know, an organization is made up of human beings, and human beings don’t just bring technical skills, they also bring emotions; when they work together, they develop or destroy relationships; they collaborate, cooperate and conspire.  There are living narratives, and you have to make sense of them.  So, I do believe strongly that my study of literature, my ability to interpret narratives and my training in reading, writing and speaking are an essential contributor to whatever success I have had in my present role as Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board.

Actually, narratives are what I deal with daily – and not just in dealing with people and their issues inside the organization.  You know, some of the biggest issues that I have had to, and continue to be called upon to, deal with involve narratives. Whether it is G20 and its aftermath, police interaction with people with mental illness, allegations of racial profiling or carding as it has come to be known, the Chief of Police’s proposal to provide more police officers with Tasers or, for that matter, the outcry related to the police investigation that has touched the city’s Mayor:  each of these is about people and their lives.  Just this week, we finished appearing at an inquest concerning the death of three individuals with acute mental illness at the hands of the police.  I had to decide how the Board will respond and give instructions daily to our lawyers.  It necessarily meant that I had to learn about the lives of these individuals and ask myself questions about how they came to such tragic end in order to decide what we could do to prevent these deaths.  Similarly, in responding to the charge of racial profiling, it was not enough to make an abstract decision based on legal considerations.  We invited members of the community to come to the Board and, in public, tell us about their experience.  It brought out so many stories about the lives, realities, hopes and fears of the young people, neighbourhoods and communities that make up our extremely diverse city.  These stories told us a lot about the effect that police can have on the lives of people, young people and made us ask ourselves if we should not be concerned about this effect when we make decisions about matters like policies, training, hiring and objectives of policing.  Also Tasers and G20 – I cannot say enough about the impact of the stories we heard.  I could not do my work well if I based my decisions or responses solely on disembodied statistics, impersonal laws or abstract strategic considerations.  When I gave a public apology to those who had been subjected to illegal or improper police conduct during G20, it was because I was very conscious of them as human beings engaging in a very human action, the expression of their feelings about a world that was not to their liking.  Interestingly, I remain the only official who made such an apology.  Was that because of my literary education? Perhaps!  I am certainly the only one involved in the world of policing who wrote a very public and personal response to the tragic killing of a young man, Sammy Yatim, by a police officer.  My point, I guess, is that my background as a student of literature and narratives has given an added dimension to my approach to the decisions I make.  I hope that, as a result, I make decisions that are humane, morally richer and grounded in an understanding of the hopes, fears and condition of real human beings.

Finally, I am curious, what are you currently reading? Is there an author you wish more people would read?

You know, I have not cut myself off entirely from literature.  To confess, at the end of a busy and stressful day, when the only time to read is the time between dinner and sleep, I go for mysteries!  I love this genre and search for works from all over the world. But I also have a serious interest, which, perhaps not surprising in light of my earlier comments, happens to be literature related to issues of human rights, human dignity and the nature of society.  Specifically, I am referring to the literature of India’s untouchable people, known as Dalit literature.  The word “dalit” quite literally means to be ground under.  There is a rich body of literature emerging from this community, very much in line with the literatures of other oppressed peoples.  My wife, Arun Mukherjee, who is a professor of English at York, and I are good friends with many Dalit writers and academics.  We read their work extensively, and we also translate their writings to make them available more widely.  So, as I have mentioned, I have translated a theoretical work by the writer from Maharashtra in India, Sharankumar Limbale.  I have also translated a Hindi writer, Mohandas Naimishray and am revising my translation of two very powerful plays by another writer from Maharashtra, Ramnath Chavan.  These are all part of a collection that my Indian publisher wants me to put together, of Dalit literature of the last 20 years that deals with the emerging Dalit subjectivity.

Marjorie Stone (MA 1974, MPHIL 1975)

A constellation of circumstances led to Dr. Marjorie Stone attending Waterloo's MA program in 1972. She was offered a scholarship to enter uWaterloo's MA in English; since her husband was a student at the University of Guelph at that point, and Marjorie could commute to uWaterloo every day, she was happy to take up the scholarship offer.

     She enjoyed the program at Waterloo, and particularly the opportunity to take courses with Robert Martin (on the fiction of Joseph Conrad and D. H. Lawrence), Helen Ellis (on Romantic poetry), Joseph Gold (on Charles Dickens), and Ken Ledbetter (on William Faulkner). She also made some very good friends at Waterloo, including Sally Melville, and especially enjoyed the Farmer's Market in Kitchener-Waterloo. She wrote her M. Phil. thesis on the representation of women in Faulkner's novels under Ken Ledbetter's supervision.

     Thanks to the encouragement of her Waterloo professors, she applied for a doctoral fellowship and won a Canada Council grant (this was before the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council took over the funding of doctoral fellowships). With this support, she pursued her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, finding that she had had a strong foundation for this through her M.A. at Waterloo.

     After successfully defending her dissertation (on the novels of Dickens), she completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the support of a SSHRC postdoctoral studies grant, also at the University of Toronto, and was subsequently offered a tenure-track position at Dalhousie University. Now a tenured professor, she researches and teaches 19th century literature (especially Victorian literature), Women in Writing, Literature and Medicine, and Immigration and Citizenship studies. Today, Marjorie is the McCulloch Chair in English and Professor of Gender Studies at Dalhousie University. She has published on various authors including Dickens, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tennyson, Elizabeth Gaskell, Toni Morrison, Christina Rossetti and diverse subjects, including Victorian poetry and fiction, feminist ethics, citizenship studies and sex trafficking. In 1996-98, she served as President of the Association of College and University Teachers of English, and from 1999-2002, she was Dalhousie University's first Assistant Dean of Research for the Humanities and Social Sciences.  From 2004-7, she was a Centre Director for the Atlantic Metropolis Centre, an interuniversity centre for research on immigration and diversity.

Aggie and Shannon Beynon (BA 1975, BA 1998)

Shannon BeynonShannon (BA 1998, Music) and Aggie (BA 1975, English) Beynon are a mother-daughter duo who are pursuing their passion for music and fine arts through their selected careers.

In December 2000, Shannon released her first solo CD called My Illusion. She currently is in the opera chorus singing with Opera Ontario, which is putting on shows in Hamilton and Kitchener for The Marriage of Figaro. She is also pursuing a Masters of Music Education at the University of Victoria, through a three-year summer program.

While at Waterloo, her favourite class was Voice Studio because it gave her the opportunity to sing. Leonard Enns was her favourite professor - an incredible mentor and choir conductor. He is someone she looked up to because of his experience in music and composing, as well as his knowledge of music and being very accessible and easy to talk to.

I started university to learn something, not just to get a degree. University taught me many things - how to find resources to solve a problem, how to access information, how to get involved, how to audition, and how to get the information needed to make a CD. I met lots of people who were interested in what I was interested in. I was also able to discover what kind of careers were available. University gives you a chance to get your feet wet before trying to do something out in the real world - and it's so much fun!

says Shannon.

In addition, an Arts education gave me more confidence: working with people, singing, trying different projects, taking a variety of subjects - all these things allowed me to be adaptable regarding different types of jobs.

Shannon is a believer in following her passion. Her advice to students considering a BA is:

If you have any goals or aspirations, always think you can do it. Don't even consider how long or how hard - that's not the point.

And Shannon is living proof of that. She'll always follow her dreams because she is following it now. In five years' time she would love to be singing in a Disney movie. There is no doubt in our minds she will achieve that goal.

Shanno Beynon

Shannon's mother, Aggie Beynon, is the co-owner of the Harbinger Gallery on the corner of Regina and Dupont streets in Waterloo, as well as, a reknowned artist in metal work. Her art has been shown and sold in over 200 galleries, museums and shops in Canada and around the world. In 1999, she was named Oktoberfest Woman of the Year in the Literature/Art category. Her work has been mentioned in two books, Barros' Ornament and Object and Crawford's A Fine Line: Seventy Years of Studio Crafts in Ontario.

While at Waterloo she pursued a degree in English. Her favourite course was the study of Shakespeare's plays and her favourite professor was Dr. Shields (retired) with the course "Practice and Theory of Criticism". Near the end of her studies at Waterloo, she started to develop an interest in the Fine Arts by taking some studio courses. She continued that area of study at the University of Kansas by pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while raising three daughters.

At Kansas, she worked closely with an Engineering professor, Ken Rose, to develop a unique metal process, combining powdered metals, to form a textured metal. She was able to develop a process that experts said wasn't possible. That process continues to influence her art.

I've observed that the best business people are the ones who are the most well rounded. If you can communicate on levels that are not just from your own narrow bias you will be more successful. The more you can communicate with other people on a variety of topics, the more successful you will be. The onus is on the individual to learn.

Aggie says.

Arts is an intellectual pursuit - just like math. We don't often understand why arts is an important as, say, math. I believe an arts education helps us establish our values and further, helps us define ourselves culturally. The arts are part of the cornerstone of being educated.

In addition to Harbinger Gallery, Aggie is actively involved in her community. She has chaired and co-chaired numerous fund raising projects for the benefit of art organizations. Her most recent endeavour is a "Brush with Art", a registered charity. She initiated this grassroots fundraising venture that creates partnerships with businesses, galleries and artists to maintain a cultural environment in this area. In the last four years Brush With Art has raised over $80,000 for the visual arts community in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Aggie is very grateful for the life she has and feels she has been given a lot by the people in her life. If she had to do it again she says,

I'd learn more. I would take opportunities I didn't take before. I would work on being more confident - earlier. Every experience in life is an important experience because everything leads to where you end up.

Both Shannon and Aggie are examples of following your dreams, pursuing your passion and creating opportunities in your life.

Judi Jewinski (BA 1975, MA 1977)

Judi JewinskiAs a student at Waterloo, Judi Jewinski didn't mind taking a few risks. She pursued her bachelor’s and master's degrees in English and selected her courses to satisfy her interest in writing and grammar. Her MA was unconventional because she was able to take language related courses long before the creation of the RPW program and because it was in an area that was as yet unproven in terms of the job market.

As an undergraduate, Judi applied her love of language to the serious study of English grammar. In Fall 1971, Judi took ENGL 240R (The Use and Abuse of English) at Renison with Professor Harry Tuyn, a specialist in language teaching. She enjoyed his class because he challenged students to parse sentences and eliminate deadwood.

Professor Tuyn also taught ESL conversation classes for the Dean of Arts. At the time there were only enough students on campus to make up one class! After inviting Judi to teach one idiom class per week of the course, Professor Tuyn prepared the lesson plans and mentored her as a teacher. Only a third-year student at the time, Judi found her calling: she loved not only teaching but learning about teaching . She now applies that knowledge to teaching two of the courses she took at Renison in the ‘70s: ENGL 376R/377R (Applied English Grammar I/II).

One of Judi’s favourite memories is that of a 1975 debate pitting students against professors. As the only female debater, Judi felt rather satisfied with her performance, despite the student team’s loss, because she had been up against Professor Jack Gray, a formidable opponent. She was pleased, that is, until Professor Rota Lister, the supervisor of her honours essay, pointed out to her that she’d used he and his  as generic pronouns throughout her argument. From that moment on, Judi began consciously to monitor her own utterances and keep careful track of people’s language usage—another bonus for her career.

After graduation, Judi had planned to work for the federal government. However, two events changed her mind. First, she met her future husband, Ed, a TA in ENGL 208A, Fantasy Literature. Second, Professor Gordon Slethaug asked her if she had ever thought of attending grad school. (She hadn’t.) Judi decided to take a risk she has never regretted: ”Turning down the Ottawa job was hard, but grad school was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Judi remembers being part of the first offering of English 109 in the fall term of 1974. Professor Ken Ledbetter taught the course and had offered her a teaching assistantship for the course. Judi recalls that Dr. Ledbetter ”lectured with  panache“ and that the students “loved his unconventional approach.”

Judi's attention to grammatical details sometimes caused her to overemphasize prescriptive rules. Typing a paper for her fiancé one night, she noticed a split infinitive in a sentence. Ed said that he wanted the sentence to be left as is, but Judi insisted that the error be corrected. Eventually, they compromised by leaving the split infinitive and adding a footnote clarifying it as a stylistic choice. When Professor Ledbetter returned the marked essay, he had written “pedant” in green magic marker on the page containing the footnote. Another lesson for Judi.

In 1979, Judi established the regional affiliate of TESL Ontario, a professional federation of English as a Second Language teachers of all levels. There were 25 original members (the minimum number allowed). Now, there are over 150 in the Waterloo-Wellington area. Judi’s original ESL course, taught with Harry Tuyn, has blossomed into 7 different credit courses for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Judi herself is the director of uWaterloo’s English Language Institute at Renison University College with eleven full-time and fourteen part-time staff. She is proud that the English Language Institute has grown from only four students taking classes in 1994 through to today, where there are so many students enrolled that there are no empty classrooms at Renison in August.

Judi shares her love for language with her students in the ESL classes at Renison, including ENGL/ESL 129R, an academic writing course for non-native English speakers, offered on campus and online. She has also managed the Writing Clinic, taught as a sessional at both uWaterloo and Laurier, and from 1986 to 2008, been a partner in WordsWork Associates, a company offering editing and writing services to the KW business community.

Currently, Judi is the Administrative Dean at Renison, taking care of academic, student, and course management while still teaching and acting as ELI Director of the English Language Institute. Among her other accomplishments, Judi has authored and co-authored a number of books about writing and grammar. Retirement is likely less than ten years away!

Father James Donohue (BA 1978)

Father James DonahueHow many people can say that they wrote part of a Shakespeare play? Although Father James (Jim) Donohue might not make a claim that bold, he once tried to imitate the Bard’s style convincingly enough to enter a Shakespeare-themed party held at Professor Ruth Levitsky's home. At the end of each school year, Dr. Levitsky held this party for her students. Everyone would dress up as a character from one of Shakespeare's plays and memorize a few lines spoken by that character. Jim and his friends dressed up as the three witches from Macbeth. Prior to the party, he was upset with his friends because they had not memorized their lines, but when they arrived, Jim became nervous and forgot his own lines. All three made up their own new lines on the spot, and their creativity won them a prize for comedy.

Jim originally began his post-secondary education at another institution. But after only three weeks of classes in the pre-med program at McMaster University, he transferred to the University of Waterloo and studied English through St. Jerome's University College, living in the seminary at Resurrection College.

In a memorable class with Sister Leon White in St. Jerome's, Jim recalls writing the bibliography for one of his assignments on the blackboard. His bibliography was very good with practically no mistakes, but Sister Leon was determined to find an error. She looked over the blackboard, reading carefully, when all of a sudden she found a mistake and announced to the class that the word “Dorothy” had been spelled wrong. Jim was amazed at her ability to catch even the smallest mistakes.

Jim also recalls when Sister Leon told the class about a lunch to which she had gone with some of the other nuns. At the restaurant, a server approached the nuns and asked “Are yous ready to order?” Sister Leon was taken aback by the server’s poor grammar. One student asked her, “What did you say to her? ‘You ain't read the menu yet?'”

Three of the English courses Jim took, all taught by the same professor, had a reputation for being difficult. Professor Doug Letson taught the first-year course Isolation and Alienation, second-year Old English, and third-year Middle English courses. However, Jim recalls that Dr. Letson made students feel like they could do the work and learn the material.

Upon graduating from uWaterloo, Jim joined the Resurrectionists and became a priest. He then worked in the parish at St. Aloysius in Kitchener. Some time later, he attended graduate school and earned his PhD at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Currently, Jim is teaching in the Theology Department at Mount St. Mary's University (the second oldest Catholic University in the United States) in Emmitsburg, Maryland. At uWaterloo, Jim learned that “when you are an English student the two things that you learn are how to read and write.” He had many teachers who were good models and strives in his own classroom to teach students to read and write well.

Sharon Lamont (BA 1978, BA 1980)

Sharon Lamonts    If you use uWaterloo's libraries at all, chances are that your university career and Sharon Lamont have overlapped. Sharon is the Director of Organizational Services for uWaterloo libraries and manages their operating budget. While a student, she worked as casual part-time staff for the library to help fund her degree. Library work taught her about the career opportunities available, and she applied for the first full-time job offering that came up after she completed her schooling. Since then, she has held various jobs within the library, a place she loves.

   Having grown up in Kitchener, Sharon intended to attend a university away from home. However, her parents moved to Washington D.C. the year she began her university degree, and with her family so far away, she decided to attend uWaterloo and live at Conrad Grebel because it was familiar and she felt connected to the student community. This also allowed her to remain close to friends outside the university. Living on campus taught her how to live among her peers.

Sharon    Attending uWaterloo taught Sharon many lessons about growing up. She had easily handled the work required in high school and did not anticipate the increased difficulty of coursework at the university level. She was devastated the first time she failed an assignment, the first paper she had written for Dr. Jack Gray’s Shakespeare course. The idea that you had to synthesize your thinking before writing your thoughts down was a big learning lesson. Dr. Jim Stone earned Sharon's respect and appreciation because he would always provide corrections and explanations of how to improve her writing on the essays she wrote. She came to value the time and effort it took him to provide her with the valuable feedback that helped her to become a better writer.

   Professors Dr. George Hibbard and Dr. Ken Ledbetter are also among the faculty Sharon remembers fondly. Dr. Hibberd would read and recite Shakespeare during class. He was just out of mythology. She found Dr. Ledbetter's classes the most fun and later became a teaching assistant for his English writing course: he was able to connect with so many different kinds of people in so many different ways and seemed ahead of his time. For much of her early life, Sharon aspired to become a teacher, but teaching the tutorial, she realized I couldn't imagine doing this every day of my life and realized I didn't want to be a teacher.

   Sharon learned that it is important to consider how others might read and understand a text and applies this to her own writing. Having the ability to transfer one's knowledge to the reader in a way that is understandable is important to her. She realized the importance of this ability from all the paper writing she did as a student. This lesson has been very useful to me, she says. My ability to articulate my thoughts, in writing and verbally, has helped me to get promoted within the library system.

Karen Redman (BA 1978)

    The Kitchener-Waterloo community may know her best as the long-serving Liberal MP for KitchenerCentre, but Karen Redman began her post-secondary education with plans to become an occupational therapist. Like many children of second-generation Canadian families, she was raised to set a high value on a university education. But after a freshman year spent taking all science courses, she felt uninspired. Knowing how much she loved to read, her mother suggested she switch into the English program at the University of Toronto, where she was studying at the time. There she had the chance to hear Northrop Frye lecture, an experience that made her realize how rich the study of literature could be. When she returned to Waterloo a year later to marry, she was determined to continue with her degree. After training as a legal secretary, she enrolled as a part-time English student at the University of Waterloo. “The school had a good reputation,” she says, “and the prospect of becoming a co-op student was very exciting.” Eventually attending full time, she did indeed become a co-op student and was thrilled to be hired for her initial work placement by The Globe and Mail. Before she could take up the position, life intervened in the form of her first pregnancy. Still, the co-op program opened her eyes to the career possibilities available to English graduates. (Retired professor Dr. Helen Ellis has similar recollections of how the co-op program changed students’ and faculty’s ideas of employment. Read her profile here.)

      Karen enjoyed the smaller class sizes at Waterloo and the variety of professors she encountered in them, a memorable example being Sister Leon White at St. Jerome’s. “She could teach all Chaucer’s bawdy bits with a totally straight face,” Karen laughs. “It was amazing.” She also learned a great deal from her linguistics professor, Harry Logan.

      After the birth of her first child, Karen balanced her love of reading and writing with parenthood by writing stories for her own children and working as a freelance writer. One of her favourite posts was a five-year stint as a creative writing teacher at Breithaupt Senior Citizens Centre. She admired her students’ frankness. “Nothing was off limits to them,” she remembers. “They would talk about anything.” From holding various jobs in the community—legal secretary, dental receptionist, and school board trustee in addition to creative writing instructor—Karen became involved in local politics, first as a Kitchener City Councillor and then as a Municipal Councillor. In 1997, she was approached to run for the federal Liberals. During her twelve years in Ottawa—her “first foray into partisan politics”—she was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the caucus, an eclectic mixture of Canadians that included ACTRA members, retired accountants, fishermen, and a former taxi driver among others. The experience came with many rewards and a few insights about women in politics. “Women don’t often self-identify as candidates, which makes mentoring terribly important,” she believes.