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Lourdes Villamor - Keelite of the Month April 2013
2007 Study Abroad
What am I doing now?
I hold three professional positions in higher education institutions in Toronto, Canada. My first is Staff Tutor at Seneca College, supporting students through one-on-one and group meetings. Secondly, I am a Lecturer and Educational Advisor at Victoria College, where I teach English composition and counsel students on post-secondary applications and student life. Third, I am a Senior Note-Taker and Editor at George Brown College, where I support students with disabilities by providing real-time transcription, captioning and educational counselling in lectures.
On the side, I am a Research Assistant in the Faculty of Education at York University, Ontario. We are currently completing two projects on higher education, culture, social media and Web 2.0 technologies.
I represent Keele in Toronto during Study Abroad Fairs as an alumni ambassador. I enjoy keeping fit and playing a variety of sports. Lastly, I am still quite the adventurer; I love travelling whenever I have the opportunity to do so!
Photo right: London reunion 2012 with fellow Keelite Stacie McGowan (2008)
How did you get to where you are now?
A combination of things: my personality, a strong support system and life-changing opportunities. I am the type of person who aims for progress and not perfection. Connected to this, when I desire to accomplish something, I do everything I can to achieve it. I believe that with an adamantine work ethic, determination, tenacity, and the passion to follow your dreams, success will never be too far from your grasp.
Positive people in my life have also been key to my accomplishments; it really helps when there are people who push you to your fullest potential and support you during setbacks.
Some life-changing opportunities included studying, working, and volunteering abroad. After Keele, I completed a French Language Immersion program in Québec in 2007 and obtained my BA at York University in 2008. I worked abroad in Ireland and took my M.Ed. and concurrent Diploma at York University. In 2012 I completed a summer program at Harvard University, where I focused on Creative Writing.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think that my life has been comprised of many little achievements, but if I had to choose, it would be my Master of Education with concurrent Diploma at York. I grew as an educator and improved so many skills that I now use in my career.
Photo: York University convocation: earned my Master of Education and Diploma in Post-Secondary Education (2012)
And your biggest mistake?
I think my biggest mistake would have to be not grasping career-related opportunities when I had the chance; however, it’s always easier to gauge the value of something in hindsight. So, I wouldn’t change anything as all my achievements and “questionable choices” have shaped who I am today.
What are your ambitions now?
I would like to continue working in higher education to influence students’ lives. Ultimately, my goals are to complete a Ph.D. and become a professor or dean.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Obtain as much experience as possible before, during and after your education. For instance, pursue extracurricular activities, sports and volunteering in various positions. Do your research and search for opportunities to contribute and hone your skills while you are a student - make and maintain connections even before you are looking for positions. The higher education industry is a tight-knit community, particularly in Canada, and it always helps to have guidance from those already established.
Try different positions to see which ones fit your interests, skills and education the most. There are many opportunities to make a difference. International experience is critical. Take every opportunity that you have to learn, gain experience and develop yourself; no experience is worthless and you never know when your knowledge and experience will be of value.
What made you choose Keele University?
I had the opportunity of completing my junior year abroad at Keele University through an exchange with York University. I based my decision on the quality of academics being offered and the opportunities to be involved in athletics and extracurricular activities. Keele’s multifarious academic programs and sports teams, along with excellent facilities, provided me with an ideal institution to undertake studies and to have a rewarding athletic and social life. Also, Keele is a mid-size university, which ensured me smaller class sizes, more professor interaction and a tight-knit student body.
What kind of a student were you?
I have always been an over-achieving student who values a good balance between academics, employment, sports and social activities, and I continued that lifestyle at Keele. In one year I founded and led the Intramural Sports Club, I was an International Student Ambassador and Peer Mentor, and was involved in the Badminton Club, International Students Organization and the Yearbook. The camaraderie aided my transition to Keele and England in general.
Photo: At a KUSU event (2006)
How has Keele influenced your life?
My time at Keele was a memorable growth period. It was the first time I lived on my own outside of Canada; so, not only did I have to adjust to a new school, but also to another country! The support system and student body at Keele greatly aided my academic and personal transition and made me a stronger, more versatile person. I became addicted to travelling and spending time with the students I met.
I progressed academically but I also developed stronger skills with a healthy balance between academics and athletics. Most importantly I forged strong friendships - some of which continue today. Maintaining contact with Keele’s International Office has allowed me to keep abreast of Keele events and to participate in recruiting prospective students as an alumni ambassador in Toronto. In short, Keele has made a lasting impression in my life, and I never hesitate to share my experiences with others!
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
This is probably the toughest question to answer out of them all, and I just can’t choose one! Some of the best memories that I have are of socializing and travelling with the friends I made at Keele.
What is your impression of Keele now?
I revisited Keele back in 2008 and there were already improvements and expansions occurring. I have no doubt that Keele has grown exponentially since then while retaining the “Keele Bubble”. Keele has also grown in reputation as a global institution. What I find most impressive about Keele from personal experience is how well it connects with international students and alumni. The university manages to create not only a welcoming, inclusive environment, but its atmosphere is so conducive to meaningful, lasting relationships.
Photo: Leaving Keele (2007)
Anything else you would like to add?
If you are thinking of attending Keele University, I recommend a visit to the campus and speaking with students (past and present), staff and instructors. It is difficult to describe the atmosphere and lasting impression that this university has; you must experience it for yourself!
Last but not least, I would also like to thank everyone who made my time at Keele so memorable!