Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
I am a person who has been keenly interested in the study of science and its application to helping people who are in need. My clinical practice and business development have been shaped by my strong commitment to ethical practice and evidence-based decision making. All interactions with clients, as well as with my employees/associates, and my family are shaped by these convictions.
What was New College like when you came?
New College was at the edge of the campus and as such afforded somewhat of a reprieve from the frenetic pace of the remainder of the university. The students were from a variety of backgrounds—socio-economic and cultural—but somehow the cultural trappings at the end of the 70s continued to bind us together during Frosh week, the bands and dances held during the weekends, and the choice of the New Faces plays performed by various students within our college.
What are some of your strongest memories from your time at New College?
I fondly remember the dreaded invitation to one of Dean Audrey Taylor’s ‘Sherry evenings.’ I had no idea what Sherry was, but knew that this was not a happy social evening of free drinking, for Dean Audrey ran the residence much as I anticipated a British schoolmarm ran the most respected and staunch of British private schools. The evening seemed to last forever with much small talk and idle conversation. When the evening was drawing to a close, Dean Taylor asked if I would stay to assist her in cleaning up and I knew that I was to oblige. It was at that time that she began to discuss my declining grades and that even though I was involved in many of the aspects of residence life (i.e., parties, student council, extramural teams, etc.), my tenure in residence would be terminated lest I bring up my grades to their pre-University levels. She gave me the next term to demonstrate my commitment to my studies, the University, and to New College. Her words, and the knowledge that she actually knew what and how we were doing, affected me to a greater degree than if my parents had delivered the same message. Of course I would succeed – failure was never an option for me, especially with Dean Taylor watching!
Was there anyone in particular at New College (staff, student or faculty) who had a strong influence on your life or made a lasting impression on you?
There were a number of strong women that influenced me during my time at New College and my future—Dean Audrey Taylor, along with Sally Walker and Norma Bliss (of the Registrar’s Office), and Sheelagh Piper (a Don of my first year floor from the Speech-Language Pathology graduate school program). These women helped to guide me, assist me in funding my dream of graduating from University (I was the first person on both sides of my family to attend any type of post-secondary education), encouraged me to try new things, to enter a very competitive graduate program, and above all, to become involved within the College community.
What are your major accomplishments and who had the most influence on your Career?
I hear others define my major accomplishments— establishing and running successful businesses; proposing to the provincial government (on behalf of Autism Ontario) the Ontario Intensive Behaviour Intervention program, thereby enabling Ontario children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to obtain government-funded evidence-based treatment; and being the first speech-language pathologist in Ontario to obtain dual-credentialing as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
However, I feel that my most important major accomplishment is yet unrealized; I have not relented in my quest for evidence-based and ethical treatment for individuals with ASD to become the norm and that which captures the spotlight within mass media.
Who has had the most influence on my career is a much easier question to answer. My husband, Paul, also a New College graduate, has been there to support and encourage me in every new venture. He has suffered for it with many nights, weeks, and weekends as a ‘single parent’ while I stayed late at the office or studied for yet another exam or met with a family about their child. I am very fortunate to have his unwavering support so that I may achieve my goals while also having the family and home that is also so important to me.
In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to seeing my children realise their dreams as they embark on careers that, hopefully, are also hobbies for them. I am looking forward to continuing to learn, to change, and to mentor others who want to make significant contributions within the fields of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behaviour Analysis for their clients.
Do you have any final comments?
New College remains an integral part of my family. The friendships and bonds formed within those walls continue to shape my life and by extension the lives of many others. The academic and social richness of continuing to interact and be involved with the College is certainly one that has made a difference in my life. Strong alumni involvement enables us to pay-it-forward and give back at the same time.