From a curious, athletic girl to a university grad working for children’s advocacy, Angela Werner has been helping things run smoothly for a long time.
“Many on campus are not aware of Angela’s role in convocation because she does it so quietly and diligently,” says Allison Hector-Alexander, director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusions and Transitions at Durham College.
Werner oversees all aspects of convocation, one of the biggest events on campus. In 2018, there were five ceremonies in spring and one in the fall. According to Werner, approximately 5,000 students graduate, with about 500 students crossing the stage at each ceremony.
Werner is Durham College’s Executive Assistant to the Executive Director/Registrar, Strategic Enrolment Services at Durham College – a title she herself acknowledges as very long.
She studied psychology at Brock University where she earned an honours degree before getting her masters at the University of Toronto.
She did multiple placements through school, including the Canadian Mental Health Association drop-in clinic in St. Catharines, as well as a placement with the City of Toronto helping community organizations help write grant proposals.
“It was a very eye-opening experience,” she says. “It was a very interesting part of my education.”
Werner says she moved away from a clinical focus as she found the work too emotionally overwhelming.
“I didn’t feel I was as helpful in that area because I took a lot of stuff home with me,” she says. “I feel like being able to help in a little bit of a different way was just better for me personally.”
She found her way to Durham by looking for a local job. She says it made sense to stop “fighting traffic every day.”
Every year, Werner says she likes to “do something different” and takes on new projects.
Recently, she worked on a project to track and review what communications students were receiving in various Student Affairs departments with the goal of streamlining content, preventing information overload.
Angie Paisley, Executive Assistant to the vice-president of Student Affairs, and Melissa Bosomworth, Wellness Coach, were the two other staff members involved in the project.
“It was a sort of different project to keep it interesting and moving forward,” Werner says with a chuckle. “There’s always another project that comes up, and that’s what I really like about this role.”
Werner loves her job because of DC’s students.
“The most wonderful thing about being at the college is the students,” she says. “Every time there’s a new group of students starting, you can feel their excitement and their hope. It’s the best thing about working at the college.”
As a first generation Canadian from a Jamaican family, education was not only highly important to Ashley Marshall, it became a lifelong pursuit.
“I’m a thinker, I’m an academic,” Marshall says. “My version of education is get this degree, then the next highest degree, then the next highest degree.”
Marshall’s grandmother came to Canada with her five children from Jamaica to provide them with a better life. Marshall says she grew up with a sense of responsibility to be successful.
“Education and the pursuit of knowledge was always an expectation, it wasn’t a choice,” she says. “I have to be exceptional and I have to work twice as hard.”
However, Marshall says her mother assured her she was smart.
“I always knew I wanted to be smart. I wanted to be recognized for my ability to think,” she says. “That’s all I knew.”
She pursued an English degree in the hopes of becoming a lawyer. During her degree, she fell in love with English and writing then pursued a degree with McMaster for sociology but later changed course, switching to English and Cultural Studies.
“It just lit my world on fire,” she says. “I’m a black person, I’m a woman, I’m also working class, I’m also able-bodied, I’m also heterosexual, I’m also in my 20s. All those different things you can look at from multiple intersections.”
Marshall eventually found a place at Durham College shortly after a political campaign job came to an end. She teaches communications, a job she loves because there is a “finesse to communicating.”
In 2018, Marshall presented at the Black Portraitures colloquium on African American culture hosted by Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
This experience inspired her and her mentor, Allison Hector-Alexander, to create the Black Student Success Network at DC.
“Blackness comes with unique challenges,” Marshall says. “We started a network where people understand your identity.”
“Life can be fair or unfair but you just do the best you can and you don’t allow roadblocks.”
Moreen Fearon-Tapper, Dean of Teaching, Learning and Program Quality at Durham College, says she was taught by her parents when she was young to not give up and always do her best: a lesson she still follows to this day.
Her mom, Inez Fearon, is one of her biggest inspirations.
“She inspired all of us as children to be our best self,” she says. “My mother was the type that when we were all going through school, she would sit up with us while we stayed up till 2 a.m. working on an assignment.”
The lessons her mom taught her are similar to the advice Fearon-Tapper has for her two children.
Along with being the best version of themselves, she says girls should be fearless, take time to learn things, take a leap of faith, have confidence and be open to where things will take them.
“There are very few jobs per se that I intentionally set out from the start of my career that ‘this is what I want to be’,” says Fearon-Tapper. “What I did was I did the best possible job, even when I worked at McDonald’s I was the best cashier. You can transfer that anywhere.”
Born in England, Fearon-Tapper moved to Canada when she was an infant. She grew up in downtown Toronto and Scarborough.
It was here where she went from Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute to The University of Toronto to study political science and sociology.
She worked at the Michener Institute, an academic institution devoted to applied health sciences education, for four years, and then Centennial College for 12. This year marks 13 years at DC .
“I don’t see being a woman in this field to be a barrier…I actually see it as an asset,” she says. “Not to generalize or stereotype but … inherent in us as women is that nurturer, that caring.”
Fearon-Tapper has dedicated her career to teaching, supporting and helping others. She says her position in the Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment (C.A.F.E.) makes it possible to support staff and through that, she supports students.
“The people and the impact … is why I love my job,” she says. “We’re really lucky and I work with absolutely fabulous people, they’re so talented and dedicated.”
“I grew up in Oshawa actually. I went to elementary school, high school and college. I went to Durham College.”
Linda Flynn, associate vice-president for the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at DC, is not only proud to be an alumni of the public relations (PR) program here, but to be an employee as well.
After working in PR for non-profit organizations, such as United Way and the Children’s Wish Foundation for 30 years, Flynn came back to where it all began. Her DC diploma hangs proudly in her office at Campus Corners.
“This job came up and it really married all of the skills and experience that I’ve gained over the 30 years and so I applied for the job and got it,” she says, adding if she had to pick a legacy to leave here at DC, it would be that she “provided the support to move projects along, projects that help students. So whether it’s capital projects like the new (CFCE) building or engaging our alumni as mentors for students.”
Flynn hasn’t stopped her learning just because she’s a graduate though. She is currently working on her Masters of Arts in leadership through Royal Roads University.
She decided to start the program when her five children were done university and says, “it’s a subject matter that I am very interested in and it’s just the right time in my life.”
Flynn has many inspirations in her job but the people she works with are what makes the job enjoyable.
“I am inspired by the team I work with,” she says. “I work with some very hard-working, dedicated women.”
ANA BELEN JIMENEZ
“There has been a lot of moving and changes and adapting to different cultures growing up but my parents have done an excellent job at maintaining Chilean culture in my family.”
Ana Belen Jimenez, international project support officer for the International Office, is in a fitting position considering her background.
Originally from Chile, her family moved to Sweden when she was two. Three years later, they found themselves in Canada, where she has grown up.
“My parents, they are the cornerstone, they are the foundation. My family is like a little tribe and I think being immigrants and feeling isolated has kind of made us quite a solid unit,” Belen Jimenez says.
She says her parents upheld Chilean traditions, such as speaking Spanish and certain cultural values, in their household when she was growing up which made her and her family very close.
“Their lifelong mission is to enable us, their children, to be successful and to shine,” she says. “I hope I can do that for my kids as they get older, to give even a sliver of that support that my parents gave to me.”
Her parents always encouraged her and her siblings, which ultimately led to her taking marketing and advertisement program at Centennial College.
Afterwards, she worked for the City of Toronto’s Tourism Board for seven years, where her natural talent for mediating shone.
She says when she was in school growing up she always took to the liaison role in groups instead of being the leader.
Now, Belen Jimenez coordinates international projects at DC.
“I see myself as a facilitator in encouraging staff to engage these projects,” she says.
Belen Jimenez recently coordinated the partnership between DC and Kenya for the Kenya Education for Employment Plan. The project connects colleges in Kenya with institutes in Canada to help revise the curriculum to a more hands-on approach.
“Durham has an incredible amount of skilled, inter-culturally savvy and driven faculty and staff that really want to make a difference not just at Durham but abroad,” she says.