Features archive

A Day in the Life: Debbie Robinson

The Ring, January 25, 2013

Written by: Kim Westad, Staff, Faculty of Human and Social Development

Debbie Robinson knows a thing or two about stage fright—the 20-year veteran of local community theatre faces it every time she sings or acts in a new production. But Robinson also knows that as the show goes on, the teamwork and preparation kick in and the stage fright fades. And she applies the same strategy to the changing nature of her job as a program assistant in the School of Child and Youth Care.


When the mother of three returned to the work force at the University of Victoria in 1994, she used a typewriter, classes were in buildings and she had limited computer skills.

Now, Robinson’s job is dramatically different. Robinson calls herself a “modern secretary,” building sites for online classrooms, updating them continuously and facing new technological challenges on a regular basis.

“The learning curve was very steep—like this,” Robinson says, putting her arm straight up in the air.

When it seems overwhelming, Robinson breaks the program down just as she’s done for the dozen plays she’s performed in.
“I might have choreography, music and lines to learn. As a whole, it can feel overwhelming, so I break it down into smaller pieces and then put it back together again,” Robinson says.

“When we’re going through a time of change in the office, I tap into that same process.”

Robinson loves the sense of teamwork in a production, and in her work. The three other program assistants in the office are good friends. They’re also among her biggest fans.

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Mapping the Art of Mentorship

The Ring, September 10, 2012

Written by: John Threlfall, Communications and Special Projects Officer


Given that I’ve worked on campus for less than two years, it was a surprise to be asked to participate in UVic’s Mentoring Program. But when 18-year campus veteran Sandra Curran applied to the program, I turned out to have all the skills she wanted in a mentor. "I was looking to spend time with someone working in a creative position on campus, and to find opportunities to add creativity to my job," says Curran, who has spent much of the past decade as the graduate secretary for the School of Child and Youth Care.

After her initial interview with Human Resources Consultant and Mentoring facilitator Jolie Wist, I was approached about acting as Curran’s mentor. While I was uncertain exactly what I could contribute, I did seem to fit the creativity bill—as anyone who’s ever visited my eclectically decorated office can attest. But it was more likely my position as special projects and communications officer with the Faculty of Fine Arts that sealed the deal. Yet it quickly became clear that, regardless of our official roles as mentor and mentee, Curran and I would be learning from each other—which fit in perfectly with the program’s goals.

“The Mentoring Program is designed to be both structured and unstructured, which means the pairs decide what works best between them,” Wist explains, noting that only about 10 of the average 30 people who apply annually are chosen for the three-year-old program.“It's so specific to each pair—what their interests are, how much time they have and how their relationship evolves and unfolds."

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Day in the life: Katherine Woodhouse
Katherine Woodhouse
A day in the life of Katherine Woodhouse is mostly tasked with bringing order to things. On any given day, Woodhouse is at the center of the action—whether she’s wearing the distinguished hat of Chief Marshal for Convocation, donning a safety vest as her building’s emergency coordinator or harmonizing budgets, human resources and assorted paperwork for the School of Child and Youth Care (CYC).

"I was recently asked to come up with a symbol for how I would represent myself in my department," explains Woodhouse. "I chose a tapestry; a kind of web that weaves between every activity that is going on and touches every person’s work in some way. That's how I can best sum it up."

Day in the life: Katherine Woodhouse.

Graduate aims to help children on her reserve

Lila Underwood
Lila Underwood has always known that she would work with kids. Before coming to UVic, Underwood was a teaching assistant at Bayside Middle School.

"When I was a teaching assistant I found that many of my kids would come to me with social/emotional issues that were getting in the way of their ability to learn. Once I helped them with these issues they improved academically," explains Underwood.

These experiences, along with encouragement from Bayside staff, convinced Underwood to enroll in the child and youth care program. Coming to UVic allowed her to continue living on the Pauquachin reserve, which was very important to her, but also sometimes difficult.

"The challenge for me was living in two different worlds. We have our own beliefs, values and customs on the reserve, which sometimes clash with university culture. For example, when we have a death in the community everyone stops what they’re doing to help the family in mourning. Being a student I couldn’t always be there for my community because of deadlines and other responsibilities. This was hard for me and for my community, but I had to make sacrifices," explains Underwood.

Despite the challenges, Underwood had very positive experiences at UVic. "I never felt uncomfortable or that I couldn’t have a voice," she says. "I was part of a core group of students who stayed together throughout the program. We formed a real sense of community and this sense of belonging was really important to me."

Underwood is now working as the Education Manager for the Pauquachin First Nation, where she hopes to help more youth graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary education.