Dr. Carol MacDonald

Dr. Carol MacDonald

I never aspired to a career as a nurse or a teacher. Well into adolescence, I imagined an adult life as a rural large animal veterinarian, or perhaps as a forest ranger in the Alberta Rockies. For many of us, however, life unfolds rather than following set plans or goals, and I find myself now retiring from paid employment as both a nurse and an academic. Neither of these endeavours were the limited, passive careers for women I had imagined them to be in childhood, although I do carry from childhood an enduring attachment to the well-being of animals of all sizes, and forests everywhere.

Without question, I have found meaning in my nursing career. Meaning arises from interpersonal relationships and issues of social justice; in other words, it arises from times I feel I can engage and make a difference about something that matters. This engagement has been central to the satisfaction of my work in mental health practice settings, research with LGBTQ people, teaching and learning with undergraduate and graduate students, and walking alongside Indigenous colleagues in the lifelong work of reconciliation.

As a well-educated white settler woman from a middle-class family who has access to many material resources, and who is now the recipient of monthly pension cheques, I am acutely aware of my privilege. While the unearned privilege of whiteness underpins the unfolding of this life, I know first-hand that mental illness and the challenges of a queer identity can profoundly and sometimes tragically alter the path of a life.

Early in my post-secondary education, through graduate studies, and later as an educator, I have come to see and to have deep respect for the ways in which education can better our lives. Coming to understand the lived experiences of others (central to hermeneutic phenomenology), whether through formal education, mentorship, or self-inquiry, expands the world and our ways of being in it.

I am grateful for the opportunities that connection with the University of Victoria has afforded me: to walk alongside others in their learning, to engage with new knowledge, and to expand my consciousness of ways of being in this always uncertain world.