Core values fuel Saanich officer's lifelong learning

Human and Social Development

- Kate Hildebrandt

Distance education program serves the needs of busy professionals—even those who live close to campus 

Asking Andy Stuart about his aspirations as a child, he recalls spending many hours playing with a specific group of Lego blocks while growing up in Gordon Head. “The police station was my favorite.”

Later, in his teens, he met and fell in love with his future wife, Andrea. Her father was a police officer and for him, that sealed the deal. “It wasn’t exactly the coolest thing to say in high school you wanted to be a police officer, but Andrea’s dad inspired me.”

Stuart also found inspiration at home; both parents have graduate degrees and encouraged him to invest in education at an early age. “I always enjoyed learning,” he says. Now a police sergeant with more than 14 years of decorated service—including a Meritorious Honour Award from the Lieutenant Governor—Stuart graduates this month with a master’s degree in public administration.

Stuart’s postsecondary career began in criminal justice at Camosun College, followed by a BA in sociology from UVic. He joined the Saanich Police Department in 2001 as a uniform patrol officer and went on to serve with the child abuse investigations team for three years. “This was by far the most rewarding work of my career because I felt I was truly making a difference in the lives of children and their families.” 

Commitment to family remains Stuart’s priority, with two young sons in elementary school and active in local sports. His daughter attends university in Florida on a rowing scholarship. 

Stuart wanted to complete his graduate studies as well—but was unsure how to fit in studies with work and home life.

After extensive research, he found what he needed at UVic. “The online public admin program was well-recognized,” he says, and the distance education model was ideal for managing shift work and young children at home.

He didn’t always enjoy the writing, however. “Returning to university after more than 10 years of police work, let’s just say my professors challenged me to write in a more concise and clear way.” Stuart’s ‘aha’ moment came when he realized, “the economy of writing was essential to my being successful.” 

What better way to master one’s technique than by entering a writing contest—and winning? Stuart tied for second place in UVic’s 2013 Diversity Writing Contest. His essay, “Diversity, Equality and Inclusion” argued that these three core values are interrelated and can’t thrive independently. 

It’s analogous to the way a close family, happy home, promising career, and a safe community can make for the best life, explains Stuart. “I grew up in the same house where my parents live today. I see the many benefits of living in Victoria and raising a family here—to an extent where I’ve never considered living anywhere else.”

His parents instilled in him, too, a belief that education of any kind was important for building a broader perspective in life. “This degree has definitely helped me reach that goal, to achieve that deeper understanding, and to prepare for career advancement.”


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Keywords: distance education, public administration, writing, student life, convocation

People: Andy Stuart

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