Learning comes full circle for counsellor

Human and Social Development

- Kate Hildebrandt

Kouri. Credit: Supplied

As Scott Kouri prepares to walk across UVic’s convocation stage for the third time in 10 years this November, odds are he will embrace his grand finish as he would a new beginning.

Such is the circular nature of a rewarding academic life—you learn, you grow, you teach, your students learn, they grow, they teach, and on it goes. The Ring Road. The Ring newspaper. The circle of learning is what life at UVic is all about.

Kouri has now completed his BA (2011), MA (2014) and now PhD (2019) with UVic’s School of Child and Youth Care while working as a counsellor and instructor. Married with three sons, he acknowledges his family in his research papers, thanking them for their love and support and for giving him time to study.

Scott Kouri sits his son on a beach
Kouri and son. Credit: Supplied

One of a kind student

Kouri’s graduate supervisor Sandrina de Finney supported his work through two graduate programs, describing him as “by far one of the most scholarly and intellectually agile students I have ever supervised; his capacity to read, think, generate, apply and work across literatures, frameworks and theoretical histories is impressive. He is incredibly productive as a writer and scholar and also deeply generous in his engagement with others in communities of practice and scholarship.”

De Finney adds, “during his PhD examinations, Scott completed four highly impressive examination papers—two more than what was expected by his committee.”

She further notes he won more than 10 scholarships and published as many papers—with two more pending review—and presented at eight national and international conferences.

To be fair, Scott explains, he hasn’t always been this driven.

When I left Montreal. I had no idea what I would do with my life.
School of Child and Youth Care graduate, Scott Kouri

A move to the west

He came west in 2005. A third-generation English-Lebanese man, Kouri was lured by a glorious island coastline with so much dense forest. “I had no idea what career I’d pursue.” Kouri clarifies he was preoccupied, not aimless, having broken with family tradition by leaving a promising profession for a road less travelled.

“My family is immersed in commerce,” he explains. “My older brother is a banker. I was good at math and so it was assumed I would go into commerce, too.”

But he didn’t.

Instead, he made British Columbia his home. After his first son was born, a friend recommended Kouri for a job with the Fairfield community pre-school program, which turned out to be a great gift.

“I was there for about five years,” he recalls, noting how much he enjoyed the work. He’d previously worked in child care and was keen on understanding how young minds develop. Staff encouraged him to learn more about the sector.

“In fact, they literally held the door open for me to go to university.” He remembers himself then as a somewhat rudderless 23-year-old dad just trying to figure things out.

There was a deep interest, he remembers, in wanting to learn more about fatherhood. It was a calling more than a career choice, Kouri says—and the study and practice of child and youth care remain now as they were then, deeply satisfying work.

Scott Kouri smiles on a beach
Kouri. Credit: Supplied.

A decade at UVic

For that alone, Kouri says he owes a debt of gratitude to his teachers. “The professors challenged me as a person, taught me a new understanding of myself, of my privilege. I learned how to be critically challenged and was supported to safely explore how to serve the greater good.”

Looking back on his 10 years at UVic, Kouri wants to be accountable to those who spent years teaching him. “I have a responsibility,” he says, “to further their efforts.”

He now teaches with the School of Child and Youth Care and is waiting to hear about a research grant which, if it comes through, will help him look at the intersections of mental health and climate change across youth populations. He also continues to work in a private counselling practice.

Kouri’s centre, around which everything else turns, is enabling students—providing affordable counselling services and connecting across many audiences, “with a focus placed on young adults.”

Just as a circle with no beginning and no end becomes complete, Scott has found his whole self within education and practice. He is happy and grateful to live this learning life. He wants to support young people as he was once supported. And he has made a promise to be accountable for his learning upon which he is determined to make good.


In this story

Keywords: convocation, graduate

Publication: The Ring

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