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Carla Loewen, Student Advisor, Indigenous Student Centre. // Photos by David Lipnowski

Meet Our Community: Coffee with a Co-Worker

Carla Loewen on being a part of our campus community

February 5, 2018 — 

UM Today sat down with Carla Loewen, student advisor, Indigenous Student Centre, to interview her for the Meet Our Community:Coffee with a Co-Worker series.

The regular series celebrates our faculty and staff, showcasing the range of positions, unique career paths, meaningful work and impact on others at the University of Manitoba. The series might open the door to someone new, or be an inspiration to those who want to build their career at the U of M.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE U OF M?

Carla Loewen: I currently work as a student advisor at the Indigenous Student Centre. I started advising with University 1 in 2005 and began working at the Indigenous Student Centre in January 2015. My primary focus is to create and facilitate transition programming for new Indigenous students.

 

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE U OF M?

I did two undergraduate degrees here and then did some work in adult education and decided I wanted a change. I thought about what I really loved and I loved being at the U of M, so I started job searching and after four months I was lucky enough to be hired by University 1.

 

WHAT MADE YOU PURSUE STUDENT ADVISING?

I have my B.Ed. degree and I always really liked working with older students and liked the idea of working with post secondary students. I felt that my education fits the role of being a student advisor.

My passion is also Indigenous student success so when I started working here I thought about what I would have liked in terms of support when I was a student because I was a shy kind of student. So everything came together in terms of wanting to help Indigenous students find their home here.

I love the community that is on campus, particularly with all of my colleagues and peers in various offices. I feel that the U of M is very supportive of  staff getting to know others and making connections. It’s not just about doing your role, it’s about becoming part of the campus community.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WORKING AT THE U OF M?

I love the community that is on campus, particularly with all of my colleagues and peers in various offices. I feel that the U of M is very supportive of  staff getting to know others and making connections. It’s not just about doing your role, it’s about becoming part of the campus community.

I also really like the opportunities for professional development. When I started my Masters of Education I knew there was tuition support, which was a great help.

 

WHAT HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ABILITIES DURING YOUR TIME HERE?

Every student and situation is unique so I found that I’m a really great listener, whether it’s a student, colleagues or friends. It’s made me into a better conversationalist but I’m probably too good at asking questions because I know how to get people talking about anything but me. (Laughter)

 

WHAT IS YOUR LARGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR ROLE?

Every day is different in terms of seeing students, going to meetings or participating in working groups, so it’s a challenge to sit down and  do project management because there are so many things to do on a daily basis. 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?

It’s those ‘aha!’ moments when students who have been struggling with course work or weren’t sure what they wanted and then they [realize], “Oh, I can actually do this.” I love those moments so much. I really just love helping students find their path.

 

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR U OF M CAREER?

I developed a peer mentoring program in University 1. It was an Indigenous program where I matched first year Indigenous students with more experienced Indigenous students. When I moved to the Indigenous Student Centre, I took the program with me. Because of my interest in peer mentoring and belief in peer support, I turned it into my Master’s thesis project. I looked at student development theory and how peer mentoring can be related to first year Indigenous student success. Which is now what I do full-time, so my work has come full circle. That’s pretty amazing.

 

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO A NEW EMPLOYEE?

You know, I’m all about mentoring!  I encourage others to find a mentor to go to for advice, support and encouragement — or even so they can say “hey you’re doing a great job!”

 

To learn more about the Indigenous Student Centre, visit their website.  

For additional Meet Our Community:Coffee with a Co-Worker stories, visit the human resources website.

 

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