Quinquennial, adj. and n.: Continuing for, or covering a period of, five years; holding office for five years.
After five years as an assistant and now associate mathematics professor at Victoria College and being our Quality Enhancement Plan director (which is a five year plan all to itself), I’ve recently been reflecting on things one can do inside of five years. Pardon me, I really shouldn’t say ‘one,’ rather, what we can do inside of five years. Let me tell you a story about us. Afterwards, I really hope you’ll share some stories about us, too.
A few years back, a family member of mine had some major medical treatments that included surgery. Thanks to accumulated leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), I was able to fly off to be there, to sit at a hospital bedside and double check prescription dosages, to drive to and from follow ups and treatments, to doll out medications and change up bandages. I was of course very thankful to Victoria College, my department chair, dean, vice president, and human resources department for taking on my lectures, my work, and the paperwork for all of this. As I recall, I sent one email and signed a paper or two and I was traveling away on my mission. Throughout a very long two weeks – two weeks – I never worried if my job was waiting for me. I didn’t worry about if I’d have food on the table. My paycheque stayed the same.
I remember that I left on that journey on a Thursday afternoon. I remember because I taught my last class Thursday, and a student stopped me to ask some questions. Mathematics was challenging for that student, and I commented how I was glad this student was asking questions because that is the way to learn. My student knew I was going to be gone for a bit and took the time to wish me well on my journey. (I hadn’t told my students why I’d be gone. I was old fashioned that way I suppose). Then my student shared a story with me. This student had a child, who was often ill. After the most recent emergency room visit, my student had lost their job because of too many call-ins. (Well, one of their jobs was lost, as it took two part time jobs to keep a roof and food in ready supply). Plus, this student went to school here at VC!
I wanted more for my student. I wanted my student to have what I had. And, I had what I had only because I was both terribly fortunate and highly educated.
I teach, and I believe in higher education because every student who gains and masters essential skills and competencies becomes a very powerful advocate for themselves. The work of Victoria College is the work of making our students so qualified and so skilled that they can’t be fired just because a child is often ill. The benefit of Victoria College is making significant economic impacts in the lives of our students.
I was trying to quantify that impact, and a degree from VC is apparently worth about $10,000 per year (roughly) per student. Of course, that doesn’t count things like FMLA and dismemberment insurance. Now, education isn’t about just financial metrics or even well-being metrics. It’s about incandescent thinking and personal triumphs. It’s about pottery bowls being filled with soup from local area business owners who have clean water because of environmental sanitation filtration techniques that help feed the hungry.
That Thursday, I had a family member waiting. I had only a moment to briefly answer and to listen (although later in an airport I had another moment to answer an email, too). That moment was time well spent, even though right before I was very focused on getting on the road to catch my flight.
So, what are your moments? What stories touched your lives the most? What is most memorable in the last five years? And, what do you dream for us in the next five?