NEWS
Four researchers awarded Canada Research Chairs
Law and education profs win inaugural awards
Vikes clinch national field hockey title – again!
Crafty ideas
UVic, East China university exchange turns 20
UVic ranks near top in new surveys
Be a leader for the United Way
Women rowers make it six in a row
Business/economics scholar named top co-op student
Focus on flowers
At the Phoenix Theatres
 
FALL CONVOCATION
The rite stuff
Convocation fast facts
Professional wrestling is theatre
Going back to school pays off
Young at art
Eavesdropping on the universe
Creating a monster and a career
 
FEATURES
Distinguished professorships
Getting the strait goods
 
COLUMNS
Around the ring

New faculty

Newsmakers
Ringers

Back from the brink: “Going back to school pays off, believe me.”

Living an unfocused life as a Grade 10 drop-out in Sudbury, Ontario, Andrea Paquette was initially happy to leave the structure of classrooms and homework behind. Her crowd, by her own admission, was “destructive, and when I started seeing a lot of my friends getting in trouble with the law and the girls getting pregnant I thought ‘I can do better than this.’”

PaquettePaquette has indeed done better. This week she graduates from UVic with a double major in political science and women’s studies, is working as a research officer with the provincial government and has applied to the school of public administration to complete her master’s degree.

She was only 16 when she came to Vancouver Island to live briefly with her mother. Paquette enrolled in high school in Campbell River, worked part-time, received some government assistance to room with three others and started pulling down good marks—good enough to join the scholarship club at CARIHI Secondary School.

“There was a counsellor there who went to bat for me. Everybody thinks when you drop out of high school you’re done. But going back to school pays off, believe me.”

Attending university with several scholarships, Paquette was selected by the political science department to participate in its co-op option. “I’m definitely an advocate for the program. An eight-month work term in government put everything I’d been learning in perspective and that’s when I started to get those ‘A’s.”

While impressed with several of her professors, she singles out Dr. Warren Magnussen for praise. “He’s so approachable. He gets your mind into an analytical mode—thinking without crutches—so that you’re able to contribute your knowledge and perspective, not regurgitating someone else’s thoughts.”

Magnussen returns the praise. “She’s a very determined young woman who came to university with skills that needed to be developed. But she was very committed and I saw dramatic improvement. Andrea worked very hard and didn’t shy away from challenge.”

Paquette’s interest in Magnussen’s third-year urban politics course, requiring students to attend council meetings, spread beyond coursework. She’s assisting on the Esquimalt mayoralty campaign of Connie McCann and is considering a political future.

“Right now I’m interested in carving out a career in the government so I can learn about how the various departments are linked and how they operate, but in the long-term I want to get into the political side of things,” she says.

“Life takes you on a path,” adds Paquette, clearly delighted with the one she’s taken, “and you just have to go with it.”

(Joy Poliquin photo)