Author/Interviewer: Nina Bennett

Preamble: As part of the Humans of ACE Project, I have been invited to reflect on my journey in the field and my service to ACE-WIL. It has been exciting to take the time and think about how I have got here and what keeps me motivated in my work. Here it is!

Me: What inspired you to join this field? Where did you start and what has brought you here?

Nina: I was inspired to join this field by my own experience as a student. In high school and post-secondary, I was able to participate in community-engaged learning and it was transformative for me! The Urban Ethnographic Field School at the University of British Columbia (UBC) was an especially eye-opening and empowering experience. It made me want to make opportunities like these available to all students.

I started my career at St. Mark’s College as the Student Development Coordinator. I then worked at UBC, where I supported course and program development. I had the opportunity to learn so much there, by working with the Centre for Community Engaged learning as well as the Bachelor of Media Studies and Sociology. Since November 2020, I have been working at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) on developing Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programming.

Me: What are the highlights of your role(s) in the field?

Nina: The highlight that stands out for me has been connecting with new community partners and working with students. Over the last year, especially, I have been able to dedicate a lot of my time to going out into the community and meeting with possible partners. Building those meaningful partnerships has been so exciting! Also, this past year, getting to meet with the students in person again and seeing them out in the community was amazing!  The lack of connection over the pandemic had been hard, so I am so grateful that we are back to in-person learning.

Me: If you could give advice to your younger self, what would that be?

Nina: To try more things in post-secondary and not be in such a hurry. I was so focused on getting my degree done and becoming an “adult”. I wish I would have joined more clubs or participated in study abroad opportunities as I believe those would have opened new horizons for me.

Me: Where would you be when you are not in the office?

Nina: If I am not in the office, you can find me out in the community meeting with our partners, attending student presentations, or running workshops.  In my personal life, I love playing sports. You can find me playing field hockey and soccer. Also, I love live music. So, any chance I get to attend a concert that is where you would find me. I also have started taking Spanish lessons as I’m fascinated by learning a new language.

Me: If you could be a character in any book, which character would you be?

Nina: I have been reading a lot of non-fiction works lately, so I thought more about who inspires me… For example, I am inspired by Danny Wallace in “Yes Man”. I think the idea of challenging yourself constantly, having an open mind, and having a sense of humor is simple yet powerful. It is written as a funny non-fiction account, but I found the lesson impactful.

Me: What is your role in ACE-WIL? What motivates you to volunteer?

Nina: My role is ACE WIL is Secretary and I sit on the Board of Directors representing Colleges and Institutes. ACE-WIL has been a great source of motivation and support for me. I am constantly inspired by all the work that the members are doing! It has also allowed me to develop a strong network and learn from others.

Concluding Remarks: I would encourage members to find ways to be involved in activities that are organized by the association. It is an amazing opportunity to meet new people, discover new ideas, and create partnerships.