This month’s humans of ACE blog profiles Rhianna Nagel. Rhianna currently works out of UVic’s Division of Learning, Teaching, and Innovation as the community engaged learning (CEL) coordinator. In her role, she works with community, students, staff and instructors to develop opportunities that enhance student learning and community initiatives. This involves building capacity, supporting curricular development, strategic planning, matchmaking between intended learning outcomes and community interests, managing grants, sharing and celebrating efforts and achievements, and fostering reciprocal relationships.

Rhianna’s journey began with participating in Canada World Youth, a program which provides youth with an opportunity to learn about other communities and cultures, at age 18. Rhianna says the experience instantly convinced her of the value of Community-Engaged Learning. She received a B.Sc from the Land and Food Systems program at UBC and an MA from the Community-Based Research Lab in Geography at UVic. Before moving to her current role she coordinated CEL in the Faculty of Social Sciences at UVic. She also spent time living between Canada and Uruguay farming and working with community groups on a range of initiatives which were generally related to social and ecological well-being.  She, in part, credits her professional development with working with mentors at the former UVic institute for Studies and Innovation in Community-University Engagement.

Rhianna cites the greatest professional challenge she overcame as letting go of misconceptions about professional life-what it means and its trajectory. Her coworkers would describe her as passionate, reassuring, energetic, and warm. The aspects of her job she most enjoys are the people she works with and learning about the things they do, both big and small, at UVic or in their community. The best piece of career advice she ever received, from a number of people, is “don’t give up!”

Rhianna enjoys camping and canoeing adventures with her husband, son, and two daughters. She is always up for dancing, biking, swimming or playing a board game (she has a particular fondness for boggle). In addition to her work at UVic Rhianna is the chair of the board of LifeCycles, a Victoria based organization that cultivates community health by connecting people with the food they eat and the land it comes from.