"I came to Shawnigan in Grade 9 to play hockey. I thought hockey was going to be my entire life at the School, but it turned out to be one of the smallest things. I very quickly realized how much was available to me at the School, and I found multiple interests here including the fine arts and even other sports.
“I would say that I am someone who leads by example, that I am hard working, and that I am not a man of many words. But when I speak, I hope my words are short and to the point, and most importantly, are remembered. I like to connect with people. I enjoy meeting individually and in small groups to help strengthen connections. Being a coach has helped me get used to speaking in front of bigger groups and getting everyone on the same page, and that is something that transfers to the House, and getting the boys to buy in to how the House is going to be run.
"I always hoped that somewhere down the road the opportunity would arise to work at a boarding school. What attracted me to working in boarding was the idea that we are all in. That’s what I love about Shawnigan – everyone is all in, all the time. It’s not a Monday to Friday, 9:00am-3:00pm school. It’s a seven days a week, 24 hours a day community. At Shawnigan, we have developed a culture that is so strong, and that is only achieved through the boarding experience.
"I am so thankful for everything that has been offered to me during my time at Shawnigan, because those experiences are what shaped me into who I am today.
In my opinion, Shawnigan does something really well that a lot of other schools don’t do. Other schools will just take kids in, give them an education and give them the mandatory skills to go on with their life. Shawnigan takes in kids and not only gives them an education but also teaches them how to become a better person and become the best version of themselves. I learned the values and the responsibilities of being a good global citizen — someone who will honor responsibility, respect, selflessness and that willingness to help others and put others before yourself.
"I have always loved teaching, and I have never had a better job then I have now. So I am finishing with the best job ever – how lucky is that?
I first worked at Shawnigan from 1988-1991, after I came back from Japan. That first year was super interesting, as it was the first year that Shawnigan went co-ed. I have some great memories of the School during those three years.
I was 26 years old when I started working at Shawnigan. It felt weird to be back at the School where I had been a student. Having colleagues who had recently been my teachers was definitely odd at first. But, they were great to me, and made the transition so easy.
"When I arrived in September of my grade 8 year, I was so happy to be here. I was nervous, but the excitement overpowered the nerves quickly. Even though I quickly became very busy at Shawnigan, and was pulled in many different directions, I never felt too overwhelmed because I felt like I was given the tools to succeed and had an amazing support network surrounding me that helped to make everything possible. That has continued all the way to today.
"My childhood memories of growing up on campus are just magical; I only remember good things. Growing up on this campus was like living in a magical kingdom in many ways. And it’s no different now. I watch the staff children run around campus, riding their bikes, building forts – it was exactly the same way for me.
"Shawnigan is beyond a regular high school experience.
Shawnigan was my dream school, as it had everything I could ever want, through its focus on academics, fine arts, athletics, and most importantly, the community aspect that I was so badly seeking. But I never thought of it as an option.
"Shawnigan becomes such a huge part of your life. We spend 10 months out of the year living, breathing and sleeping the Shawnigan lifestyle alongside our very best friends. In this challenging time, as one of the School leaders, I see one of my most important responsibilities as helping to maintain the incredible community feeling we have. Even though we may not be here physically, that doesn’t mean we don’t care. We will always be here for you.
My parents are originally from Nigeria, born and raised. They moved to Ireland before I was born, and I am an Irish citizen who now lives in Canada. When I was younger, I rejected my Nigerian side because I couldn’t understand the culture, even though my parents were so proud of their Nigerian roots. It was especially hard because I had been raised around Irish and Canadian culture, which is very different to Nigerian culture. When my grandparents came to visit, I didn’t understand some of the things they said and did and wanted me to do, and I turned my back on a lot of the things that they tried to teach me. When I was younger, I definitely wasn’t proud of my Nigerian roots, and looking back now I am sad about that and I am sorry because I know it was probably hard for my parents, seeing me reject my roots.
"When I was a student at Shawnigan, I had a music teacher named Dave Gueulette. He was extremely supportive of me and everything that I did. He always supported me 100% in the music that I was writing and performing and in the different bands that I formed. He was adamant that I branch out to other instruments. I was never particularly interested in learning other instruments, but he was always pushing me that one step further because he knew it would make me a better musician. It was a wonderful balance of him pushing me to do things that I never would have thought to do, and giving me the opportunities to make the music that was in my heart.
"My school in Nepal is called Shree Mangal Dvip and it has a connection with Shawnigan because the school director is from Canada. I am now the third student from my school who has received a scholarship to attend Shawnigan.
"I have been the head nurse for 14 years. The clinic has always been a safe place for kids to come. Often it will start off with a student saying they have a headache or aren’t feeling well, but sometimes after talking further you find out that they are having a bad day, or they are dealing with something, or are struggling, and therefore the clinic is often a place for students to come and blow off steam or be heard in a safe and comfortable environment without fear of repercussions.
"I was playing hockey at a local arena while I tried to find a better program to compete in. Then, when Shawnigan started their hockey program, my brother got the opportunity to go, and I knew that I would follow in my brother’s path.
Shawnigan Lake School is a co-educational boarding school on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The school is home to nationally-ranked academics, arts and athletics, with 100 per cent of graduates accepted to university.