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Student Success | Staff Updates

Niagara College International Staff Connect | April 2019

(Vol. 4, Issue 8)


Susan being honoured with a jazzchant at the EAP End-of-Term Celebration.

Committed, thoughtful, sparkling and caring. These were just some of the descriptive adjectives written on coloured pieces of paper that filled the room at the retirement celebration on April 9 of NC’s first full-time English as a Second Language teacher, Susan Vandenboom, whose last day at Niagara College is April 30.

Having an undergraduate degree in English and French, Vandenboom started out in the teaching world as a grade 7 and 8 French teacher, but after she and her husband spent two years in Japan teaching English, she decided to change career paths. While working as a summer English teacher at Fanshawe College in the summer of 1991, Vandenboom realized she wanted to teach English as a Second Language. Passing by the bulletin board at Fanshawe, she saw a positon vacancy for Niagara College. “I still have the original posting,” she shared. “I remember reading it from top to bottom and thought – I can do this. By the end of the posting, I was so excited and I recall thinking – that’s my job!”

At that time, there were only eight multi-level students studying ESL at NC from countries such as Taiwan, China, Japan, Greece and Hong Kong. The class grew to 12 students by Christmas of Vandenboom’s first year. In her early years of teaching, she recalled having two students who witnessed and escaped the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, China.

A memorable moment that stood out for Vandenboom was when she had a student writing in her school journal about her boyfriend, Joe. It was not until the end of the very last class that the student shared that her partner was female. “For several years afterwards, I invited one of my good friends, Bruce, who is gay, to have a question and answer period with my classes,” said Vandenboom. “I would review the questions the students submitted beforehand and Bruce would answer the students’ questions in class. Bruce was a great role model and I always had great feedback from those classes.” She shared that she always makes a conscious effort to provide diversity in race, sexuality and gender when teaching and using examples.

Back in 1991, most College communication was by phone or written memos. When she started at the College, she recalled having an electric typewriter and a few years later transitioned to a word processor. Vandenboom explained that she used to teach how to write a business letter and now teaches how to write an email. From typewriters to computers and phones, overhead projectors to document cameras and chalkboards to whiteboards – Vandenboom has witnessed the evolution of a plethora of education tools.

When asked what advice she would give herself in 1991, she shared it would be to relax because it will all get done in the end. Looking back at her career, Vandenboom imparted that one of the most valuable pieces of information she could give to current staff and faculty is the power of relationship-building activities in class. “It is important to continue to create opportunities where we can really get a sense of the other person - not just for each other’s differences, but really to see each other as fellow human beings,” she said.

She reflected on a memorial speech given by the son of former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who spoke to the definition a global citizen. “He said that being a global citizen is not about the number of stamps in your passport, but rather it is about completely embracing the common humanity of all of the world’s citizens,” Vandenboom explained. “This is a lesson that I have learned over the years from my students. If we can present opportunities where people can see our common humanity - how we all want and need the same basic things – it makes it possible to get past differences and see ourselves as people with so much in common.”

She further explained how International is an integral part of NC because it provides countless opportunities to Canadians, international students, staff and faculty to become more aware of the world and how the world works, allowing the NC community to become better global citizens. “Plus it is fun to learn about people from other countries and in turn, you learn more about yourself,” she shared.

When describing her professional development during her time at NC, she spoke to being able to travel and work as a recruiter in Japan, doing testing in China in the 1990s, and regularly attending TESL conferences. She also took advantage of two prepaid leaves to teach English in Brazil for five months and travel to New Zealand for three months with her family. “My world has become so much bigger through travel and also through the people I have met,” Vandenboom explained. “I have been so positively impacted by all of the great energy at NC– I feel like I have been nurtured here.”

After her retirement, she is planning to travel to Turkey for a wedding. Vandenboom also hopes to give back in some way and noted possibly doing volunteer work with Family and Children Services or with immigrants and refugees. On the family front, she plans to spend time with her father who just moved to Fonthill from Sarnia, her husband who recently retired last year and her daughter who will be in her final year of high school.

“Connecting with the students is my favourite part of teaching - getting to know them as individuals, seeing them progress in their English and becoming more independent and confident,” Vandenboom said. “I will miss these connections as well as the daily joy and inspiration I got from my co-workers and friends in the international department.”

Word from the Watercooler

  • During a family trip over March break to Florida, Shawna Luey held an alligator and said the was “happy that [she] didn’t choose to hold the tarantula.”
  • On Saturday April 27 the City of St. Catharines is hosting it's Spring Clean up/ Pitch-In Day. Jonathan Belgrave is volunteering Saturday morning at the Ontario Street and QEW exit. Residents of St. Catharines are encouraged to join in on the clean up activities. Visit for more details.


A message from Sean Kennedy, Vice President.

Over the past week, many of you have had your initial introduction and training sessions in Salesforce, an industry leading Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) tool, which has been implemented across many colleges and universities in Canada. This is an exciting time for international to move to an enterprise CRM and harness the power of its functionality for greater operational efficiencies, business intelligence, and data access and reporting for our work now and in the future. The College prioritized CRM implementation with International as a result of your collective hard work and the growth results that we have seen over the last years, and we are proud to lead the College in transitioning our existing systems into Salesforce.

As we work towards the integration of Salesforce into our daily operations across the Division, I wanted to provide an update on our approach and what individuals and work groups can expect over the coming months. As many of you know, the launch of Salesforce for International is behind initial timelines, due to the complexity of International operations and some gaps identified through user acceptance testing that needed to be addressed. The soft launch will now begin in mid-April, when users will start to integrate Salesforce into our daily operations. This phased-in approach will allow us to build our Salesforce knowledge and comfort using the system and progressively move functions into Salesforce as we go.

Our phased-in approach means that different departments across the division will expand the use and function of Salesforce into their operational procedures at varying rates. Each of our managers and working groups continue to assess how they can best phase the integration of Salesforce into their team’s work with a vision of Salesforce being our primary CRM system over the coming year. Please continue to work with your managers to provide input and ideas about how the power of Salesforce can support your team’s work.

As we move more of our processes from ISP and other systems to Salesforce, we will begin to see its significant benefits. Major system change is not without growing pains and I want to acknowledge that there will be some frustrations as we move forward into Salesforce. After the International division

integrates Salesforce as their CRM system, the college will be rolling out Salesforce to other areas. The lessons that we have learned, and will continue to learn as an early adopter of Salesforce, will be key to the success of future rollouts across the college. An integrated CRM is a big step forward for NC and International and I am truly pleased that this long-awaited soft launch is now imminent. Thank you in advance for your continued enthusiastic work to make this transition a great success.


Read more

You will find that the International website has been updated and staff and students can now view program availability online. We have also added a new application portal that allows applicants to view the admission requirements for the college based on the credential and the country that credential was issued from. This includes a pilot program for early and competitive admissions process that aligns with the requirements of a new program being launched by IRCC as well as taking into consideration academic preparedness. For those who are admitted under the competitive process, they will be provided with a new foundation program one month prior to the start of term. At this time, we do not have the complete details for the program but we will provide an update as that information is available. Lastly, I would like to thank the various teams and individuals who assisted in the consultation, feedback, development and implementation of the new process including admissions, marketing, IRT, finance, Shawna and Tina Matson.

Please feel free to look around however be aware that in some cases, a generic Canadian equivalency is provided for some countries as we are still developing the remaining criteria. You will also not that the formatting is not always consistent, this is being adjusted but will take a few weeks to complete. For program availability, click here

To see the new application portal and admission requirements, click here



Student Services

They will be 12 new Student Assistants starting their on-the-job training the week of Tuesday, April 9.  

If you see them working, please welcome them and introduce yours

Welland Campus: 

  • Lara from Brazil 

  • Deepika from India 

  • Nutta from Thailand 

  • Gerry from Albania 

  • Yan from China 

  • Yukari from Japan 

NOTL Campus: 

  • Olga from Ukraine 

  • Bruno from Brazil 

  • Dalsey from Brazil 

  • Francis from Nigeria 

  • Franklin (Aziz) from Cameroon 

  • Catherine from Philippines  

Read more

There are pre-arrival communications for May start post-sec and EAP students being sent out. It is a series of four emails providing students with information on orientation, academic conduct, what to expect, life in Niagara, checklists and much more. If you have questions about the newsletters, please contact International Marketing. 


In our roles at an educational institution, we work within the rules for personal privacy set out by Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).   

For more information on these laws and their impact to our work at NC: 

It is very important that given these laws, we proceed appropriately when someone is requesting information on a student.  A couple of simple tips on this to remember: 

  • obtain the student number first before answering any inquiry to determine through ISP if there is any note in the Communications Tab that could indicate a concern about inquiries for information on the individual  

  • look up the picture in PeopleSoft if the student is in front of you to verify their identity 

  • confirm the identity of the individual calling for the record and note your actions in ISP (eg. “student’s father called inquiring about student grades. Informed of FIPPA and told father we would reach out to student to connect with his father directly”)  

  • never provide information to an individual that is not the student without written consent from the student as per our college consent form 

  • remember that we know you are all trying to provide fast and helpful service, but it is Ok to slow down and assess the situation to be sure you have considered this piece 

  • If you have any questions to proceed, refer to a manager

Global Education & Partnerships

Rebecca Woolford, Business Development Officer has a name / email change 

Old – Rebecca Woolford, 

New – Rebecca Koudys,

Message from Dan Patterson: Spring Open House

Niagara College’s 2019 Spring Open House was held this past Saturday, March 23, and thanks to the passion and dedication of our faculty and staff, we once again hit it out of the park. 

As a key part of our recruitment cycle, the event provides prospective students and their families with an up-close look at our campuses and unique programs, and the opportunity to meet our expert faculty and staff. That personal experience is key in helping prospective students choose Niagara College, and highlights to the wider Niagara community the important role we play in the economic and cultural life of our region. 

Read more
Message from Dan Patterson: Join NC's Rankin Cancer Run team

Niagara College’s community spirit emerges each spring for the annual Rankin Cancer Run, and I hope you’ll take part this year on May 25. 

Year over year, it makes me proud to see so many staff, faculty, administrators, students and retirees come out to represent our College at this touching fundraiser, one which resonates with so many people in the Niagara region. In 2018, more than 80 individuals from NC participated.

Read more
Athletics and Recreation welcomes new staff member: Lindsay English

A message from Michele O’Keefe, associate director, Athletics and Recreation. 

I am pleased to welcome Lindsay English into our Athletics and Recreation department in the role of athletics communications and events coordinator. Lindsay began her role on March 25. 

Lindsay will be located with the Athletics and Recreation team at the Welland Campus, in room A103A and can be reached at extension 7681 or

Please join me in welcoming Lindsay to the NC family!

Read more


(In Case You Missed it)
Segal family donates to Niagara College's new International Centre, scholarships & bursaries
Niagara College takes important roe in EU-funded project for TVET reform in Malawi
BWR: Students prepare for take-off this spring on three IFS trips
NC's EAP students bowl, fundraise for a great cause
Jodi Steele elected to Niagara College Board of Governors as Academic Representative
Recap: BWR Winter International Field Study Trips
BWR: Hospitality & Tourism students learn industry best practices in Costa Rica
NC's head winemaker learns from South African viticulture students
Niagara College to host CICan National Conference May 5-7
Irish educator Mary Skillington assists with NC's EVE program review
Please direct all media inquiries and other external communications to International’s communications consultant, Julie Greco.  
Julie can be reached at 905-735-2211 x 7368, or via email

Student Success

NC Experience: “BWR’s IFS trip to Peru has humbled me to not just strive to be a global leader wanting to be at the top, but to instead work towards influencing an epidemic effect where other global leaders are born. It was life changing to immerse myself into such a rich culture and history that taught me to build a life with the resources I currently have and to live a fulfilled life not just looking through the windshield, but checking the rear-view mirror to see who you are leading and to where you are leading them to.”

-Shannor Wright
(Business Administration - Accounting)
Home country: Jamaica

Staff Updates

The NC International team is always growing! Additions (or moves) help Niagara College provide a greater level of support to our partners around the world and enhance our recruitment activities as well as strengthen our international partnerships.

Please see "Featured" for this month's staff update.

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