- Role Model -

Collette Garland


Name: Collette Garland

Occupation: Microsoft Instructor

Employer: Eastern Academy

Education: Petroleum Engineering Technology Diploma, Bachelor of Education (Prim/Elem), Occupational Health and Safety Certificate, Post-Secondary Instructor's Certificate, Master's of Education (Post-Secondary Studies).

Hometown: Cupids, NL

Current community of residency: Cupids, NL

Collette Garland

What does your typical work day involve?

My typical work day as a Microsoft Instructor, is to enter the private college's campus, go to my classroom and welcome students from 8:15 am - 12:15 pm & 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Sitting at the computers, students complete the online training and I offer varied instruction in conjunction. My room holds 30 computers and I typically have them all used completing one of the six courses that I teach. I teach Computer Fundamentals, Software Fundamentals, Word Processing, PowerPoint Presentations, Excel Spreadsheets and Access Database Management. Each of these courses are 2 weeks in duration with a Final Exam on the last day of five of them. Since moving online, I have completed a YouTube channel to help students with general computer questions, set up and projects.I work indoor all day in a classroom, coordinating with the office for student records, students alerts and resources.

What do you love most about your profession? Why did you choose this career?

The thing I love most about my career is that I get to help people. I have always loved science and technology, it is why I chose a Petroleum Engineering Technology program (geography and rock formations was my favorite subject), and to have a science focus for my Bachelor's Degree. With my love of science/technology, and helping people through teaching them, I have managed to secure a place where I teach adults who have come back from the work force, many uncomfortable and lacking confidence with computers and allow them to have a safe space to develop their skills. I chose my career as a means to give back to society. I want to help people grow and become their best selves, and being a patient and structured presence in the classroom allows them to have that opportunity. Many students of mine have kept in contact since they have graduated, and many have me as a reference on their resumes. This lasting connection shows me that I have made a positive difference in someone else's life.

When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?

I will admit, as a child I wanted to be a lawyer (my mother still thinks I should have been a lawyer), but as I grew up I have other things to consider such as my personal interests and the job market. I was interested in science and technology in grade school and chose Petroleum Engineering Technology as a career. It was in this program that I realized that I wanted science to be a part of my career. My interests changed as when I entered the work force I was greatly intimidated by my all male colleagues and left the work force due to it; however, I vowed to become a teacher and share my love of science and technology in whatever role I could. So, I spent a few years substituting and engaging grade school students in science and critical thought exercises until I obtained the job I have now as a Microsoft Instructor teaching technology skills to those looking for a better career.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

I don't think I had a subject that I didn't like. I loved learning. But, the fact that I would take my science textbooks home for light reading would suggest that it would have to have been Biology.

What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?

High school: I know it is hard to think realistically of where you would like to be in 10 years time, so think of your youngest or favorite teacher. Ask them why they chose teaching. Ask them when they knew that they wanted to be a teacher and what was their favorite subject in school. Now, make comparisons to your life. Are there any subjects that you enjoy more than others, what are your favorite hobbies and what careers have you thought about? There are so many amazing opportunities at MUN and CNA if you would like to stay on the island, and there are even more opportunities off the island. Keep an eye out for scholarships and bursaries for these programs and do some research on the ones that sound most appealing. Then lastly, cross check with the job market and ensure these will be in demand jobs.

Elementary/Jr. High: I really enjoyed understanding how things worked, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather while he took apart car engines, and my nan as she would sew elaborate projects. I knew that the job I wanted when I grew up would have something to do with understanding how things worked. What do you think you would like to do in your job when you grow up?

Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?

Because we are still trying to break the stigma. What we need to do it make it normal to think of women in skilled trades and STEM careers. We have a long way to go for this, and until then we need to keep appealing to the inquisitive side of children, keep them hungry for knowledge and the flame for critical thought alit. It is when they conform to societal expectations is when their flame is smothered. Children is grade school are still developing their interpretations of the world, and the more they see it spoken about by adults around them, the more normal it will become. It is hopeful, that one day, male nurses and female engineers will not be a minority, but until that day we just have to practice critical thought, acceptance and open mindedness, especially to girls in school.

Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?

My mother is my role model. This woman inspires me because as much as my interests lay in science and technology, my personal brambles often times prevented me from obtaining the milestones I could have and she always believed in me. It is because of her steady support that I pick myself up, love myself harder and move onto the next challenge with a fire that keeps getting stoked each time I fall down. She has taught me the importance of failing well. She inspires me to move, always keep moving. Fail, but find the lesson and do it better next time. You can have a love for something, but until you have a love of self, you will never feel worthy of loving anything else.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?

First things first, I try to always remember to have fun. My creative expression is a release for me, it is like meditation or therapy. When I forget to have fun, I wither. Some of the things I like to do for fun are embroidery, wood burning, quilting, painting, wood working, reading, writing, meditate, make jewellery, crochet and cook.

Some of my persistent hobbies I have turned into small businesses on Etsy, such as my wood burning and graphic designing. However, for true fun and creative release, I embroider. I never follow a pattern and just find inspiration from things around me before I thread my needle. In high school my activities were more physical and I was involved in the ice and ball hockey and soccer teams as the goalie. I also attended a national tournament for fast pitch baseball as an outfielder for the Newfoundland team while in high school.

What superhero do you relate to most? Why?

Superhero? I've never thought of relating myself to a superhero before this moment, but I would have to say that I relate to Ironman and strive to be Wonder Woman. Ironman, to me, doesn't see a technological problem as unsolveable, he simply sees it as a mystery to be solved. His hard headedness and sarcastic wit often get him in trouble, but he has the biggest heart and willingness to lead others. I believe Ironman feels most misunderstood, but it doesn't stop him from giving the fruits of his talents to the world. Wonder Woman embraces fear with vulnerability and that is something I strive to have in my life.

Anything else you wish to share?

I've always wanted to be a role model for students, which is half the reason I became a teacher. I wanted to be a mentor for developing minds and I wanted to be a source of love for those who needed it. This, I believe, is a reason many of my classmates decided to be teachers, as well. However, I realized I had a lot to learn about myself before I could teach others how to love. I feel that I have come to a place in my life where I am confident in who I am and what I can offer to the world. I believe being a role model is an incredibly important role to play in someone's life, and after being that person for so many students, I take the responsibility seriously. I am proud that I have developed myself into a person that I would look up to as a child, and I am the adult, now, to soar in that role.


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