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August 20, 2010

Sarah Loewen

Sarah Loewen

Sarah Loewen, Camosun's new Associate Dean for the School of Access, arrives on campus this week, bringing with her a passion for empowering people and communities through education. She also brings along a repertoire of leadership skills, a lifelong interest in fitness, health and wellness, and an effervescent, articulate, hard working spirit that allows her to integrate these diverse qualities into a single, purposeful dynamo.

Loewen grew up on Haida Gwaii, a remote and isolated community where post-secondary opportunities were inaccessible for everybody. “Schools seemed a million miles away. My own post-secondary journey was extremely challenged because I did a lot of it through distance from Haida Gwaii.” Improved transportation, changes in communications, and the efforts of Northwest Community College have changed all that now. But her personal experience inspired Loewen's passion for reaching out to under-served communities who may be isolated by social, cultural or economic circumstances.

A passion for the powers of education

Her passion for helping people, and her spirited belief that education is the single most powerful way to transform an individual's life, aligns closely with the mission and goals of Camosun's School of Access. Thirty-eight percent of Camosun's students begin their post-secondary journeys in Access, picking up or refreshing academic prerequisites, exploring career and education opportunities, learning English as a second language, completing high school graduation and so much more. In addition, the school works closely with the Department of Aboriginal Education and Community Connections, which provides academic and cultural supports that help hundreds of Aboriginal learners choose and reach their goals.

The bulk of Loewen's educational and career focus—which includes an MBA in Leadership, and faculty positions teaching business administration—has been management, leadership, organizational behaviour and organizational development. Her résumé also includes being Director of Education for NWCC's Haida Gwaii campus and manager of VIU's Cowichan-based Centre for Continuing Studies.

“I'm really, really, really excited to come to Camosun,” says Loewen. “I think the role of a college is connected directly to community, often acting as a bridge or a ladder for people to move on and do something else. I have this sense the School of Access fully embraces the notion of developmental education and challenges the traditional post-secondary paradigm a little bit. We need to find ways to get into community, to be welcoming, accessible and really student centred.”

School of Access Dean John Boraas echoes Loewen's enthusiasm. “I'm really, really, really excited to welcome her to Camosun,” he says. “Sarah's skills, values and her ability to channel huge amounts of energy in positive directions is going to go a long way towards building bridges within the college and into community.”

When asked what motivates and inspires her, Lowen is quick to respond, “People and relationships drive me. I love to work as a team where people are really able to bring their strengths to the forefront.” And, she admits she loves to read leadership books. “My favourite book is called Building the Bridge as you Walk on It by Robert E. Quinn. It speaks beautifully to change, where you don't know what the bridge should look like, or where it will lead, but it still gets you where you need to be.” She plans to listen to lots of other audio books on the commute from her home in Shawnigan Lake, where she lives with her 13-year old daughter.

Although the nature of her work is to be in an office and meetings, she enjoys an active life and finds it important to maintain work-life balance. Look for her on the trails behind Interurban campus, or perhaps participating in one of our fitness programs offered through Fitness & Recreation.

Turning a path full circle

While her career path has had quite a few twists and turns, and is, in her words, a bit unconventional, it's ironic that Loewen's initial foray into post-secondary began at Camosun, where she earned a diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management. “It was really funny because my interview was actually in my Accounting 155 classroom. I know this sounds corny but I do feel like I'm coming home in a way.”

Welcome, home, Sarah. We look forward to standing on your bridge and enjoying the view and the destination, once they reveal themselves!

Last updated: August 20, 2010 10:46 am

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