“The advice shared with me, was once you had your education, it belongs to you and cannot be taken away,” says Denise Kaiswatum, who is approaching her 20th year working at First Nations University of Canada.
This advice has always stuck with her.
Working on campus has given Denise the opportunity to take courses in areas that are interesting to her and she says she doesn’t have a problem juggling work and her studies.
“The university encourages and supports their employees to enroll in classes while working,” says Denise.
She began her journey working in the Indigenous Education department in 1997, and has packed and unpacked in seven different departments since then.
Coming to the university, Denise has learned about networking, gained professional contacts and knowledge, and furthered her education.
Denise says being here has always given her a positive environment to work in while also allowing her to form strong bonds with the people. She also encouraged her family and friends to pursue higher education.
The late Paul Dudgeon had a very strong influence on Denise. He was persistent about asking her if she was going to take classes or if she was enrolled yet.
She started the Administration program in the fall of 2002 as a part-time student, taking one course per semester.
Denise says that getting her education helped her break away from the negative stereotypes about First Nations people, and gave her a sense of pride and commitment.
This shows in the way she presents herself to everyone she comes across in her work place, always kind and professional.
Currently, Denise is the Executive Assistant in Finance and Administration. She has an office with an amazing view of the campus which is also filled with inspiring artwork from the university collection; a place that is perfect for one of the sunniest people on campus.