BY CATARINA MUIA
Students at Sheridan don’t see what happens behind the scenes to make timetables, process registrations or create the magical ceremony that caps their education with a gown and a diploma or degree.
One of the people who who makes these wheels turn smoothly, is Sheridan’s award-winning Registrar Linda Dalton.
Dalton, who has been the college’s registrar for 12 years, received the Committee of Registrars, Admissions and Liaison Officers’ 2016 Golden Quill Award, which recognizes people who go above and beyond in their day-to-day work.
“Because I’ve been in the registrar role for 12 years and been involved in post-secondary education for over 30, they identify as someone who is helping people out in this role,” said Dalton.
Along with all the work Dalton does within Sheridan, she also participates in a number of provincial initiatives that help the college system implement some ministry directives.
“It’s recognizing, really, some years of helping out in the provincial work and not only focusing on my job internally at Sheridan.”
Although Dalton is aware of all the work she does both in and out of Sheridan, she did not expect to win the award, and said “It all really happened within five minutes.”
She was at the annual meeting of Ontario’s Committee of Registrars, Admissions and Liaison
Officers in November and a retired nominee had accepted his award. Dalton thought the night was over.
“I was sitting at a table and I think that’s it and they say, ‘We have a second award-winner.’”
Dalton was then presented the award by one of her colleagues and explained that “I was quite overwhelmed. It was a large room, I was quite emotional that they had selected me and very appreciative. I was very humbled.”
The best part for Dalton was being recognized by her peers.
“It’s very, very significant. I feel that it makes me feel like I have a sense of value with the people I respect so much.”
Laura Gariepy, who has been working as Dalton’s assistant for just over a year, said that she sees Dalton as more of a mentor than a “boss”.
She explained the longer she works along-side her, the more she sees how much Dalton cares about those she interacts with while doing her job.
“She wants her staff and students to be successful and will offer guidance and wisdom to support wherever needed in a moment’s notice,” said Gariepy.
Being able to guide and take students under her wing is Dalton’s favourite part of the job.
“Sometimes, the reason I’m so excited about convocation, is because I get to see students who might have had some troubles while they were a student here, get past those troubles and go on to graduate,” said Dalton.
She explained that she takes a couple of students under her wing for the year to make sure that she’s constantly in contact and is able to get the students’ voices when they’re implementing certain things.
Along with making sure she keeps in contact to see how to better their offices and accessibilities, Dalton makes sure that she’s in contact with those who need help in their personal lives as well.
Gariepy explained that she thinks the reason Dalton is deserving of the Golden Quill, is because “she goes above and beyond each semester and certainly makes a memorable impact in the lives of students and families she meets every year. She’s one of a kind,” she said.
“Sometimes students get really overwhelmed. I don’t solve any of it for them, but I’m trying to empower the student to be independent. So when they talk to me about things like that, I’ll say things like, ‘Well have you thought about…?’” explained Dalton.
Students who may be having financial problems, Dalton will refer or introduce them to those who would be best suited to help with the situation such as the awards and bursaries office, so that the student is still in control and being independent.
“So I don’t solve it for them, but I ask them what they have done and I make some suggestions about how they can move forward.”
Through keeping this constant contact and guiding students throughout the years, Dalton has met many students and learned everyone’s stories.
“I have students come back to me and they tell me their stories, and I remember how they have moved through and how their experience at Sheridan has been enhanced by their program, by their faculty.
“There are so many of those stories that I’m aware of.”
When convocation comes around, she explained that she’ll see students cross the stage that she has never met before, and that makes her happy because that means they didn’t have a problem that needed her intervention.
But she also sees a student cross the stage who she does know has had a problem and she has had to help, “and I’m still excited because they’ve overcome that.”