Passing Knowledge to the Next Generation: Meet Jacqueline Willis

For Jacqueline Willis, CBU’s Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation (MEd-SCI) allowed her to deepen her knowledge of sustainability while exploring new ideas and teaching practices from across the globe. A teacher at Steinbach Regional Secondary School just outside of Winnipeg, Jacqueline enrolled in the MEd-SCI program in 2016 and graduated this May. As if juggling a full-time career and a Master’s program wasn’t enough, Jacqueline welcomed a new baby this Fall, proving that anything is possible with determination and support. 

Jacqueline says the topics covered throughout the program reflect our changing world as we move toward a more sustainable society, something that is close to her heart. “I really enjoyed the way the courses were taught because we were given a foundational knowledge in addition to opportunities to dive deeper into areas we were interested in,” she says. “The assignments were quite flexible and allowed students to be creative by designing blogs, websites, videos and more instead of the traditional paper-writing.” 

Dr. Catherine O’Brien, Associate Professor of Education, had a special impact on Jacqueline’s educational journey. “Dr. O’Brien was so amazing, I loved both of her courses Sustainable Happiness and Well-Being and Health Promoting Schools,” explains Jacqueline. “The courses drove the idea and content for my thesis and Dr. O’Brien took on the role of advisor.” Jacqueline adds that completing her thesis while on maternity leave was the highlight of her time in the program. “Defending my thesis was super rewarding despite how nervous I was,” she says. “It was a wonderful time to share my work and facilitate thought-provoking conversations about the well-being of teachers.” 

While Jacqueline has many fond memories of her time in the program, she says there were challenges along the way. “Trying to do revisions while taking care of my newborn and myself was tough,” she shares. “Luckily Dr. O’Brien was very understanding and supportive during this process.” The flexibility of the MEd-SCI program along with supportive faculty truly allows professionals to conquer their coursework while balancing their responsibilities as educators. Jacqueline says things were busy at times, but she was thankful for the rejuvenation of her teaching style that came as a result of newly discovered perspectives in the program. 

In Jacqueline’s eyes, the MEd-SCI program allowed her to take more risks in her teaching and be more creative. “I was given new ideas to integrate into my classroom and plenty of resources to do so,” she says. “From a student’s perspective, I really appreciate the knowledge my professors shared with me, especially in the field of sustainability.” Jacqueline says as an educator she has an obligation to provide her own students with a foundation of knowledge in sustainability with the goal of living a sustainable life. “Sustainability is vital for the longevity of our planet and society’s future,” says Jacqueline. “I always tell my students that everyone in our society plays a key role in taking responsibility for the health of our planet.” 

Looking back on her time at CBU, Jacqueline says she is so thankful for the direction the experience provided. “I was at a crossroads in my career and needed motivation,” she explains. “This program did that and so much more for me.”

To learn more about the Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation at CBU, click here.