As a Canada-US Fulbright Award recipient, I completed my Master’s Degree in Education (EdM) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). My EdM at Harvard embodied excellence in every way, from the daily inspiration of faculty to the intensely dynamic interactions with my international peers. I remember seeing Nelson Mandela receive his honorary law degree at the Tercentenary Theatre in Harvard Yard, hearing lectures at the Kennedy School of Government from authors Camille Paglia and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., learning about multiple intelligences from Howard Gardner, and sharing in the fervour of Noam Chomsky’s political activism at the First Parish church in Harvard Square. I was constantly motivated to be my very best and to achieve new heights in my own learning and the learning of others. While I had been an “A” student throughout my undergraduate studies, this environment demanded more than just academic discipline. It required true commitment to intellectual inquiry and a full ownership of one’s voice. At Harvard, I learned to be fully accountable for the quality of my contributions and how to enhance the larger group discourse through meaningful questions and informed insights.
Returning to British Columbia in 1999 upon completion of my degree, I was able to progress professionally from being an instructor of English as a second language (ESL) to finding a position in instructor development, training those who themselves wanted to teach. I led workshops in best teaching/learning practices and in evaluating lesson plans and lesson delivery. I was always driven to the exploration of where potential “gaps” in teaching quality existed and how through analysis, evaluation, and reflection improvements could be made. Central to this process was the learner; and how learning and assessment needed to be shaped in order to result in the most efficient and effective achievement of learning outcomes.
[Co-presenting the 2012 Valedictorian award to Fawzi Ahmad, Cardiology Technologist Program graduate with Director of Faculty & Student Affairs, Jacquie Stene-Murphy.]
A few turns in the road later, I assumed education leadership positions in curriculum development and quality assurance at private post-secondary institutions offering programming in health care, human services, and education careers at the diploma and certificate levels. Working for twelve years in the private post-secondary education sector, the opportunities for professional growth and development were virtually relentless and the workload enormous; I led subject matter experts in the design of programs, directed all aspects of program delivery and wrote innumerable quality assurance reports for regulatory bodies and other external agencies. I became a new mother in this time as well and, alongside a continued pride in my young daughter’s learning and development, I also knew the delights of awarding exceptional students for their achievements – recognizing that my own path had been profoundly shaped by the Fulbright program scholarship.
To advance educationally myself, I completed the Chair Academy Certificate for Leadership and Development in 2010, a post-degree program geared specifically to enhancing the competency of higher education administrators. This experience was exceptional; I had the opportunity to meet post-secondary leaders from across North America and to learn with and from them over the course of the year long program with two, one week residences. Here I was inspired to develop myself and those around me, becoming an educator who could empower using transformative leadership techniques.
As my professional experience specialized in focus to healthcare specific programming, I started to have opportunities to contribute on multi-stakeholder committees in the development of provincial curriculum plans and education standards. In particular, I was involved in this instance with the Practical Nursing and Health Care Assistant Programs.
Today, my current position is aligned with my passionate pursuit for quality in education. Rather than working at the institutional / program level, I am now contributing at a level that has a provincial impact. As the Consultant of Education Assessments at the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry, a project under the Ministry of Health, I provide leadership for educational assessment initiatives to ensure that health care assistants in BC are being trained to the provincial standard and are being encouraged to continuously improve their skills. Health care assistants are unregulated support workers who provide the majority of direct, personal care to seniors in their homes and in residential care settings. At a time when our population is living longer than ever before, it is rewarding to review and confirm that educational institutions offering the HCA program are meeting the provincial curriculum guidelines and educational delivery standards. In this role at the Registry, I have the opportunity to collaborate with coordinators from other provinces who have similar education program recognition processes. Together we have formed an ‘Interprovincial Care Aide Mobility Committee’ and will be developing a national competency framework to support mobility of this large and vital group of health care providers.
An ongoing theme in my life has been quality, from pushing excellence in my own contributions within group forums to elevating teaching practices and student learning and, now, to the improving the standards of care provincially and nationally. Looking ahead, I am truly optimistic about what the future holds as I’ve always asked, “How do I make things better?”
I’d like to leave with this quote from Noam Chomsky, an inspirational figure in my life: “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”
Sarina Corsi with her daughter, Jemma (7 years) and Lee, her husband in their home province of British Columbia.Sarina Corsi was a 1998-1999 Fulbright Student; she is a Consultant in Education Assessment at BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry