Alumni Profile

Alison Ellwood

Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, International Development
Graduated: 2005
Current Position: Elementary School Teacher

Current Career: Elementary School Teacher - I try to teach my students to be active citizens and it is amazing what they can do when they put their minds to it. This is what I love – watching them discover their own potential.

Why I think I'm living a great life: For me, it has just been about living my life as socially, environmentally, and economically responsible as possible. It has been about being true to myself and doing my best to give back more than I have received in my lifetime. Am I lucky? Absolutely. I was born in a country that has allowed me the most incredible opportunities to attend school, work, learn, teach, start a business, travel, volunteer and work abroad.

How I got here: If you had asked me at 19 years old if I was going to start a business, live in Africa then go bike across Canada , I would have thought you were crazy. If you had asked me if I was going to become a teacher back then, I would have also thought that was crazy, but here I am.

Thing that made the biggest difference: The times that make the biggest impact are those times when you have the courage to make a drastic change. It takes learning about yourself through those experiences that help you to make more appropriate choices in the future. Making my own choices was within my control. I needed to learn to stop worrying about those things I could not control, stop trying to achieve what other people thought to be important or what was best for me and work towards finding those pockets in life where I felt my best. The beauty of age is the experience that goes along with it to help in that decision-making process.

How I'm using my degree in my career: School enabled me to learn what kind of 'learner' I am. I found that I do not learn well without experiencing and doing. It was important for me to apply what I was learning – in a summer job, through a field study course or by taking a semester off and working in the field. The latter became affordable or "doable" when I learned of the many government employment initiatives for youth. In other words, I was successful in university because I found a way that it DID work for me.

What I've learned: Don't be a complainer. If you don't like something about your current work situation – change it! If you can't change it and can't work without the change – leave. You always have a choice. Complainers just sour the mood and demoralize others. Complaining does nothing to improve your own success and happiness.

Also, planning is important but it should never limit your openness to new experiences. The most amazing part of being a youth today is our ability to be wide-eyed and open to those opportunities that present themselves to us. Obviously we do not accept all of them but being open to these ideas is important.