It starts with a seed. Seeds like ideas, can grow into opportunities and become something incredible. For 19 years, Cathy Cheeranjie has nurtured and pioneered the growth of the Student Development Department at Columbia International College. As the Head of Student Development, Cathy has been able to see programs grow and provide students with an enriching experience outside of the classroom.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, Canada, Cathy has always been engaged in volunteering and helping others. She laughs as she says, “My life has always been what the epitome of what Student Development is all about. I volunteered all the time in high school and in university. I was always in some sort of club like drama, swimming and music. When you’re volunteering you get a sense of responsibility. You’re the change you want to see in the world, you can’t place it on other people.”
“I believe that outside of the classroom, students can learn about their passions, who they want to become and how to treat other people.”
– Cathy Cheeranjie
While studying at Mount Alison University for Psychology and Language Development, Cathy would spend her summers working with people who had special needs and taught them gardening skills. “I have always been passionate about experiential learning. We ran greenhouses in the summer and we would make oils, vinegar and sell them at local artisan shows,” says Cathy. “Everything I’ve worked on has been a path that made sense as to why I am very passionate about Student Development.”
Cathy has helped to establish the growth of the Student Development Department alongside her staff. With every new program development meant an increase of new people coming into the department to ensure the success of every program. Programs like Model UN, Duke of Edinburgh Award and many more have started out like seeds. Those seeds have prospered into enriching programs for students which has changed the way that students learn not only in classroom settings but outside of them. “These programs are so important because I believe that outside of the classroom, students can learn about their passions, who they want to become and how to treat other people,” says Cathy.
“My time here at CIC has been everything I thought it would be and more.”
– Cathy Cheeranjie
The Student Development Department has many programs to help students learn what they love and they can volunteer in the community learning about important causes. The programs create a sense of belonging and the students can push themselves out of their comfort zones to understand how they can create a positive impact on the world. Cathy remarks, “From trips to Bark Lake to Model UN and all the other programs, I’ve seen students who were once shy grow into independent and fearless individuals.”
For Cathy the most rewarding thing to see in her work is seeing the seeds of ideas and it turning into the growth of a new program. It is taking the opportunity to make a program really special for the students that puts a smile on Cathy’s face. “To watch and help create the systems and processes that enables us to do so much for students is amazing to me. What I love about my job is obviously seeing the students cross the stage on graduation but it’s seeing how these programs helped the students become successful. My time here at CIC has been everything I thought it would be and more,” concludes Cathy.