by Deborah Melman-Clement
Hana Stanbury made a dream come true when she moved to Canada from the Czech Republic in 1993 - but it came at the expense of another dream.
She had just completed her five-year teaching degree from Prague's prestigious Charles University, which qualified her to teach at the college level. "I was meant to be a college teacher," she says. "But I couldn't do that here. It's hard for foreign-trained teachers to find work."
With teaching put aside, Hana shifted gears, moving to Kingston and landing a job in the Clinical Education Centre at Queen's. There, she discovered the school's full-time staff education benefit. With Queen's footing the bill, Hana earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology. "I like to read those kinds of books anyway," she says, "so I figured I might as well get credit for it."
Although the degree didn't immediately advance her career, Hana recalls it as an important experience. "It helped me improve my English and it was fun," she says. "I applied some of the credits from my Czech degree and I finished in two years."
A few years ago, Hana relocated to the Queen's International Centre, and once again decided to take advantage of the staff education benefit. This time, she chose to pursue Master's of Education. Her employer granted her a yearlong leave of absence so that she could study full-time. Just two years later, Hana has her M.Ed., making her the second Queen's graduate in her family. Her son graduated with a B.A. in Political Science in 2007. "I was a Queen's mom for four years," she says. "My son had a great experience here and I did too."
Hana sees her degree as an investment in her future. "Graduate degrees improve your writing skills and research skills," she says. "Your overall perspective broadens, you read faster and in a more academic way. All of this means that you can advance in your career and take on more responsibility."
Today Hana is focused on parlaying her degree into a more responsible position at the university, and she's looking ahead to other options. "An M.Ed. is also a jumping board to a Ph.D.," she says. "I don't know if I want that now, but I'm not ruling anything out."