King's welcomes alumnus as new Academic Information Assistant
July 2, 2015
Name: Thomas Gray
Department: Academic Deans Office
What is your role in the Academic Deans Office?
- My role is Academic Information Assistant. I am one of the front line people who act as a gatekeeper for students’ academic needs. My role consists of assisting and guiding students through any inquiries they may have pertaining to academia. I am also active with many of the tasks that go on behind the scenes, such as the instructor evaluations.
How does your department make a difference for students?
- The staff in our department are the first people of contact for students regarding their programs and path at King’s. We are present from the beginning at Summer Academic Orientation, we are present throughout with counselling processes, and we are even present as students accomplish their goal of completing their degree. Students can come to us with any academic issue they may be facing – whether they have questions about their program, medical issues, or general academic counseling; we can provide answers or book an appointment for a student to meet with an academic counsellor.
What educational background and past work experience brought you to King’s?
- I moved to Canada from England in 2008. King’s was the only institution in which I applied to, as it fit nicely with my faith-based upbringing and past work experience. I worked for seven years with the Sisters of St. Joseph at their Mother House. The sisters encouraged me to apply to King’s as many of them have received degrees from King’s. I received educational bursaries and gained valuable skills and connections that I will carry with me. I graduated from King’s in May of 2015 with an Honors Double Major in English and Sociology with distinction.
What do you like best about working at King’s?
- Working at King’s is kind of a homecoming for me in a way. I worked here as a work-study student so I was able to make many connections while part of the program. Even when I didn’t qualify for the work study program, I negotiated with the Academic Deans Office a volunteer schedule to ensure I was still able to maintain the position I once had. Everyone is very nice here and it truly is a great place to work. The faculty and staff all get along which makes coming to work much more pleasurable. I also enjoy helping others, so the Academic Deans Office is a great place for me to be. Being someone who just graduated, it is really beneficial that I can relate to the students and they can relate to me as well. I am able guide students to helpful resources within and outside of the Academic Deans Office.
What is it like being a former student and now being a full-time employee of King’s?
- I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work here as soon as I graduated. It was an unusual transition, going from a student to staff role literally in hours. I felt the real transition from student to staff role during the first meeting I attended. It was the annual Academic Deans Office (ADO) retreat, a meeting where the ADO staff brainstorm upcoming events and what alterations to make from the previous year. The nice part of it all, and something that not many get to experience, is that even though I am not a student anymore, I want to come here every day and I am excited to work.
What advice do you have for current students who see a future in becoming an employee at King’s?
- The way I was hired at King’s was very coincidental and unconventional to begin with, so I can’t expect the path I took to be the easiest. What I can advise is to build and maintain connections. When it is time to apply for a job, do not hesitate; take the chance. For me, being a student who worked under the work-study program and volunteered ample amount of hours, it wasn’t a transition for me or King’s to move me from a student role to a full time staff role. I had made the connections, I didn’t need any training, and I really just hit the ground running.
What are your interests outside of King’s?
- I really enjoy cooking, going to the gym, camping, hiking, biking, and the outdoors in general. As an English student with an interest in modern drama, I enjoy watching live plays; Fringe productions are my favourite. In addition, I recently started singing with King’s Professor Jeremy Greenway; we are hoping to do a small show one day.
Do you have anything else to add?
- I really need to emphasize the role that volunteering has had with my success. Volunteering really does open doors, and if you have a sense of what you want to do in life and you pick the right places, volunteering can really bring out opportunities. I can really say it was the connections I made through volunteering that has put me in this seat today.
- Most importantly to add though, it is very important that students visit the Academic Deans Office on a regular basis. Often students believe they do not need to visit, but we are always here and we want to make sure students are on track, especially in their graduating year.