“The intellectual and personal growth that can come from putting time and thought into your classes and projects, talking to your professors, and engaging in other opportunities to expand your knowledge and perspectives is enormous.” Meet Beedie Luminary Mentor, Melanie Koenderman
Work Title | Company:
Associate Dean | Schwarzman Scholars
Why did you decide to become a mentor with Beedie Luminaries?
I’ve been working with university students for many years. I’ve seen some students approach their studies as simply a checkbox, putting in as little work as possible to get their diploma. The intellectual and personal growth that can come from putting time and thought into your classes and projects, talking to your professors, and engaging in other opportunities to expand your knowledge and perspectives is enormous. I decided to join as a mentor to provide not just support to my mentees during their transition into post secondary studies, but also to hopefully help them take full advantage of the opportunities that are available to them as students.
What was your first job? What was your biggest takeaway from that experience?
I worked in my dad’s flower shop from the time I was twelve until I left for university, beginning with cleaning out flower buckets and folding rose boxes, and moving on to serving customers, doing deliveries, and managing the shop in his absence. I learned an enormous amount from that experience: most importantly, problem solving, initiative, and high standards. My dad was an exacting boss but an excellent role model in that regard: he expected you to do any task to the very best of your ability and without complaint, whether it was sweeping out the garage or managing the store, just as he himself did.
What book(s) have greatly influenced your life?
So many wonderful books! I have been an avid reader since I was very young, and majored in English literature at university. Reading The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 in university opened my eyes to the power of governments and policy; books like The God of Small Things and The Namesake and A Suitable Boy cultivated a more global outlook as well as an awareness of the basic needs and desires common to us all. More recently, during COVID, reading Barkskins and The Overstory and the Hidden Lives of Trees has increased my understanding of the role and importance of forests, and the urgency with which we need policy changes to protect those remaining.
What advice would you give to post-secondary students as they prepare to transition into the working world?
Whatever work you go into, have another ‘thing’ in your life that you do so that your work doesn’t become your entire identity. Whether it’s a sport, or a volunteer position, or hobby or project, it’s incredibly valuable to have another group of people and/or another thing that you do that brings you happiness and fulfillment so that you do not come to rely entirely on your job for that.
What / where is your happy place?
Ah, Tofino. From the moment I catch the first glimpse of ocean on the drive in, I can feel myself relaxing. I love the wildness of the ocean, and the stunning treelines along every shore. I try to learn something new every year, and I took up surfing when I turned forty after spending many weekends in Tofino and being inspired while watching the surfers. I’m still very much a beginner, even after many years, but I love that raw feeling of aliveness that comes from being in the ocean, buffeted by waves and wind.Back To Top