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Speaker profiles

These entertaining and inspiring speakers appeared at Homecoming 2014 to share their tales from the other side:

Image of Ashley MacLean

Ashley MacLean
Class of 2012
Bachelor of Science (Honours)/Bachelor of Education, Applied Mathematics
Faculty of Education

By keeping an open mind about what her dream might look like, Ashley found a dream job and a dream business.

As a student at UOIT, Ashley envisioned a traditional teaching job. But when she graduated, there was long line of aspiring teachers on standby. Not content to wait in line, she decided to create her own job. Recognizing a growing demand for homeschooling and tutoring support, she founded A Plus Tutoring with Certified Teachers in 2013. Her business provides in-home, one-on-one instruction on a wide range of subjects with professional teachers.

With hard work and attention to quality, she soon established an impressive reputation and the business is growing quickly. She now employs several Ontario Certified Teachers who tutor students from kindergarten through high school and others enrolled in university, college and adult education courses. The mission of A Plus Tutoring is to provide the best personalized instruction for each student while developing their inherent motivation and confidence.

Ashley's university experience confirmed that teaching was the right career path for her. She participated in six placements at six different schools. UOIT also nourished her entrepreneurial tendencies by providing an alternative school placement that allowed her to see how teaching skills could be applied in settings beyond the classroom. While attending UOIT she also worked as a private tutor, assisting students in grades seven to 12 and helping first-year university math and physics students perform effectively on mid-terms and final exams.

Ashley was also captain of the varsity dance team where she choreographed routines and taught her fellow dancers. In 2011 and again in 2012, she was honoured with the dance team Leadership Award at the UOIT Ridgebacks annual Athletics Banquet.

Today, she is using the expertise she acquired to expand the market for her business from Durham Region to York Region and Toronto, Ontario. She also makes time to volunteer her teaching services by providing free home Bible studies in her community.

Ashley's formula for career and life success: "Take life into your hands, work hard with the cards you've been dealt and make the best of it."

Image of Christian JulalChristian Julal
Class of 2012
Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Communication
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities (FSSH)

"Believe in yourself and never be complacent. If there's something you want, go after it." Taking this advice from his professors to heart, Christian is already an editor, author, educator, communicator and dancer.

After graduating with a BA in Communication from UOIT in 2012, he enrolled at the University of Toronto. He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Education and completed an internship at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic School, where he taught drama. That's where he proudly realized he can make a difference in the lives of his students.

UOIT made a big difference in Christian's life. As an undergraduate, he discovered his passion for teaching as well as writing. For a class with Dr. Teresa Pierce, Assistant Professor, FSSH, he wrote a paper that so impressed her that she helped him get it published. He presented this paper – Metaphors of Seduction: A Metaphorical Analysis of Neil Strauss’ Book, The Game – at the 2012 Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Association in Boston, Massachusetts.

Following graduation, he acquired more editing and writing experience with the online magazine Urban Times, a social publishing platform for reading, sharing and writing world-changing ideas and stories. "It's my dream to one day write a novel that people talk about," he says. That day may be soon – his first novel for young adults, Places Up Here, is currently being published.

Dance is another creative endeavour for Christian. During his time at UOIT he was a member of the dance crew Geekfreaks, which received multiple awards from Ontario Universities Competition for Hip-Hop (OUCH) and MuchMusic. He also performed for So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

As he looks ahead, Christian ponders more lessons he learned along the way. "You may have heard time and time again that if you fail, you should get back up again, and that couldn't be more true. Also, live life with empathy; not only will you be more creative and innovative, but overall, you'll be a better person."

Image of Mallory RyanMallory Ryan
Class of 2009
Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours)
Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS)

Mallory likes firsts.

This proud alumna, occupational therapist, dance teacher and founder of Dance Ability, a program for children with varying abilities, came to UOIT in 2005 because she wanted to "be part of many firsts."

Mallory viewed our new university "as a window of opportunities." She met the Dean of Health Sciences at a university fair and was inspired by her energy and enthusiasm. "The fact that a Dean was listening to my goals and understanding the direction I wanted to take meant a lot to me."  

When she arrived on campus, Mallory immediately immersed herself in clubs and events. She became a tour guide and a summer assistant for her faculty, and launched the university's first dance team. She also co-founded and organized the university/college dance competition Bust-A-Move (BAM). More than a dozen teams from across Canada participated in the annual competitions. After completing her degree, the athletic department hired Mallory to be the first coach for the new Varsity Ridgeback Dance Team.

Following graduation, Mallory attended the University of Toronto (U of T) where she received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Today she works as an occupational therapist, primarily with children, in the community. She is also a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science at U of T.

On weekends, Mallory instructs classes at Dance Elite, the studio where she started dancing at the age of three. There she and her sister, Jade, launched Dance Ability. This program provides students of all abilities with a safe place to express their creativity and also enables other students and volunteers to enhance their understanding of diversity, equity and inclusivity.

"UOIT fostered my development as a leader," Mallory says. "The supportive community was what I needed to build confidence in my ability to create. And my success in creating start-up initiatives at UOIT gave me the skills and confidence to start my own occupational therapy initiatives."

The UOIT Alumni Association has recognized Mallory's achievements with its 2014 Humanitarian Award. She also shared her inspiring story during Homecoming as a speaker at Alumni Adventures: Tales from the Other Side. Looking ahead, Mallory hopes to establish more unique occupational therapy initiatives and potentially become more involved in educating future occupational therapists. It looks like her future will include many more firsts.

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