Labrador native takes a detour to Afghanistan before fulfilling her dream

In 2001, Lisa graduated from Menihek High school in Labrador City. After high school her plan was come to Memorial University to study physical education. However the events of 9/11 changed her plans and the next day she submitted her application to the military.

After six years of being in the forces she had an opportunity to do a tour of duty in Afghanistan. She headed to Kandahar, Afghanastan for a ten month tour of duty. But Lisa wanted to do more than her regular duties; she wanted to have a positive impact.

“While I was there I volunteered with a small group of Canadian and American soldiers and we worked together to give school supplies like pens, paper, book bags to a group of children. We also cleaned up all the garbage and built a fence around the school that would provide some safety, a playground and a soccer pitch.”

She also had an opportunity to give out supplies like clothing, cooking oil, flour, sugar, rice, and blankets to some families living in Kandahar City. “I had the opportunity to interact with the women of Afghanistan on a more personal level. One of the most rewarding things about this experience was when an elderly woman lifted her headdress to say thank you to me. She didn’t speak English but the smile and look on her face was priceless.”

But Lisa had a lifelong dream that would take her out of the military. “I had a great group of people that I worked with, I was on my way to promotion, I had great supervisors and I loved the work. The only thing missing was carrying out the life goal I had to be a physical education teacher.”

Lisa chose PE because she’s always been a huge athlete, is a lover of the outdoors and really enjoys teaching. She says her teachers back in Labrador had a huge impact on her and the person she is today. “They taught me how to be a good person, and how to stand up for what is right and for people who might not be able to stand up for themselves. They taught me how to take disappointment with grace; how hard work and dedication will allow you to achieve your goals. But most of all they have made me want to do exactly what they have done for me - become a teacher and mentor to young people.”

Lisa was nervous going back to school at 26, not knowing if she would succeed. “However, as soon as I stepped into the Physical Education building I was welcomed with open arms; everyone from the dean of the school at the time, to the professors to my classmates that would become lifelong friends. The sense of community that I felt in those first few days helped me get comfortable in my new environment. I cannot stress enough how much of an honor it was to be taught by such professional, educated, and friendly professors.”

Being an older student living off campus, Lisa wanted to get involved in the campus community. She joined Engineers Without Borders and the HKR Student Society. “This was a real door opener for me because I got to become friends with other HKR students, as well as get to know the HKR professors on a different level. By being involved with this society I had the opportunity to attend the PHE Canada Student Leadership Conference which was an experience that really helped shape who I am now.” She also had the opportunity to sit on the Academic Appeals Committee.

Lisa then spent a year and a half representing HKR students on the MUNSU Board of Directors, including a stint as executive director of External Affairs, Communications and Research. More recently, she has served as the MUNSU representative on the Task Force on Competitive Sports.

Lisa’s plan is to do the bachelor of education and teach high school, staying right here in her home province.