Perhaps you’re wondering why I started Wise Owl Wordsmithing. Well, I didn’t set out to become an editor, but I’m sure glad it found me! I’m grateful to have my own business where I get to work with people in a supportive and collaborative manner.
Let me share with you some highlights from the unconventional journey that led me here.
As a child, I had dreams of being a teacher. By the time I was a teenager my dad was an entrepreneur – trying his hand with several businesses over the years – which sparked my own interest in business. In Grade 10, I set my sights on becoming an accountant – certified managerial accounting sounded exciting. However, that plan would require revision partway through my bachelor’s degree.
Early in my third year at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), I had an epiphany. One day, while studying, I was struck with the realization that I didn’t like accounting! I was enjoying bookkeeping and basic business finance, but accounting was sucking the joy out of my life. What did this mean for my degree?
After assessing which courses were of greatest interest, I chose to drop the accounting major, keep the general business major, and add a major in economics. As I worked toward the completion of my degree, I discovered a strong curiosity for applied economics, particularly health economics. I decided to explore this further in grad school.
Once I graduated with a BA in General Business and Economics, I headed across the country to McMaster University for an MA in Economics. The 12-month program was intense and, honestly, a bit of a blur. It wasn’t long before the program was over and I found myself working for Health Canada in Ottawa.
While at Health Canada, I worked in program evaluation and became more aware of the health disparities facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Frustrated by a bureaucratic system that seemed incapable – or unwilling – to take meaningful actions to address the real issues, I resigned from my position. Unsure of what to do next, I defaulted to my happy place: school.
I moved back across the country and returned to UNBC to pursue a BA in First Nations Studies. It can be challenging at times to comprehend the atrocities inflicted upon Indigenous Peoples, but it is something we all need to do. Learning about Indigenous Peoples and cultures and understanding the systems of colonial oppression imposed by the settlers on these lands is a lifelong process. Having the opportunity to read books by Indigenous authors and learn from Indigenous people (Elders, instructors, storytellers, students, and community members) changed my life.
Determined to find a way to facilitate and create change at the community level, I began the Master of Social Work program. During the first year of the program, I had a practicum placement with the UNBC First Nations Centre. As part of my placement, I was given the opportunity to work with and support students on their academic journeys. I discovered a true love for witnessing student success!
Unfortunately, by the end of that first year, health issues forced me to take a leave of absence from school. School was my happy place, and without it I felt quite lost. Although no longer a student, I continued to spend time on campus, predominantly at the First Nations Centre. I was (and am) so grateful for the sense of belonging and community I found there.
One day, while visiting campus, the then-Director of the First Nations Centre (who had also been one of my instructors) approached me with a question: would I be interested in developing a workshop to help students with writing academic papers? I was flattered and deeply touched by the request. Creating and delivering the writing workshop gave me a sense of purpose again.
I was honoured to have the opportunity to work so closely with students. After offering the workshop a few times, I transitioned to providing one-on-one writing support for students – some editing, some writing how-tos, a bit of academic coaching, and the occasional cheerleading (though my pom-poms were imaginary). I found a new happy place: supporting students in achieving academic success.
I had the privilege and pleasure of working with students at the university for several years. But over time, as with everything in life, things changed. Although I continued to enjoy my work with students, the administrative structures at the university were shifting. It became clear that as things were reorganized my role was being eliminated. So, what now?
Change is an opportunity to re-evaluate your situation and consider trying something new. I knew working with students made me happy. And I recognized that the skillset I had developed was transferable to working with non-student writers. So, I tapped into my entrepreneurial spirit (sparked by my dad’s endeavours) and drew upon my business and economics education to begin a self-employment journey.
I officially launched Wise Owl Wordsmithing in November of 2016. Since then, I have had the good fortune to work with students, university faculty, small business owners, business professionals, authors, and other writers. To play a role in a client’s goal achievement is a wonderful experience. Thank you to all who have invited me along on their writing journey!