Nimkiinaabkawaagan Mary MacLeod-Beaver wants to ensure Indigenous students feel supported throughout their post-secondary journey, even after graduation.
“Indigenous students come from various backgrounds and some have made great strides to get here. I think it’s important to have a role like this one to ensure that those students feel seen and supported because they deserve the same opportunities as others,” said Mary, who is the Indigenous Student Transitions Advisor at Fleming College.
In her role, Mary does community outreach and engagement, represents Fleming at the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Information Program, coordinates Fleming’s Indigenous student orientation and mentorship program (Bishkaa), and develops and delivers programs to support Indigenous students moving beyond Fleming College.
“It differs from mainstream recruitment in that our goal is to see Indigenous students successful in how they determine success for themselves,” she explains. “And that may not mean Fleming College is a part of it; but if it is, great! We’ll be here to help them through their Fleming journey.”
Mary said financial barriers is one obstacle that may deter students from applying, which is why she promotes scholarships and bursaries that are available for Indigenous students.
“The feeling of ‘can I do it? Am I smart enough?’ is another barrier for students,” she explains. It’s important for Indigenous students to see themselves reflected at these institutions so that when they have feelings like this, they can look to others who are like them and see them be successful.”
Mary is from Alderville First Nation and attended Trent University for Business Administration – Human Resources Management. Her previous experience includes Lands and Consultation with Alderville First Nation and working as the Indigenous Enrolment Advisor at Trent University. She is excited to now be part of the Indigenous Student Services team at Fleming College.
“This role is holistic in support from a student’s perspective. From my own experience, I’ve realized how important it is for Indigenous students to feel welcomed and connected when they come to post-secondary. And I’m grateful to be a part of that experience with students,” said Mary, who looks forward to watching new students transition to college life and see where their journey takes them after Fleming.
“I believe there are great supports here for Indigenous students,” said Mary. “The students that I have met so far at Fleming have truly made me feel like I belong here. The sense of community that they are helping to create is really cool to see. I feel like anyone would be lucky to be a part of it– only you can really choose whether Fleming is the right choice for you, so please come visit!”