CommunityHousing & Residence LifeStaff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Katrina Persad

Welcome to Staff Spotlight, where we give the members of #RyersonSA the opportunity to discuss everything from their own approach to the industry to their favourite literature. Swing by to get to know your colleagues a little bit better.


Katrina Persad

Position: Off-Campus Housing Facilitator
Department: Housing & Residence Life

What’s the first thing you do when you come into the office?

Say hello to our caretaking staff and then choose a tea while my kettle boils (I aim to wow my visitors with my tea selection).  

In your view what makes Ryerson unique?

To make an inappropriate metaphor, Ryerson is the lovechild of historically-stuffy higher education jumping into bed with sexy career-readiness. I love the hands-on experience students get in their education here, and how prepared they are for life and work after graduation.

What is something that you wish more people knew about about your position?

That my role exists! I’ve recently joined the Housing team to reinvent the Off-Campus Housing Office. I’m here to help students become advocates for themselves in finding safe and affordable housing in downtown Toronto, and dealing with all the hiccups that come with off-campus living. As we’re still in the early stages, I’m eagerly gathering data to build a needs-responsive program for our off-campus and commuter students.

Bonus points for RU colleagues! Help me gather this data by sending this survey link to your communities: http://goo.gl/forms/UtDhDqvktl

What made you to decide to work in Student Affairs?  If you hadn’t chosen SA, what would you be doing right now?

Totally selfish reasons: it’s incredibly rewarding to work with young adults and I love the free food. Though I’m still pining for a Pitman Hall meal plan… 😉

If I wasn’t in SA, I would’ve pursued the role of a Clinical Bioethicist. Or become a full-time blogger.       

Where is your favourite place to be outside of work?

If it’s nice out, hiking anywhere my weak ankles will allow. Otherwise, on my couch watching the Walking Dead with a Costco-sized bag of chips #noregrets

What’s your favourite book?

Toss up between Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. And of course, all of Harry Potter.

What’s your top App?

Wunderlist. I’m a diehard listmaker (think multiple folders of multiple lists sorted by due date and scheduled with individual reminders). I also love Countdown+ to track both exciting (e.g. weddings) and mundane (e.g. tv show premieres) events in my life.  

Name the individual(s) who have made the greatest impact in your career?

I blame Nona Robinson for getting me into SA in the first place and John Austin for making me want to stay in SA forever (and by “blame” I mean “thank you for everything”). Eternally grateful to Dean Martin who taught me how to be a gracious and impactful manager. My dad is my #1 supporter and BFF; he calls me at least 4x a day to discuss his garden, human nature, and what to invest in, among innumerable other topics. This morning was “How do I twitter?”

What’s something about you that people are always surprised to learn?

I grew up on the same street as a lot of my extended family so I feel (and act) like I’m the eldest of nine siblings.    

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

Currently it’s the Beach floor of the SLC, but I haven’t explored much of campus yet! Note to my new colleagues: I will trade snacks for tours.

In what ways have you found Student Affairs to differ from your previous work experiences?

I’ve held several jobs that prioritized providing efficient transactional service, which always felt lacking to me. In Student Affairs, human connection is at the heart of our work. Everything we do is founded on building relationships to produce, educate, and support each other and our students. To borrow an expression from my director, Ian Crookshank, we’re here to turn the transactional into the transformational.

What is something you are doing to increase the impact of Student Affairs at Ryerson?

I’m lucky enough to have a student-facing role, so I’ve committed myself to taking the time to really listen to each worried student and concerned parent. Even if I can’t resolve their issue, I can be a source of encouragement and support—oftentimes that’s enough.    

What’s your self-care like?

Self-care for me looks like a drooling pile of sweatpants—I love nothing more than taking a good nap with someone else’s dog (darn those condo rules). In my waking moments, I unwind by travel-planning with my partner and getting some dedicated time on my yoga mat (though it’s mostly savasana…).  

When I started working in Student Affairs I wish I had known:

  • How much SA folks LOVE Twitter (and that it’s just not my thing).
  • Student Affairs is not a zero-sum field—there’s room for everyone.
  • It is so important to be a real person (i.e. not the LinkedIn version of yourself).   
  • To trust the process. Even if it takes you where you swore you’d never go, believing there’s some overarching point to life’s journey is my key to contentment and minimizing existential crises.
  • It’s awesome to be different. Fly that freak flag proudly!

If you’d like to be featured in a Staff Spotlight, please contact Lucas Gobert at LGobert@Ryerson.ca.