Staff Spotlight: Lyn-Marie Farley
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.
Position: International Student Advisor
Department: International Student Support
What’s the first thing you do when you come into the office?
Find a good 8tracks or Spotify playlist to start my day off right! I concentrate really well at work with good music going in the background.
In your view what makes Ryerson unique?
Before coming to Ryerson I worked at 3 post-secondary institutions. What stands out for me about Ryerson is the value we place on diversity. It is truly unique and beautiful! My first day on the job what struck me the most was that students and staff are from diverse cultural backgrounds and that at Ryerson we welcome and celebrate that diversity.
What is something that you wish more people knew about about your position?
I think some people hear the job title International Student Advisor and assume that all/most of what we do is provide immigration and transitional advice to international students. Although that is an important part of our role, creating and cultivating connections is another fundamental part of our work. In ISS we do quite a lot of programming focused on connecting our students to the Ryerson community and the Toronto community as well so that we can set them up for success and make this feel like a home away from home.
What made you to decide to work in Student Affairs? If you hadn’t chosen SA, what would you be doing right now?
I started my SA journey in Housing at the University of Guelph. Like many, if you had asked me 6 years ago if my dream job would be in Student Affairs, my response would have been, “What is that?” I was drawn in by the warmth, the community, and the opportunity to bring my true self, my whole self, to work. I’ve always wanted to travel for work so last year I had a short hiatus in my SA work and became a flight attendant! It was a very transformative experience—one which I am grateful for; I believe that it made me a stronger SA professional when the opportunity arose for me to come back.
Where is your favourite place to be outside of work?
I love parks—any open space where I can bring an interesting read or fly a kite (which I do more often that I’d care to admit)! Some of my favourites are High Park, Trinity Bellwoods, and Etienne Brulé Park.
What’s your favourite book?
I have quite a few: The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch; Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery; the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.
What’s your top App?
Spotify for that musical connection on my morning and evening commutes and Whatsapp for allowing me to stay involved and connected to my family and friends that are far away.
Name the individual(s) who have made the greatest impact in your career?
Wow, what a tough question! I have been so fortunate to have been guided and supported through my career by some amazing leaders. Amir Solowiejczk & Jessica Brain (U of Guelph) were two people who dared me to dream big and pursue a career in SA when I was graduating and making my way into the field. Tammy Kim-Newman, Glen Weppler, Alex Pitticco & Jess Lang (UWaterloo) took a chance on me in my very first year as a Housing professional and entrusted me with tremendous responsibility that eventually shaped my perspective and gave me confidence as an SA professional. Sheldon Pereira & Clayton McCourt (Wilfrid Laurier) encouraged me to continue to be my authentic self in my work even when I felt different or “weird” and especially in the face of challenge. Finally Jen Gonzales—I met Jen when I was a student and after my first conversation with her I thought to myself, “What a powerful woman.” She has taught me that women are thoughtful, kind, true, and, most importantly, women are game changers—they represent strength and power.
What’s something about you that people are always surprised to learn?
I never learned how to swim, even though I was born on an island—Barbados!
What’s your favourite spot on campus?
I am still discovering campus—I don’t have a favourite spot just yet.
In what ways have you found Student Affairs to differ from your previous work experiences?
Student Affairs is such a unique field. Some would say we live in a bubble—one that I think is pretty great! Our bubble is a safe space, a welcoming space where people are interested and invested in your development. A place where work isn’t just work—it is a lifestyle. I found that to be a very distinct difference from my work experience outside of SA.
What’s your self-care like?
Soca music and reconnecting with close friends always does the trick!
What is something you are doing to increase the impact of Student Affairs at Ryerson?
I have only been at Ryerson for a few months so a lot of my focus has been learning and transitioning to a new environment. I want to be an advocate for international students. I want to work collaboratively with our campus partners to ensure that these students find their fit here on campus and in the community, creating a tremendous sense of belonging. Belonging is not a feeling that comes easily to an international student; in truth, they are very familiar with the feeling of being different and are no strangers to vulnerability. I want to show the Ryerson community the strength and talent that lies within this distinct group of students because I truly believe that every single person has tremendous potential—they just need someone to invest in and believe in it and in them. That’s where Student Affairs comes in—creating opportunities, investing in, and developing the potential of our students so that they can see their goals come to fruition.
When I started working in Student Affairs I wish I had known:
How important it is to actively work on finding a balance between your work life and personal life because it so very easy for the two to be closely intertwined. Now I feel like I have found that and it feels pretty great!
If you’d like to be featured in a Staff Spotlight, please contact Lucas Gobert at LGobert@Ryerson.ca.