Meet KPU: Kim McGill
McGill received a Distinguished Service Award from KPU during February’s convocation
Correction: A previous version of this article said Kim McGill received an honorary degree from KPU. This article has been updated with the correct award. The Runner regrets the error.
Kim McGill is the manager of the community engagement and major events department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and received a Distinguished Service Award during convocation week in February. This award honours and recognizes exceptional, long-standing service to KPU and the educational community.
McGill moved to British Columbia from Ontario in the early 2000s and has been working at KPU ever since. McGill is full of positivity and, as a cancer survivor, does not take her life for granted. She is proud to be working at KPU and aims to build a memorable community for students.
When did you join the KPU community and why?
I started back in November 2001. I had just moved from Ontario and was teaching part-time along with my full-time job in a community living agency. I was an educational support worker at Georgian College during night classes and I loved it. When I moved to beautiful British Columbia, I thought, ‘What do I want to do?’ because I used to work with people who have disabilities. They certainly taught me more than I ever taught them.
I saw KPU’s job posting and I went for it and have never looked back. I adore and feel privileged to work at KPU. The wonderful thing about KPU is how our internal community has grown and developed, yet has stayed true to our roots of serving our community. I have seen a lot of change over my years with KPU, but I am proud to say that the focus on service and community has always remained the same.
What is your favourite story of your time at KPU?
Most of my wonderful feelings and stories about KPU involve students that I have had the honour of serving and supporting along the way. Students have said to me after graduating that ‘You taught me to believe in myself and showed me I could.’ I facilitate learning. Students already possess the drive and thirst for knowledge, I merely present opportunities for that to occur. When students see their success at KPU, that is just brilliant.
This past month I got an award during convocation, and right after, a student was so inspired that they said, ‘I want to be like Kim. What can I take to be like Kim?’ because they had heard my story on the stage at convocation. They wanted to find out what they could take here, so never underestimate who you are inspiring. I had no clue that I would be so blessed and honoured by the KPU community. Every student, faculty member, and staff person, are inspiring people every single day and we do not even know it and we cannot take that for granted.
What is something that you would like to say to people new to the KPU community?
Welcome to one of the best decisions of your life. Faculty members will stop at nothing to make sure you have the resources and financial support for a job opportunity because we are so rooted in student service and success. Whether students thought they were coming for their four-year degree, a citation, a certificate, whatever the case may be, people stay. They come for the citation and then end up leaving with a degree. There is no corner of the university that isn’t there with an open door to support you on your educational journey. So, welcome to the rest of your life.
This is just the beginning and the opportunities are endless. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone early in your educational career. We have so many student ambassadors that we employ in our Community Engagement & Major events and they don’t realize that they could have come earlier in their degree to work with us. In their last year, they are thinking, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’ The networking opportunities and real-life experience is amazing.
What are you working on right now?
In May, we are launching our first ever KPU Community Day event. We do our annual open house every year in October, but we wanted to switch it up a bit and not just focus on prospective students, but opening it up to the community. It is going to be at the Richmond campus on May 27 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. It allows our business sector of the university to talk to individuals, whether that is campus planning or what we are doing in the next five to 10 years, and is an incredible opportunity.
There are so many wonderful stories that students can learn about KPU. It is a real opportunity for us to come together and build on that open house opportunity by having a whole bunch of different zones. We often go out to the community, but this is a way for students to see the community in a different way. It is still in the planning stages, but it is going to be a fantastic event.
What is something you’d like people to know about you?
Everybody over the last few years knows my cat because he has been on every Microsoft Team’s call I have ever had. I am such an open book and I am very rooted in the community. I do a lot of emceeing for different events and activities. I am a cancer survivor. I worked full-time at KPU in 2017 while I had cancer and went through eight months of treatment.
I am a huge advocate of health and fitness. I like to try to and be as healthy as I can, and I love sharing my story of survival. I try to walk during my lunch hours and take care of myself. I am just a positive person because I have the best job in the universe and I work at the best place. I’m still here every day, so that is a gift.