Ngobia bids UTM farewell


Jane Ngobia, diversity, equity & leadership officer at UTM, has resigned so she can fulfill a role at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). Ngobia will be assuming the position of director of diversity & equity initiatives at OCAD after her last day at UTM on January 28.

It is a better opportunity, said Ngobia. Im really sad to be leaving UTM, but it makes professional sense, it is [in the interest of] career development.

Ngobia started working at UTM on March 1, 2005. During her time working for the University, she has created the International Student Resource Centre, Student Leadership Program, the Principals Advisory Committee on Diversity & Equity, and the Positive Space Committee. She was also involved with setting up the Student Refugee Program, in partnership with UTMSU.

Ngobia maintains that one of her greatest accomplishments working with the International Student Resource Centre (IRSC) was to help international students transition into their first year on campus. The challenges for international students are enormous, and not just international students, but new immigrants as well. Many of them are lost. It gives me great pleasure to see them benefit from the programs [offered] and identify with support mechanisms we provide for them.

Supports for international students at UTM include the Buddy Program, which was established to ease the transition for students new to Canada by setting up relationships between international and local students prior to their first fall term. Once international students arrive on campus, they meet with their Canadian buddy, who helps the new students adjust to a new environment. Buddies are encouraged to often share experiences and to provide support to the new student if needed. Other programs offered by the ISRC include International Student Orientation, Lets Talk Turkey, Global Cafe, Speak Easy and Specialised Workshops.

A surprise party was held on Friday, January 16 to bid farewell to Ngobia. Over forty students [came] with a cake and flowers, commented Ngobia, It was a most powerful moment. Ngobia mentioned her fondest memories at UTM were of times where she could help make a difference in a students life, but more importantly, empowering students to get solutions for themselves, she emphasized.

International and immigrant students expressed their gratitude towards Ngobia. Not only was she able to provide international services for the international students at UTM, she also introduced to the UTM community a vast array of leadership development programs, workshops and conferences, said Lakshmi Geelal, an international student.

Cindy Lai, peer advisor-special projects at IRSC said Ngobia will certainly be missed. Her resignation signals a doleful time for those who work and have worked with her. At the same time, [there is] elation that she is off to explore uncharted territory, said Lai.

Ngobia said she hopes that UTM devotes more resources for international students and new Canadians after her departure. Statistics show that every year UTM is becoming the campus of choice for more and more international and new Canadians, thereby increasing the cultural diversity of our campus, she said. I hope that every department, student club and division embraces diversity, equity and inclusion as its core values. These values [must] be shared by all in the community.

Reflecting on her overall experience at UTM, Ngobia said, Ive had a blast. Especially when it comes to working with students; its been very rewarding, very exciting.

The new diversity, equity & leadership officers position has yet to be filled. Currently, the ISRC is in the process of finding a replacement for Ngobia.