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Academic counsellor at Johnson Shoyama honoured

By Dale Johnson Posted: November 25, 2016 11:00 a.m.

John Bird works with over 300 master’s students, advising them on such things as classes and funding.
John Bird works with over 300 master’s students, advising them on such things as classes and funding. Photo: U of R Photography

An academic advisor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, John Bird, has been honoured by receiving the Promising New Professional Award in Public Administration at the Lieutenant-Governor's Award Ceremony.

“The event was a bit surreal. It was an honour to be recognized for the work that I do in the school. The event was a bit intimidating, as I have not been a part of anything like that,” says Bird. “The event was not my world at all, so I did feel a bit out of place. But everyone was kind and great to talk to. The ceremony was excellent and it was great to meet all the people that came. It was a good event. The award has my name, but it is the team around me that leads to my successes.”  

Bird, who is from the Peepeekisis First Nation, has lived in Regina for 30 years. He earned a BA honours undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Regina, and then an MA degree in political science, also from the U of R.

“I had a great time being a student and it helped me tremendously getting back to my life. I have a permanent disability and getting my degrees did boost my self confidence immensely. Being in the classes, the halls, the rooms, the buildings, and the environment was great for me,” he recalls.

“I look back with mostly good memories, even if it was a struggle at many times, physically speaking. And it was, because at the time the University was not terribly wheelchair friendly.”

Now, as an academic advisor at Johnson Shoyama, he helps other students succeed. He works with the over 300 master’s students on campus. He advises the students on classes, funding, and all things pertaining to the student experience in the school.

“I talk with applicants every day of the year and lend them advice about the programs and application process. I work with admissions, scholarships, recruitment, retention, and many other aspects that contribute toward the success of the school. I am part of a team and that is what I do in my job. Whatever the team needs, I want to contribute the best that I can.”

Bird says his years spent as a student at the U of R is an ideal background for his current job.

“My education has prepared me to understand and relate to the student experience at the U of R. I know what it takes to be a master's student, the dedication and the time it takes to be successful. I can sympathize with their lives in many ways and understand their perspective.”

And Bird says receiving the Lieutenant-Governor's Promising New Professional Award in Public Administration is an acknowledgement of the work he does to make the student experience the best it can be.

“The award shows that hard work is appreciated, and I am grateful for that. On a personal note, it just shows that I am in the right place for me right now. The team around me have become essential to my success and I enjoy the atmosphere we create. Johnson Shoyama is great for me and I am surrounded by amazing people that have added so much to my life. Being at the U of R as an employee is a privilege and one that I do not take for granted.”