I feel very fortunate to be the inaugural director of Student Academic Success Services. I began working at the Writing Centre in 1996 when I was a graduate student at Queen’s; since then, I’ve marked countless student papers, supported students and faculty in writing appointments and workshops, and taught writing courses at Queen’s and the Royal Military College—even one via radio.
I think that what we do at SASS is a really important part of helping students recognize their own abilities, enhance their skills, and move forward academically, professionally, and personally. We are lucky to work with students from a variety of academic and cultural backgrounds as well as partner with so many passionate educators on campus, both faculty and staff.
Johanna Amos, PhD
Academic Skills & Writing Specialist
I support students in both the academic skills and professional writing programs at SASS, and love working with students to identify the learning and writing strategies that will work best for them. Since completing my PhD at Queen’s in 2014, I have coordinated SSHRC-funded research projects, taught courses in fashion and textile history, and worked in SASS’ Writing, English Language, and Academic Skills programs.
Outside my role at SASS, I continue to research and write in the fields of textile and dress history, and collaborate on a series of projects rooted in accessible and inclusive pedagogies. I draw upon my experiences in the classroom and as an academic to help students at all levels understand the expectations of university and support them as they develop as researchers, writers, and thinkers.
Gail Eaton-Smith, MA, MEd
Academic Skills and Learning Specialist
I work individually with students to improve and develop more effective academic skills, while supporting their transition from high school or beyond to university and helping them understand their disability in a new environment.
My background is in education, with a special interest in learning disabilities and attention disorders. During my twenty years at Queen’s, I have worked with students from all faculties and departments, across all disciplines, and at every level.
Alyssa Foerstner, BA, MA
Academic Skills Support Coordinator (EAL)
My role at SASS is to help students who speak English as an additional language be as successful in their studies as possible. I love working with students from a diversity of cultural backgrounds and feel privileged to play a role in promoting internationalization at Queen’s.
I know first-hand the kinds of challenges that students face when studying in an additional language, and I work to combine this understanding with my knowledge of best practices in internationalization and globalization.
Whether you are an international student here on a short-term exchange, or a domestic student who speaks another language at home, it would be my pleasure to meet with you to work on your language skills together.
I coordinate many of SASS’ outward-facing programs, working closely with peers, student groups, professional staff, and faculty to develop and deliver workshops and programs on academic and writing skills at all levels. After completing my undergraduate education in Russia and England, I completed a PhD at the University of Toronto and taught languages at school and university level. I have published translations and research in various journals and popular publications, and a book manuscript based on my doctoral work is due for release in 2021.
Lindsay Heggie, PhD
Academic Skills Specialist
I provide one-on-one support to Queen’s students who want to refine and improve the efficiency or effectiveness of their academic work. What does that mean? For some, it’s taking better notes, or maintaining a functional schedule that doesn’t leave you exhausted, or improving your understanding and recall of information. I love talking to people and problem-solving their unique challenges. I also lead SASS’s graduate student programming, from resource creation to Grad Writing Lab to Dissertation Bootcamp.
When I’m not meeting with students, I keep up to date on the literature in psychology and higher education to ensure that what we recommend to students is consistent with the best evidence available.
Leslie Paterson, BA (Hons), CYW, BEd, MEd
Manager (1:1 Programs)
I manage SASS’ academic skills and professional writing programs. In these programs, our trained staff meet 1:1 with students to work on academic skills, including avoiding procrastination, reducing academic-related stress, and working on all stages of the writing process.
My background is in student accessibility, teaching, and learning strategies. I believe that students have individual, unique strengths and challenges that play into their life as a student, and my hope is to help students see and use their strengths, and view difficulties as an opportunity for growth and development.
Mikayla Sebesta, BA(Hons), MA
Academic Transitions and Peer Programs Coordinator
My role at SASS is to support our Academic Transition and Peer Programs including Peer Writing Assistants, Peer Learning Assistants, Bounce Back Mentors, and the programs they facilitate. As an undergraduate student, I regularly met with Peer Writing Assistants and gained confidence in my academic abilities by attending SASS workshops. I am excited to support the wonderful work that SASS does and the peer volunteers who dedicate their time to helping fellow students.
My background working and as Teaching Assistant and with Queen’s Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources has demonstrated that all students approach and experience university and academics differently. I am privileged to support programs that work to meet students where they are and equip them with the resources to be successful. While working at SASS, I am also completing my Master of Arts in Gender Studies focusing on the practice of surrogacy in Canada.
Lydia Skulstad, BA, MA, TESL Canada Standard Three [Permanent]
Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator
My role supports the academic success of international and EAL students at Queen’s through coordinating programming and resources that meet their needs, and it is a partnership between SASS and QUIC. Before coming to Queen’s, I completed my MA in TESOL and TESL Canada certification, and I have worked as an educator in Korea, Canada, and the United States. My roles have included managing programs and services for international students, teaching and developing curriculum in academic and community-based contexts, and leading workshops and trainings for teachers and volunteers.
Meet our SASS Writing Consultants
Writing Centre staff come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Many are professional writers or editors. Others are teachers, professors, musicians, and graduate students.
Andrea Reid (EAL Program)