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.
Communications and Administrative Assistant
Working at the front desk, I am usually the first person students see at SASS. I help them find SASS services and resources that best meet their needs. As Communications Assistant, I also promote SASS events, workshops, services, and resources; it’s important that students know about the many ways SASS can help them succeed.
My background is in marketing and communications. It’s a pleasure to work at SASS, because I like helping people.
Valerie Ashford, MA, PhD (ABD)
Workshop Program Coordinator
After getting my Master’s degree in English at the University of Guelph, I taught in various capacities (including EAL) at Guelph, Queen’s, and St. Lawrence College. I did a doctorate in Higher Education at Queen’s but left the program just before completing my dissertation, and became a professional writer. Now, working at SASS with its fantastic programs, wonderful colleagues and the opportunity to engage with students of all kinds, I consider myself really lucky to be right where I am. I get to teach students that they really can learn to write better, even if they’re already pretty good. When I see the “lights go on,” whether it’s in a one-to-one consultation with a doctoral student in Physics, or in a workshop for 100 first-year Political Studies students, I feel a wonderful sense of possibility for those students who suddenly get that:
- academic writing is really just about understanding what scholarship is, and
- there are particular skills one can develop to show one’s scholarship off in its best light.
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.
Lindsay Heggie, PhD
Academic Skills Specialist
We know a lot about what helps students to get the most out of their academic experience at university. Whether it’s taking better notes, balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars, or improving your understanding and recall of information, we can help you become a more efficient and effective learner! As part of the academic skills specialists team, I am privileged to help identify the strategies that will make a real impact on students’ learning.
When I’m not meeting with students, I keep up to date on the literature in cognitive psychology, educational psychology, and higher education to ensure that the strategies and resources we recommend to students are consistent with the best evidence available.
Agnieszka Herra, PhD
Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator
I am so excited to return to Queen’s as Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator, working with both SASS and the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC). My role is to ensure that international and EAL students get the best academic support for their needs.
After completing my English degree at Queen’s in 2007, I ventured off to southwestern Ontario and got my MA in English literature at Laurier and my PhD in Comparative Literature at Western. Since then, I have taught literature and composition courses, worked in educational development, and created new curriculum around intercultural communication.
Leslie Paterson, BA (Hons), CYW, BEd, MEd
Academic Skills Specialist
I love meeting with students, learning from them, and helping them develop or finesse the skills they would like to have in order to be a successful and engaged member of the Queen’s community. 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.
My background is in student accessibility, teaching, and learning strategies. I welcome any and all students to come and meet with me to see how we might work together so that your experience here at Queen’s can be rich and enjoyable.
Mikayla Sebesta, BA (Hons) MA (in progress)
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.
Adelina Valiquette, BSc, MEd, PhD Candidate
Academic Skills Specialist
In my role as an Academic Skills Specialist, it is my pleasure to work one-on-one with students to create personalized strategies for supporting them in setting, monitoring, and meeting their academic goals. My approach is to work alongside each student, finding ways to leverage their strengths and build their confidence towards becoming increasingly self-regulated learners.
My background is in Education, and I have taught at the elementary, secondary, and university levels. While working at SASS, I am also completing my PhD at the Faculty of Education in the field of mathematics assessment.
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)