I feel very fortunate to be the inaugural director of Student Academic Success Services. I started 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.
I most enjoy working with students from a variety of academic and cultural backgrounds and seeing them develop their skills and confidence, as well as partnering with so many passionate educators on campus, both faculty and staff.
Claire Hooker, BA (Hons), BEd, MA
I manage our academic skills and writing appointment programs, our online educational resources, and staff professional development. I’ve spent the last twenty years or so teaching and working or volunteering with students in different roles at universities, colleges, and schools across Ontario. I’ve had the pleasure of working at SASS for the last seven years.
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)
Writing Workshop 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
EAL Program Coordinator
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.
My role at SASS aims to encourage academic growth for individual students and the university community through workshops and our Peer Learning and Writing assistant programs. I believe that every university student should have the support they need to achieve their full academic potential. My background in teaching languages and humanities, and time spent as a PhD student, has led me to believe that the best support comes from within the student community. Our peer volunteers are the best tool to help Queen’s students learn to learn–and love to learn!
Lindsay Heggie, PhD (Education)
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 school work and extra-curriculars, or improving your understanding and recall of information, we can help you become a more efficient and effective learner! As part of the Learning Strategies 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.
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.
Louise de Lannoy
Andrea Reid (EAL program)