Occupation: Professor, Faculty of Human Services – Mohawk College
When graduating in 1982, Sue Vattay finished at the top of her class receiving a Bronze Medal for outstanding contribution to the College and community. She immediately launched her career in Toronto, as the Leisure and Fitness Director at Holiday Inns Canada, and later returned to take a position at the Hamilton Thistle Club as Membership and Promotions Manager. Sue has worked as a dedicated and committed faculty member at Mohawk College since 1986, as a professor, program manager and academic coordinator in the Recreation & Leisure Services Programs, and mostly recently in the Recreation Therapy, Child and Youth and Social Service Worker Programs. Off-campus, she is just as well-known as a tireless community volunteer and Hamilton ambassador sitting on many committees and boards, such as for the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, Road World Cycling Championships, Canadian Figure Skating Championships, and the Tourism Hamilton Board in many positions from 1999 to 2009, including President. Recently she was nominated for the Hamilton Citizen of the Year, and in 2015 Sue served on the Host Committee for the JUNO Awards and Hamilton’s Kicks It Up PanAm Cultural Showcase.
What would you tell yourself if you could go back to your first day of college?
Be open to everything and everyone! It can be scary when you first start post-secondary education without all your high school friends in close proximity and embarking on a new career building adventure. I didn’t have any idea of what I would do as a graduate or as a career. I tried to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, network and socialize and be open to everything and everyone. There were a lot of moving parts back then and I am sure even more today. There are so many open doors and you have to step into each one. Sample as much as you can as every field of study is so diverse with so many opportunities. I remember being asked by one of my professors, if I might be interested to assist with a special project at a senior’s facility. I had a lot on my plate but also did not want to miss the opportunity to get some experience with seniors that I didn’t have up until that point. While the work was rewarding and complimented my resume I also realized that I was not all that keen to work with older adults. But it was an opportunity worth taking!
What is one memory or piece of advice you have from your Mohawk days that has stuck with you?
Establish a strong network of friends for support. I was fortunate that the Recreation Leadership Program encouraged strong social connections through both with in class group work and practical experiential learning. I developed a great circle of friends and I can honestly say that I have kept in touch with many of them over all these years.
In order to get through the program of study, new students can’t expect to do it alone. Use your classmates for advice, support and camaraderie. As you graduate and head off in different directions, keep in touch (so easy to do now with social media) as your friends will also provide opportunities to start and build your career and will be the basis of your professional network.