Krysia Bussiere: Designing Woman

By Jennifer Ammoscato

 As an architect, Krysia Bussiere BA ’12 doesn’t want to just build buildings.

She wants to help build community.

 “Architects can affect change on both a social and a physical level,” The UWindsor grad says of her work at the Detroit, Mich., architectural firm, Hamilton Anderson.  

Bussiere doesn’t shy away from a challenge. When told by Dr. Veronika  Mogyorody that the University’s new Visual Arts and the Built Environment program (VABE) would be “difficult and demanding,” she was intrigued. In fall 2009, she enrolled as part of its first class.

VABE is a collaboration of the University of Windsor’s School of Creative Arts and the University of  Detroit Mercy’s (UDM) School of Architecture. It combines the study of art and architecture to give students a breadth of knowledge and experience in both disciplines. 

 For Bussiere, VABE combined very “loose” things like the visual arts with very technical things. “It was really fun,” she says. “Like solving a puzzle. I love thinking about how people move through space, or how architecture or cities can be influenced by and influence culture.  It’s thinking on so many different levels.” 

The VABE program focuses on art in the first two years. If a student’s primary interest is in visual arts, they can complete third and fourth year at the University of Windsor and graduate with a Bachelor of  Fine Arts in Visual Arts and the Built Environment.  If they are interested in pursuing architecture and qualify, in third year they can apply to the architectural program at UDM. 

For Bussiere, the goal was always architecture. “I wanted to study architecture, but I also wanted to learn the fundamentals of drawing and sculpture.”  She spent most of first year learning to draw in various mediums, as well as some painting and sculpture, which is helpful because architects need to be able to convey their design ideas visually.

 “The visual arts classes taught me how to control my hand for Modelling and drawing,” she says. “By second year, we were all so confident in our skills that we could model creatively and quickly in such great volume.”

 Bussiere spent her third-, and fourth-year co-op placements with Toronto-based B+H, one of Canada’s largest architectural firms. “I learned more and more about the architectural process.

I learned about ‘construction documents’ and how they zero in on finer details as a project progresses. Over time, I was given more and more responsibility.”

Through B+H, Bussiere worked on higher education buildings and on the Markham Pan Am Centre erected for the 2015Pan / Parapan American Games in Markham, Ont.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2012 from U Windsor, part of VABE’s first graduating class. The alumna was accepted to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture, and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in 2013 and Master’s in Architecture in 2014.

 Bussiere joined Hamilton Anderson, a Detroit firm that handles a wide variety of projects that include architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and interior design. 

 She initially began as an intern, but is now full time. “While you’re in school, you hear about firms from your professors and get in your mind where you’d like to work based on what they do and the people who work there.

 “Working with Hamilton Anderson appealed to me because they have a great studio environment and take on large-scale projects—but also smaller-scale projects—in the city of Detroit.”

 Detroit, freshly sprung from its term as the largest city in US history to declare bankruptcy, is working hard to transform itself. Part of this includes attracting investors and tenants to its once-bustling downtown. Hamilton  Anderson is one of the firms helping to shape its new face in an effort to reverse the exodus of businesses to the suburbs.

What Bussiere loves about her work is the range of projects she works on. “You’re constantly learning and it’s interesting.”

She also enjoys “the constant dialogue between you and the client and you and the contractor so that the work being done matches the needs, expectations and standards.”

The architecture of both Windsor and Detroit fascinates the grad. “I grew up in the area and want to learn more about its architectural background.” Of particular interest to her is Detroit, perceived by many to be on the cusp of a long-hoped for renaissance. During her UDM studies, projects frequently involved local sites in the Motor City.

 “I think it’s rare for an architectural program to focus on the Community aspect, and the need to create projects that benefit the community,” she says.

 “You came away from it with this sense that you have to be responsible with what you’re designing. We muse about the kinds of changes we can create as designers, architects, landscape architects and how we can tangibly change, because that’s what we’ve learned.”

 This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of View the University of Windsor Alumni Magazine.

Every Day is Different: Ben’s Paramedic Story

Ben Kenter has been a paramedic with the Ottawa Paramedic Service for about a year.  So far, it seems that things are going well for this 25-year old Fanshawe College grad.  He’s helping people every day, working with a great professional team, and doing rewarding and challenging work.  And, as he told Iris Winston, there is lots of variety!


“The only thing that is the same is how a day starts. You come, do your truck check to make sure everything is up to snuff. After that, you are briefed on road construction and anything else that is likely to affect your day…” [then] “nothing is typical”.


Have a look as Iris Winston shares more about Ben and the growth in career opportunities in paramedicine – where one has to “expect the unexpected every day."

Lovely Rita: A Personal Support Worker’s Perspective on Helping Others

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

If you have been looking for Rita Parent over the years, her location may have varied. However, Rita can always be found helping others, no matter where she is. For the last decade, the Tonawanda, New York native has served as a Personal Support Worker for countless people in the London, Ontario area.

Originally, Rita went to school for nursing in the United States, but as Parent recalls, things didn’t go as planned: “When I moved to Canada in 1983, the government didn't recognize my diploma in nursing and I was a single mother at the time.... I was unable to start over until many years later, where I decided to take a bridging course as a PSW.”

 Before returning to school, Rita faced many challenges while raising her young son in a new country. Regardless, she remained committed to helping others, even though she was not recognized as a nurse in Canada:  “We lived in Haliburton, Ontario – one of the greatest tourism towns in Ontario. I became a waitress at Sir Sam’s Inn, which – in my eyes – was easy for me, as it was still something I could do [to] give the customer[s] what they needed. I loved that job.”

 Many people would think that re-entering the educational system after a long period of time would be a daunting or scary task, but not Rita! Her advice to other adults (especially single moms) who might be apprehensive about going back to school is to not to fear it at all: “Don't be afraid to go after what you want!” she exclaims. According to Rita, school can even be enjoyable as an adult! “As a mature student, I enjoyed school more. [I loved] it so much, I couldn't stop! I had to make some sacrifices, but I did it!”

Currently, Rita is a Personal Support Worker for Cheshire London. Cheshire provides attendant (PSW) services for clients in their own homes, to assist them with healthcare and daily living. She feels very fortunate to have found her calling in this field: “I was lucky to find a great job where I have to utilize all of my skills at a client’s home. My job gives an individual the care they need and the opportunity to live independently.” Rita has also been able to “learn and grow” from the many individuals she has worked with, including award-winning, Paralympic Athlete, Tammy McLeod.

 Personal Support Work and athleticism are not often thought of as two things that go hand-in-hand, but it turns out that they do!  Parent and McLeod excelled together when Rita worked as Tammy’s caregiver and sports assistant in boccia ball. Tammy McLeod is a member of the Canadian Paralympic Boccia Ball Team. Rita says that working with Tammy was the “most rewarding part” of her job as a PSW: “I learned so much about boccia ball through the eyes of many athletes with disabilities. Not only did I assist and care, but I became close friends with many people all over the world. I'm very grateful for the experiences!” Although she is no longer involved with sport, Rita says she keeps “a close watch” on Tammy and her career.

Rita Parent admits that being a personal support worker is “a very demanding occupation. It's not meant for everyone, but if you have what it takes you'll go far. You need to be compassionate and love your work....” For her, “there is no doubt... that the healthcare field is the way to go, and we are in great need of PSWs.... I hope I'm not too wishy-washy, but I really love my job!”

Healing Waters

by Carol Crenna

Chelsea Kanstrup (BCom ’12) is in for the long haul. Three years ago, Kanstrup started with the privately -funded charity Mercy Ships as a cooperative student. After graduating, her dedication and passion were recognised and she was hired as director of Donor Relations.  

In fact, working in non-profit management was one of her goals when choosing UVic’s BCom program. Business Class caught up with Kanstrup to find out about Mercy Ships and why she decided to embark on the voyage.

What Does This Organization Do?

Mercy Ships is a privately-funded charity that sends hospital ships with medical teams to impoverished countries to provide free medical care, physician training, and community support. It has 16 global offices including Mercy Ships Canada, based in Victoria. Its Africa Mercy is the world’s largest charity hospital ship, staffed by 1,600 volunteers from around the world.  

How Has It Made a Difference?

In existence for 35 years, Mercy Ships has treated 572,000 patients in 54 countries, conducted 67,000 surgeries, delivered services to over 2.42 million, valued at over $1 billion. It serves people free-of-charge without regard for race or religion.

Why Was It Launched?

Mercy Ships was started by an American Christian group to serve the estimated one billion people who lack basic healthcare, particularly in Africa, where 50 percent of the population has no access to a doctor. The organization deemed that a ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art hospital because 75 per cent of the world’s population lives within 150 kilometres of a port city.

What Results Have You Seen?

When in Congo, I saw a blind mother being led by her young daughter to the ship to have cataract surgery. After surgery, she regained her sight, which resulted in her daughter attending school, no longer having to care for her mother, and her mother getting a job to support the family and become a better community member.

I witnessed one-on-one training. In Congo, a doctor from Togo came for cataract surgery training. Before the instruction, it took him 20 minutes to do each surgery; he performed 400 surgeries per year (in 2010). After training, he could complete the procedure in 10 minutes, and this year he performed 2,000 cataract surgeries. He now voluntarily teaches other surgeons.

What Are You Working On?

My third-party fundraising work includes bake sales, discount coupon books, and collaborating with restaurants that donate money from a menu item purchased — small outlets that have added up to substantial funding over time. We also organize campus networks at 11 universities across Canada with hundreds of student volunteers.

Africa Mercy is heading to Cotonou, Benin, where volunteers plan to do over 2,300 surgeries, treat 18,000 at dental and eye clinics, and train 160 Beninois healthcare professionals.

Why Is Philanthropy Important?

It was instilled in me not to take for granted that I was born a woman within a supportive family within a supportive community within a supportive country. It’s not just right to be philanthropic and help others; it makes you feel good.

What appeals to you about working for Mercy Ships?

I love Mercy Ship’s mission; helping so many individuals in need through surgeries is amazing, yet educating individuals increases the capacity of our efforts, and works to stop the need itself. 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in Business Class Magazine, a publication of the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria.    

Taking the Long Way to Medical Radiation Technology

By: Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

Lynn Watson-Lee took the long path to Medical Radiation Technology. She went to Saint Mary's University in Halifax right after graduating from high school, and ran out of money before she was able to finish her B.Sc., so she got a job at a local nursing home and trained as a Personal Support Worker. Eventually, she finished her B.Sc., and continued to work in healthcare. When she moved to London in 2004, Lynn started working with VON, doing home care. She enrolled in the MRT program at Fanshawe College in 2006, and graduated in 2009, with her MRT(R) designation.

Lynn loved the scientific aspects of the courses she took: "While the majority of my job is patient care and radiographic positioning, I like that I know about radiation and how the machines work; how x-rays are created, how they interact with body tissues, how the images are actually created, etc. I still tutor Medical Radiation Physics and enjoy it a lot."

According to Lynn, there is no typical day in X-Ray: "We have three main x-ray departments at UH (London Health Science Centre): General Radiology on the second floor, and Emergency Radiology in the ER, plus the Fowler-Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic at UWO. In General, we mostly image patients who are going to see surgeons in Orthopaedics, Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, or other specialties. We also have portable X-ray machines for inpatients who are unable to come down to the department for imaging. Sports Med is primarily Ortho, but we may also see some of the students who get referred over. Plus we see any Inpatients who may need follow-up imaging after procedures or when their condition changes. The x-ray area in the Emergency department pretty much just does whatever the ER docs need to see to understand what's going on. We don't see as much trauma as Victoria Hospital does, but I do have a lot of very interesting stories. We also run fluoroscopy (real-time, video x-ray) in Operating Rooms and procedure rooms. The vast majority of people who come through the healthcare system need imaging of some sort to support their diagnosis, treatment, or management of disease. We are 'open' 24/7/365, and provide a vital service."

 Although she always knew she wanted to be in the frontline of healthcare, MRT was not always where she imagined herself. She once considered Medical School, but realized that it might be too much. With her MRT position, Lynn finds a perfect balance; in which she can help others, and also see them.

 When asked what advice she would give those interested in the field, she had this to say: "Get out and work at a few different hospitals. I was hired where I trained, but one of the best things I did was take a contract position at another hospital. I learned different equipment, routines, and procedures, which only served to help me think "outside the box" on a regular basis. Also, shadow a MRT before you apply to the program. A lot of people have no idea what we really do. It is a very physically demanding job, and can also be psychologically and emotionally draining - especially when we are working in the morgue, OR, ICU, or ER.3.