Its name is the University of New Brunswick, and alumna Carey Ryan notes the university’s impact goes far beyond its provincial namesake.
“Sometimes, I think people don’t realize that UNB has students and connections all over the world now, not just in Fredericton and Saint John, ” she said.
“As President of the Associated Alumni, I traveled to other parts of Canada and got to see how important UNB is to the lives of so many people around this country and around this world.”
UNB has 5,500 alumni living abroad.
Ryan has been involved in many UNB initiatives since she graduated in 1970 with a degree in political science. For many years she was a member of the UNB Associated Alumni Council and served as President from 2003 to 2005. She was a member of the Board of Governors, the “Forging Our Futures” Campaign Cabinet, UNBSJ Senate, and the Commons Campaign Cabinet at UNB Saint John.
A big reason that Ryan decided to get involved so heavily with UNB is because she believes that the UNB story has to be told to as many people as possible.
“I decided to get involved because I believed it was a way to stay connected with UNB,” Ryan said. “When people become involved in any capacity with the university, they learn so much more about UNB, and I think that’s exciting.”
Learning how to learn
Now, Ryan has yet another tie to UNB: she will be awarded the Alumni Award of Honour at the Proudly UNB Awards Dinner on Sept. 22.
“I feel honoured and humbled,” Ryan said about receiving the award. “There are so many people who are deserving of this award.”
Ryan spent almost 35 years in education upon her graduation from UNB. She began her career as a teacher, before becoming a guidance counselor and then Principal of St. Vincent’s High School in Saint John from 1992 until its closure in 2002. Ryan retired from education that same year.
“I think I achieved my success in education because of the dedicated and professional people I worked with, but most importantly, the students,” Ryan said. “My students knew that I cared and really wanted them to value education. I enjoyed them so much.”
By getting involved with extracurricular activities, Ryan said that she was able to build relationships with students and get to know them better.
“At times, former students that I meet will tell me about the impact I may have had on them, either in the classroom or some other way,” she said. “When you’re teaching, you don’t get that kind of feedback on a day-to-day basis, but years later, you learn that you were doing the right thing and it is most rewarding.”
A post-secondary education was something valued in Ryan’s family – both of her parents, Justice Henry E. Ryan and M. Catherine (Boyle) Ryan, attended UNB as well as her uncle William F. Ryan, a former dean of UNB’s Law School.
Ryan started at UNB in 1966, spending her first year at the brand-new Saint John campus in uptown Saint John before finishing her degree in Fredericton.
“I learned how to learn at UNB,” she said. “I developed confidence and really learned how to think for myself in university.”
“My parents wanted all of us to have the opportunity to further our education,” Ryan said. “I have relatives who went to other universities, but for me, UNB is this province’s university and I’m proud it is my alma mater.”
Contributed by Alanah Duffey, Communications and Marketing. This story made possible by the UNB Associated Alumni.