At NBCC, everybody has a role to play in supporting students as they learn to transform lives and communities, and nobody takes it any more seriously than Sheila Courrier. For 30 years, Courrier has been supporting learners at the Moncton Campus with a sympathetic ear and words of kindness. She’s not a student counsellor or an instructor. She’s a food service worker in the campus cafeteria.
“I love the students. I never met a student I didn’t like,” she said. “Sometimes they’re having a tough time, and it’s an act of kindness to say good morning and smile and get them a cup of coffee.
“If they need help, I’m there,” she added. “I listen and I don’t judge. I’m like a mother to them, and everyone needs a mother sometimes.”
Over the years, Courrier has developed special relationships with many of the learners who have passed through the halls of the Moncton Campus. Her impact on their time at NBCC has not been forgotten, no matter how many years have passed since.
Last winter, Courrier arrived at the campus early one morning to start getting ready for the breakfast rush. She was a little unnerved to find another car in the parking lot, which is usually empty when she gets there. As soon as she got out of her car, a familiar voice yelled her name.
“It was a student who had graduated 15 years ago and moved out west,” she said. “He knows I come in early so he waited for me. He was on his way back out west and wanted to see me before he left again.”
He’s not the only student who remembers Courrier’s kindness. She returned to work after a couple of days off due to an illness and found a floral arrangement waiting for her on her return.
“It was a student who had been here a few years ago; she came in to visit and when she found out I was sick, she went out and got me flowers,” Courrier said.
“They gravitate to me, I gravitate to them. It makes me feel good.”
Courrier quickly comes to know what dishes students like and will let them know if a favourite is going to be offered soon, and even saves special treats for them. She also doesn’t hesitate to use her own resources to make sure everyone has breakfast every day.
“The students and the staff here are very generous with tips so I’m happy to use that money if I see a student in need, to make sure they get something to eat in the morning,” she said. “I take care of people and it comes back to me 20 times over.”
Because Courrier has formed such close relationships with the students she serves, the end of the school year can be an emotional time. Graduation day in particular is a trying occasion for her.
“I go up to the graduation early, and visit with the students and meet their families, but I leave when it’s time for them to get their diplomas,” she said. “I’m happy for them, but it’s sad to see them go.”
Courrier’s devotion to supporting students has not gone unnoticed by the administration at the Moncton Campus. Regional Director Catherine Black noted that Courrier knows the students by name and goes out of her way to be friendly to them.
“Sheila is a great example that every single person who works at NBCC has the opportunity to make our learners feel welcome and supported,” said Black.
With 30 years under her belt, is Courrier thinking about retirement? No way.
“They’re gonna have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming,” she joked. “I love this place. It’s my second home. I can’t thank people enough for making me part of this team. It’s been a blessing.”