“It took me a while to have my working-class epiphany.”


I think I’m one of the few college professors that actually went to college before I went to university. It took me a while to have my working-class epiphany. I thought my goal in life—like all white, working-class males—was to be a police officer, to keep the streets safe for my mother and my sister.

When I got to college, we had a couple of very interesting teachers who changed the way I think about things. One was a Sri-Lankan Sociology prof. and the other was an ordained minister who taught English. That changed everything. I loved everything about college, and so went on to university. And when I was finished university, I understood the idea of what it meant to be the working class, and I was in no way going to be a police officer. I was going to teach because those two teachers had made such an impact on me.

I went off to graduate school—something a bit extra, because I knew you didn’t need a graduate degree to teach at college.

When I was at graduate school, I met Dr. Steve Page. He was teaching us Soviet Foreign Policy, and he was on leave from Sheridan. He could read Russian, had a doctorate, and at the time Queen’s was looking for a Soviet specialist, and he asked me one day what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to teach. He asked where I lived, and then he suggested Sheridan College. He gave me the name of the Dean, the Sheridan number and extension, and he said, phone her and tell her I sent you.

He sent me. And the Dean said, well in that case, you need to come in for an interview. I went to the interview and she offered me part-time teaching immediately. I demurred and said no, I want a full-time job. She looked me straight in the eye and said, if you have any illusions about teaching full time here, you will take the part time job you’re offered. So I took it.

Then later that week I got a call from Bill Adcock, and he offered me to teach an elective to the General Arts and Science students. He said I could come up with the course. I said how about a course on Canadian Foreign Policy. He said great, and asked me to submit a course outline. I didn’t even know what that was, and he explained. I started teaching the following Monday.

That was my first trip to the Brampton campus. I parked my car, and went in through the shipping and receiving door.

At college, you spend a lot more time with students than you do at university. But I wouldn’t be at Sheridan if it weren’t for the help of Dr. Steven Page.

When I got my full-time job in 1991, I vowed that on my last day at Sheridan, I will drive to Brampton, put one foot in the shipping and receiving door, and the other, and then turn around and go home.

(Interviewed by Jennifer Chambers; photo by Nolan Brinson)
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