Name: Colleen (Nimchuk) Spier
Kwantlen Program: Undergraduate – Arts
Grad Year: 2002
Employed as: Lawyer/Mediator/Executive Director
Employer website: www.spierlaw.ca
What are your primary responsibilities at your job? As a lawyer practising family law, my primary responsibilities are assisting clients with simple to complex family law issues, either through the drafting of documents (like wills, powers of attorney) or navigating family law disputes through alternative dispute resolution or litigation. My primary responsibility as a mediator is to assist parties in resolving disputes by facilitating a dialogue that allows them to resolve their own issues. My primary responsibility as the executive director of a non-profit organization is to ensure the successful running of the agency by ensuring that the agency’s mission, vision and goals, as set by its board of directors, are achieved.
What is your favourite part of your work? Helping people and, more importantly, helping people learn to help themselves. A former client recently told me I was their “hero,” and despite not feeling deserving of that label, I am honoured to be remembered as a positive guiding light in that person’s life, at a time when they needed it.
How do you like to unwind/handle stress? I like to sing along to the hits of the 80s and attend Zumba classes.
Who is the most famous person you've ever met? David Suzuki.
If you had a time machine and could have lunch with anyone living or dead, who would it be? Lucille Ball and Edgar Allen Poe.
Where does your inspiration come from? Children. I am inspired to undertake opportunities, both professional and volunteer, that allow me to bring about positive changes that result in better lives, and better outcomes, for children.
Where do you see yourself in one, five or 10 years? As I currently feel that I have only just succeeded in finding the place I want to be in my career and professional life, I am hoping that in five years from now, I will have met the professional goals I have set for myself, and will be at a point of reflection and setting new goals moving forward.
What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my academic and professional accomplishments, which allowed me to open my own law firm within two years of being called to the Bar. I take great pride in the quality of work produced at my firm and take pride in the fact that I managed all of my client files with a child-centred and long-term solution-focused approach, in a manner that maximized the use of alternative dispute resolution, with litigation used as a last resort.
Greatest advice for life? Plan your life as you would plan a business! You need to have a plan, set some goals, achieve those goals or reassess your plan. And, above all, take pride in yourself and your achievements… Do not look for outside recognition and always remain humble.
Favourite Kwantlen moment? Receiving my Grade 12 Dogwood Diploma through the Adult Basic Education program, because of the two life lessons it taught me. One, it takes determination, hard work and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to achieve a goal; and two, an accomplishment, no matter its size, is always worth taking pride in.
Upon completing the Grade 12 requirements for my Dogwood Diploma, I applied to participate in Kwantlen’s graduation ceremony. When the graduation evening arrived, I felt too embarrassed to attend, due to the fact that I felt inadequate compared to the other graduates who would be receiving bachelor’s degrees. As a single mother of a three-year-old daughter, and without any family support, I spent some time crying because of my choice to miss this opportunity, which caused my daughter to ask me what was wrong. When I explained my dilemma, she very innocently responded that I should not be embarrassed to receive something I had earned. I immediately hugged my daughter, washed my face, got dressed and drove to the ceremony that had already concluded. Fortunately, one of my instructors was still present, and they insisted on presenting me with my diploma with me dressed in full cap and gown, which I had to borrow from another student. My daughter and I shared in this honour, which became my favourite Kwantlen moment.
What's the last book you read? Goodnight Lady by Martina Cole
What's currently on your iPod? Adele.
Final Thoughts? When I stepped foot in Kwantlen for the first time, I was a 25-year-old single mom, with a Grade 9 education, in receipt of social assistance, and living in a basement suite. Wanting to provide a better life for my then two-year-old daughter provoked me to enquire with Kwantlen College about upgrading possibilities so I could earn my Grade 12 diploma. This simple decision changed the entire course of my life, and I owe a lot of gratitude to the administrative assistants who helped me register for courses and funding, and I will be forever grateful to the many valuable course instructors (who often accommodated my daughter attending classes), who became, and continue to be, my mentors.