Campus Life

Cowie views SOS support as freeing up students to be their best

Asheley Cowie’s enthusiasm is contagious. Her voice bubbles with positive energy, especially when she starts talking about her job at the University of Lethbridge. Even the name of the position (the tongue-twisting title of Coordinator of Orientation and Transition, Enrolment Services) isn’t enough to slow down Cowie’s rapid-fire dialogue. She’s bursting with energy, and she credits a lot of it to the passion she has for her job.

Asheley Cowie sees herself as the beneficiary of her own SOS donations.

“The work is very hands on and I love it,” says Cowie. “Students are the best – they are energetic and optimistic, and they constantly give their all. Helping them is a joy. I really can’t articulate how much admiration I have for people who embark on the journey through university. Whatever helps students start out on the right foot or makes things less stressful for them, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Aside from daily interactions with students when she’s providing answers to every conceivable question a new student might have, Cowie goes beyond the call of duty and puts her money where her mouth is. She’s been a contributor to the U of L Supporting Our Students (SOS) initiative since 2009, and says backing up her work with dollars simply makes good sense.

“My job is to help students. That’s what I’m paid to do. Working one-on-one with students every day has given me a really good sense of the challenges they face, and financial pressure is very real for a lot of them. If my role here is to assist those students, then financial assistance is part of my job. Yes, it’s voluntary, but it’s also a win/win situation. When I contribute to SOS, I’m not just helping students – I’m fostering an environment where I can thrive as well.”

Cowie paid her own way as a university student, and contrary to the notion that everyone should do the same, Cowie takes the position that she’d rather make the road toward a degree easier to travel for those behind her.

“I got through university working a variety of jobs, and it was really tough. I see students who struggle, and I see those whose burden is lightened by virtue of someone else’s financial generosity. The gift of that is incredible. For a student to be able to focus on their studies, and not have to think about picking up a second or even third job to cover the bases financially – that’s invaluable to them. It’s motivating and humbling, and it helps to foster the kind of climate on campus I think we all want to have.”

Contributing to SOS sends a clear message, Cowie says, one that, from professional experience, she strongly feels students need to hear.

“From the moment I start communicating with students, the message is, I’m here for you. I’ve got your back – you’re not alone. The SOS program is a way for U of L faculty and staff to broadcast that message at large. When students feel supported, they are able to give their best. We’ve got to do our part so they can do theirs.”