People of USask: Connie Gerwing

Connie Gerwing (BEd’78, MEd’81) is a believer in lifelong education. During her first time as a student at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), she earned her bachelor and master of education degrees. She taught for a few years and then created a career at Saskatchewan Polytechnic (formerly SIAST) as an education counsellor, where she supported students in their education journeys and taught a few classes. Now in retirement, Gerwing has returned to USask, both as a student and as a donor. This spring, Gerwing will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree majoring in history.

Q. Why did you decide to attend USask? 

I grew up on a farm near Lake Lenore/Humboldt area. At the time, USask was the only choice in my mind. The first time I went to university was in 1966, so no one thought about going far from home. I also had family who went to USask before me, an aunt and an uncle. So going to USask just made sense.  

Q. Why did you decide to pursue a career in education? 

I always wanted to be a teacher. When I first went into teaching, I found that a traditional classroom setting wasn’t for me. I did a master of education in educational psychology and found a love for being an educational counselor. I worked at SIAST for many years teaching a few classes and counselling students on their education journeys.  

Q. Was there anyone who influenced you as an educator?

My uncle was a USask grad. He was an English teacher for many years. He went to Brazil in the ’80s and started doing projects there. He got our whole family involved. While he was there, he sent newsletters and tried to get help in funding his projects.  

My uncle inspired me to go and help others. A while after graduating, I taught in Kenya for a brief time. After retirement, I went back to Kenya with my son, and we decided to start some projects to help the children there including the building of a library, a fence around the school, and several classrooms in the Kinyambu area with Rainbow of Hope for Children.  

Q. Why did you decide to come back to USask to pursue another degree? 

When I was getting close to thinking about retirement I thought “why do I want to do – what am I missing in my life that I haven’t done yet?” And my mind went to learning more. My first love was history. Back in the ’60s, you couldn’t do much with a history degree, so I went into teaching. But now, I could revisit my love for history. I took a number of seminar classes with the wonderful USask history department, and I will finish my degree this spring.  

Q. What do you think is the importance of giving?

I love education, it’s very important for the world. I have been to several countries in Africa and when you go into the developing world you see how important education really is — especially for women.  

Having seen the importance of education first-hand, it inspired me to help others further their education by giving back in many ways I have aided in funding schools in Africa, and I have given back to USask as well over the years.  

It’s the People of USask who enable us to be what the world needs.  

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