Rosemarie Glowa wasn't used to being called ma'am.
Nearly six years ago, Rosemarie became Suncrest College's Career and Academic Advisor, designated for International students. It was then, in year one, when students began referring to her as "ma'am."
After admitting it made her uncomfortable to begin with, she quickly realized that that designation meant a sign of deep respect from all members of Suncrest's international student community.
And that respect has not only been reciprocated, it's been shared by the hundreds of international students that have passed through the doors of Rosemarie's office.
"I truly love working with them. You learn so much from their stories and every story is so unique. We're dealing with people that are 18 years old and they've left their family. We're supporting people who have left their spouse and their children, and they come here, and of course, they're coming here to experience Canada, and make a better life for themselves. To be a part of that is really exciting," she explained when asked what the best parts about the job are.
Rosemarie mentioned that two days stand out in the calendar for her, personally, when looking at the year-by-year cycle in her role.
The first being the first day of snow.
"It's a celebration, and they're out there ... then it's about a month and a half into snow I get asked, 'Ma'am, when will it end?' (My response) 'Ma'am doesn't have the power to make the snow stop,'" she said with a laugh.
The other day? Graduation.
"It's such a wonderful experience, sharing it with them. Their home families (typically) aren't with them. So they create a family here, it's truly exciting," Rosemarie said.
When it comes to creating that family throughout the campus community, Rosemarie said the changes are vast when it comes to day one of the academic calendar, to that graduation day.
Rosemarie added that there are growing pains, and ups and downs, but that makes the end of the journey so sweet.
She spoke of families that have sent multiple people through the doors of Suncrest in the past, and how much that also means to even Rosemarie herself.
"One family in particular, I've seen three sets of (students) coming, because they feel the service we provide, the education and the support is that, that we are doing a good job at something — they enjoy being a part of us," she said.
"Because we are small enough — I make a point of learning their names, and sometimes mangling their names, but I learn their names."
Rosemarie said it is an honour to be a part of their lives, and part of the reunions when students return. Reunions too, over phone calls for Rosemarie. She said quite often she gets a call, with good news on the other end of the line.
"Being shared the information, like when they get their (permanent resident status), I get a phone call (saying), 'ma'am, I got my PR, I'm doing well, I got married, I got a family,' and just that is what Suncrest can offer, is that we're invested in those students. We want to be part of their lives — their success is our success," she said.
When looking to the future with Suncrest's international students, Rosemarie said she sees consistent growth with higher demand, with classes always full.
But, to ensure everyone receives quality education, Rosemarie said not everyone does get in.
For the future though? Diversification through Suncrest's programs will happen.
"We're not doing them justice if we're just accepting everyone we get ... certainly, I can see us continuing to grow," she said.
Rosemarie said through her time in her unique role, she's learned a lot about herself, and a lot about cultures from across the globe.
And as for being called ma'am, it's grown on Rosemarie.
"Now I'm very comfortable with it ... that respect, it's something you get used to — and I actually, quite like it. Quite a lot now," she said with a smile.
For a full list of programs at Suncrest College, click here. The College’s international program options are in business, health care, and technical trades. Small class sizes and friendly staff will help you learn and succeed. All our students are treated as equals, and you will have access to individual student attention and support, experienced instructors, and a safe and supportive environment. For more information on the International campus community at Suncrest College, click here.