Retired Seneca prof continues to give back
After a 30-year career, Jennifer Schroeder still wants to do more
For Jennifer Schroeder, Seneca Polytechnic was a place where she could fulfil two passions: her love of teaching and her appreciation of all things Canadian.
The retired professor – a faculty member of the School of Liberal Studies from 1977 to 2007 – joined the institution just seven years after its creation, armed with a bachelor’s degree in geography and Canadian studies and a bachelor of education, both from the University of Toronto (U of T). In 1981, she received her master’s degree in adult education from U of T.
“Seneca was great because it allowed me to be who I guess I was intended to be; a teacher and a motivator and a mentor … I taught all ages,” said Ms. Schroeder, who now resides in Ajax, about 45 kilometres east of Toronto. “It has been a dream for me and a wonderful place because I was allowed to express creativity, teach two subjects I love – geography and government – and pass that love of Canada in all its aspects to my students.”
“I had a wonderful career at Seneca and I have been giving back since I retired in terms of student bursaries. I'm grateful for Seneca for giving me the freedom to do my thing”
Ms. Schroeder taught How Are We Governed?, an overview of Canadian government and citizen involvement, for the full duration of her 30-year career at Seneca. She would introduce the course by asking students to pull Canadian bills of all denominations out of their wallets and discuss why, for example, the late Queen Elizabeth II was on the $20 bill.
“It excited me to see the mystery on their faces because most students didn’t have a clue,” she said. “I would explain how we came to be an independent country with a British connection.”
Among other activities, Ms. Schroeder sent students to interview their members of Parliament and finagled invitations to Canadian Club luncheons in Toronto where her business students could network with government and industry executives.
She also wrote and produced 15 educational films on Canadian government for the Centre for Independent Learning at Seneca, including one for which she flew to Ottawa to interview the governor general of the time, Ed Scheyer.
Ms. Schroeder continued to serve Seneca well after her retirement. She sat on the board of the Seneca Retirees’ Association, where she co-ordinated the association’s social committee and set up their monthly luncheons.
She is also a member of Seneca’s Au Large Legacy Society, which means she has included a gift for Seneca in her will.
Her motivation for the donation is simple: as much as she gave to students and the institution, she felt the need to do more.
“I had a wonderful career at Seneca and I have been giving back since I retired in terms of student bursaries,” she said. “This is another way to give back to Seneca. I’m grateful for Seneca for giving me the freedom to do my thing.”