ASPA Member Highlight – LaVina Watts, Study Abroad Coordinator (College of Arts and Science Dean’s Office)

Written by Karen E. Mosier

LaVina Watts has worked on campus for over 12 years, having held 4 positions. LaVina’s LaVina 3current position gives her the opportunity to work with departments and faculty members to form new partnerships with international universities, and to create international study programs. Her primary duty is to support the offering of courses/programs within an existing degree programs, to allow Arts & Science students to study abroad and get credit for their course work. This work includes assisting faculty with course development, assisting with safety plans, looking under every rock for student funding, and reassuring students that the extra effort to participate in a study abroad program will be more than worth it in the end.

LaVina believes that she has “the best job on campus!”.  What she loves best about her job is working with students. It is very rewarding for her to have them come back from their travels and tell her their stories and hear about all the things they saw and did. When possible, she takes the opportunity to participate – she recently had the opportunity to travel to China with 18 students. She reflects, “It was an amazing opportunity and a fantastic trip”.

LaVina 2LaVina notes that her business administration background has helped her in her current position. Specifically, she has developed a financial budgeting template for use by faculty who teach classes abroad. The template includes all of the potential expenses, from creation of the course to completion, and has been praised by faculty members as being one of the most useful tools available to them in this process.

LaVina appreciates all the benefits of being an ASPA member, especially the tuition waiver which allows eligible members to have tuition fees waived for one course for credit per academic term. She is a proponent of “lifelong learning” and recently she completed her Masters in Project Management from the Edwards School of Business and is continuing work toward a BA in Psychology.

LaVina was nominated for the College of Arts & Science Dean’s Distinguished Staff Award in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She is on the ASPA Executive committee, serves on the Jurisdiction Review Committee, and she also acts as the ASPA representative on the Executive Council for the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. LaVina enjoys “giving back” to the ASPA community as our association continues to protect the rights of ASPA members. LaVina enjoys the opportunity to intervene to advocate for members when necessary.

Through volunteering LaVina has developed in areas where she was previously LaVina 1uncomfortable, which she notes has helped her to “come out of her shell”. Volunteering also helps her understand more thoroughly how the university works and in particular, the interaction between the different units on campus and the existing processes that are in place. These insights help LaVina to build relationships with other people on campus, something that she values highly, both personally and professionally. LaVina encourages all ASPA members to “volunteer to be on an ASPA committee. This will give you a chance to connect with other members on campus that you would not normally meet and make connections and network”.

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