MBA grad grows as leader in Indigenous education
Beverley Roy (Master of Business Administration ’09) takes on new challenges as president of Kenjgewin Teg
When Beverley Roy earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Athabasca University (AU) in 2009, she was a civilian member of the First Nation policing agency on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario.
Now, she is the newly appointed president of Kenjgewin Teg, an Indigenous post-secondary institute and training centre. In this role, Roy, an Anishinaabe-kwe and member of the M’Chigeeng First Nation, which is home to Kenjgewin Teg, leads an institute with an impact and advantage to local students that cannot be overstated.
Kenjgewin Teg opens the doors to advanced learning for students and adults who otherwise might not choose to leave Manitoulin Island to attend a college or university campus.
“I’m a total believer of lifelong learning. That’s what we advocate and share with our communities and our public,” says Roy.
“I'm a total believer of lifelong learning. That's what we advocate and share with our communities and our public.”– Beverley Roy (Master of Business Administration '09), president of Kenjgewin Teg
Unlikely road to academia
It was never Roy’s intention to go from policing to academia when she enrolled in AU’s MBA program.
“I didn’t set out that way,” she says. “I just knew that the MBA was a well-rounded program and that it would prepare me to be supportive and to be helpful in any organization I chose to work in.”
Being employed full-time with the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe police service, AU provided one of the few viable options that would allow Roy to keep her job while advancing her education.
She completed her degree in three years.
“I really liked the scheduled program that Athabasca University offered,” she says. “I liked the structure of it. I knew I needed that for my own discipline. I’m just one of those people that if I don’t have a deadline, I tend to push the boundaries.”
MBA opens doors to leadership roles
About a year after she earned her MBA, Roy began working at Kenjgewin Teg. She served as director of quality assurance as well as director of post-secondary education and training before being selected as president by the institute’s board of directors in July.
Her MBA, says Roy, guided her in those roles and played an important part in her latest appointment. And now, she is on the verge of completing her PhD in higher education from the University of Toronto.
“I think all of it put together really helped the board make their decision.”
Helping Kenjgewin Teg shift focus
Recognized by the Indigenous Institutes Act, Kenjgewin Teg and other Indigenous institutes play a unique role in the province’s post-secondary education system “to enhance educational opportunities for Indigenous students, and to promote the revitalization of Indigenous knowledge, cultures and languages.”
Kenjgewin Teg began 30 years ago with a focus on kindergarten to Grade 12 education, and later added post-secondary programming. Its focus has shifted in the past five years as First Nations communities have assumed jurisdiction over their education systems.
While it still has private secondary school status and grants Ontario secondary school credits, the institute has been adding to its post-secondary offerings.
“We have wonderful college, community college, and university partnerships and that means we can provide access to the community at a local level,” says Roy.
Enhancing education opportunities for Indigenous students
In earning accreditation from the Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council, Kenjgewin Teg successfully passed an organizational review of internal processes, standards, and policies. Roy says her MBA helped her prepare for that process and now the institute can grant its own credentials.
“So just like colleges and universities provide their diplomas and degrees, we can do the same now.”
Focused on the future
To develop its own programs, Kenjgewin Teg will need additional funding. That financial aspect, says Roy, is one of the key components of her role as president.
“I’m really working on enhancing our current financial reporting and presentation systems. My MBA was sort of in this area to begin with so that’s one of the areas that I feel that I can contribute to going forward,” she says.
“Lifelong learning is real, it exists and there's so much knowledge out there we could never possibly learn it all.”
From its humble beginnings to now, Roy is confident that Kenjgewin Teg is well on its way to fulfilling the vision set by its founders: Promoting accessible post-secondary education for Anishinabek communities of Manitoulin Island.
“Lifelong learning is real, it exists and there’s so much knowledge out there we could never possibly learn it all. It’s a process of always learning,” says Roy.