A lifechanging career in education: Alumna and instructor Dr. Judy Shandler dedicates 40 years to student success

In the 1990s, Dr. Judy Shandler, who was teaching at BCIT as well as Vancouver Community College (VCC), was invited to participate in an exchange program to Mysore India and teach at an all-women polytechnic. It was pivotal to Judy’s career as an educator.

“My experience teaching abroad was transformative and shaped how I teach at BCIT,” says Judy, who at the time had been teaching in the Indian city, and two years later taught and prepared curriculum in Peshawar, Pakistan. “I developed a deeper understanding and empathy for my students, especially my international students, who have more barriers to overcome.”

From there, her passion for teaching only deepened, guiding her towards what would become a remarkable 40-year teaching career that centres around making a difference in someone else’s life.

A good teacher is always learning

In the 1980s and 1990s, Judy’s strong commitment to education—as both teacher and student—was evident in the roles she took on locally and internationally.

She was teaching CAD (Computer-aided Design) on a part-time basis at BCIT while also instructing drafting at VCC. At the same time, she also developed and ran VCC’s Employment Access for Women program.

“Teaching has been so fulfilling,” Judy says, who pulled from experience teaching in India. “I have been able to support a diverse range of students looking to upskill and those needing to formalize training that they had received outside of Canada.”

Judy was also a student herself during this period, earning a BCIT Information Technology Professional diploma, which she completed in 2000. Judy went on to work in BCIT’s Information Technology Services department as a Business Analyst and took on the additional work as a Performance Development System Coordinator for staff, ensuring that staff and faculty were supported through receiving feedback from students, peers, clients, and managers.

Demonstrating her dedication to lifelong learning, Judy went on to earn two graduate degrees, a master’s and doctorate in education from Simon Fraser University, completing her studies in 2019.

Today, she is back in the classroom teaching Flexible Learning courses at BCIT.

A champion for positive change

Her experiences teaching abroad proved influential in helping her positively impact students in her career as an educator.

“I try to take the heaviness that students feel when they are stuck, give them a reason to laugh, and remind them that we’re in this together,” Judy says. “My students know that I’m not the type of person to give up on them…I will always encourage them to move forward.”

Judy also shares her passion for making positive change outside of the classroom, currently serving as Associate Director with the BCIT Faculty & Staff Association. She has also been a Director on BCIT’s Board of Directors and the Faculty Staff Association.

“BCIT is a great institution—and the exceptional people who work here shape its ongoing success,” she says.

Moving forward and saying yes

This motivated educator lives by the advice she offers her students: “Always say yes to opportunities because you never know where they may lead. You can always shift directions as you go.”

For Judy, the opportunities that fuel her passion are rooted in generosity.

“I can’t ask for anything better than knowing I made a difference in someone’s life,” she beams. “That’s all anyone can ask for, is to have helped someone improve their situation.”

BCIT is proud to recognize Dr. Judy Shandler with a 2023 BCIT FSA Distinguished Alumni Award at the awards gala on November 2, 2023.

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