One of the brightest smiles and bubbliest personalities in our office belongs to Laura Vizina, our Director of Health Sciences and Public Relations Programs. And perhaps this stems from a lesson she learned early on in her career.
"[When I was] 13-18 years old, I worked in a hair salon [as] the Saturday shampoo girl. I learned so much from those ladies. I learned friendship and laughter can cure almost anything. I learned hard work and exceptional customer service is essential in the work force and I learned that listening is more important than talking, "she reflects. "Everyone wants to be heard."
Laura’s career with Continuing Studies at UVic began not too long after she had completed her first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences. “I believe nutrition education is such an important component of creating and sustaining a healthy society so I decided to reach out to Continuing Studies just over 20 years ago to offer nutrition education to the Greater Victoria community."
After teaching and consulting for a few years, she had the opportunity to move into the administrator role for these programs. Recognizing how much she had enjoyed being rooted in the education side of things, she went on to pursue her Masters degree in Adult, Community and Higher Education. Most recently she completed a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching, an experience she describes as "transformational."
"Lifelong learning is such a wonderful privilege," she says, "and being ‘behind the scenes’ to assist other in their pursuits is why I continue in this role."
"I feel so fortunate that part of my job is to meet many different professionals as the programs within my unit are uniquely diverse. I connect with a wide population of health care practitioners as well as content experts who are specialists in their industry-related fields of study –– these include occupational health and safety specialists, wound care practitioners, dentists and hygienists, and communication and public relation specialists; all these experts are passionate about their area of expertise and how they can best delivery that information within an educational context."
But when she’s not at work, you just might find her out running. This former marathon runner says, "I am definitely my happiest 50-60 minutes into any run. I don’t even think about movement or breathing; my mind is clear and my body free. To enjoy the scenery within mountain trails or ocean views provides such peacefulness."
Although she laughs that while recently running the Edge to Edge half-marathon in Ucluelet, she was so enthralled with the beauty of the Pacific Rim trails that her running partner was getting afraid that Laura’s distraction might lead to her having to perform first aid, a task she was not keen to do that far into her run.
But she goes on to explain, "This is where I find clarity on life’s moments; big or small decisions come to the simplest resolutions through these runs."
And that kind of clarity is much needed. "With two daughters, aged 10 and 12, I must admit there is not much spare time!"
While she feels that the term "work-life balance" can be so over-used these days, she says, "I try to create that space by engaging and supporting [my daughters’] pursuits. I really enjoy volunteering in their extra-curricular activities. They are club swimmers and superstar runners, and gymnasts. I have learned to enjoy horses because of their interest in riding and dare to tumble on trampolines to keep up to their gymnastic skills. Being with them in my spare time provides memory-creating opportunities for all of us, I think."
She goes on to say, "These activities also take us away from screen time and while working on the screen all day is essential, I do enjoy the digital detox moments in my spare time.” So it’s not much of a surprise to learn that she’d much rather curl up with a good book at the end of her day, preferably on a beach somewhere, than watching a movie, which she thinks can be "limiting to the imagination."
When asked what she considers her greatest personal achievement so far? "My children. I believe creating a socially and environmentally responsible society starts at home. Each of us has a critical role in raising our children with sound morals, values, and compassionate ethics. What could be a greater achievement than that?"
Want to learn more about Laura's health courses and programs? Click here