Alum of the Month: Mary Clare Massicotte

Mary Clare stands next to a lamppost with flowers trailing down it

October 20, 2023 - 12:45pm

A self-described lifelong learner, Mary Clare Massicotte enrolled in VIU’s Master of Education in Educational Leadership program in 2020 at age 64. By this time, she had retired from her full-time career with the federal government and started her own consulting business. Completing a master’s degree had long been a goal for Mary Clare.

She graduated from the program this past spring. We caught up with her to get her thoughts on the program, the experience of going back to school in her 60s and what’s next for her.

Why did you choose VIU for your education?

I chose VIU for two reasons:

  • I live in Port Alberni and the program was online, which suited my work-life balance.
  • I was referred to the program by a close colleague, one of the first cohort of graduates.

Where were you in your life when you decided to get a master’s degree?

I retired full-time in 2016 and started my educational consulting business in 2017 – MCM Facilitation & Training. I worked at home, doing contract work, when I began my master’s program. 

Can you share a few highlights from your time at VIU?

I loved working with my cohort and getting to know them well. They were a lot younger than me and most were K-12 teachers. I drew from their enthusiasm and passion for teaching. In the program, learning about educational technology and gamification were two big highlights. Digging into educational theory and program planning was extremely helpful for the academic side of my business.

What was it like going back to school at age 64?

I loved every moment of it! In the first year, I allowed myself to get intimidated, thinking I was not going to be smart enough to be in a master’s program. Once I got into the rhythm and structure of the program, I settled down and enjoyed it. The professors were so encouraging, helpful and inspiring.

I could not have done it without the support of my husband, Ron. While I focused on school, he did all the housework, cooking, cleaning, shopping and dog care. What a generous gift he gave me.

What’s next for you?

I have just accepted a full-time position with the City of Port Alberni as the Manager, Public Safety and Social Development. This position will allow me to use my education and experience to the fullest.

As well, while conducting research and writing my thesis, I recommended a modified framework for teaching adults in professional development settings through a focus on lifelong learning, leadership and a sense of connection. This research is the beginning of what I hope is a continual journey.

What advice would you give VIU students following a similar path as yourself?

To follow their dream and go for it! Completing a master’s and fulfilling a lifelong dream is one of the best gifts I have ever given myself. I am a lifelong learner and returning to school at age 64 to complete a master’s degree was no small feat. However, now that I am at the end of that educational journey, I intend to share my expertise with my professional network.

Tags: Education | Our Alumni

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