News, Undergraduate Studies

From Mechanical Engineer to Maths Teacher: Diverse Student Pathways to the Professional Development Program

November 28, 2019

What inspires a mechanical engineer to become a teacher? For Edmond Leung, it was simply the desire to make a difference.

The skilled engineer is currently learning how to use his deep knowledge of mathematics and physics to inspire future generations — pursuing a Teaching Certificate through Simon Fraser University’s renowned Professional Development Program (PDP).

“I decided to pursue a career change because I would rather be happy knowing I could make a difference, than retire wondering if my work really mattered,” says Leung.

So too was the case for Barbara Lafresnaye. After spending many years as a successful Education Manager, a long-held desire to work more closely with children and youth prompted her to apply to the 16-month program, albeit in French.

“I was attracted to the PDP because I’m interested in teaching. Although I’m bilingual, I don't have the opportunity to speak French on a regular basis. The opportunity to conduct the program in French seemed like a great way to improve my language skills.”

Leung and Lafresnaye were two of the student teachers invited to share their experiences at the Faculty of Education’s recent teacher education open house on November 20th.

Attended by current and aspiring educators, the evening cast light on the increasingly diverse pathways people are taking to enter the profession.

When asked about his experience with the PDP, Leung says he felt the program really assessed people as a whole, rather than just focusing on letter grades.    

“I think the team really recognizes that people have value in their uniqueness and differences, and they embrace those who have passion and character.” He added “don’t be afraid to apply thinking you have no chance or won’t be accepted as a career-changer”

Despite making such a big career change, Leung and Lafresnaye both agree that it has been an overwhelmingly positive journey so far — thanks largely to the program’s non-traditional, community-first approach.

“Never have I met a more diverse group of people and felt so close to them, so quickly,” says Leung.