Where Are They Now?

Rebecca Yau

Rebecca (front, right)

Rebecca is currently a grade 8 teacher, coach, and athletics director for a middle school in Coquitlam. She graduated from the BPEC program in 2011 with a major in PE and minor in biology, and is currently wrapping up her Master of Education in Ecological Education at SFU.

Rebecca entered the BPEC program in the fall of 2007, with the goal to teach PE and science in a high school setting, and to eventually teach an experiential studies- or outdoor education-styled program.

Recalling her time in BPEC, Rebecca notes her appreciation for the program’s design – especially the experiences offered by Fieldwork – and the passion of the program’s instructors.

“Having fieldwork incorporated into each semester was incredibly helpful in both gaining experience and meaningful connections for the future. There were also plenty of opportunities to develop diverse experiences with student-planned events, research opportunities and clubs. I really appreciate the passion that each of our instructors had, and I still enjoy catching up with them.”

Rebecca, on the BPEC program

After completing the BPEC program, Rebecca took a semester off to travel before starting the Professional Development Program (PDP) at SFU for her teaching certificate. She recalls how she, along with many of her BPEC peers, had confidence going through the PDP program because of prior time at Douglas:

“Many of us from BPEC…felt confident interacting with students and…planning and leading lessons due to our experiences at Douglas.”

When Rebecca first started teaching, she worked as a TTOC for about a year before getting a contract as a high school science teacher. As a TTOC, Rebecca notes that one has to be prepared to teach anything, and that she was very grateful to have had experiences both with PE and science because it allowed her more opportunities to cover a variety of classes with confidence.

After her contract ended at the high school, Rebecca decided to apply for middle school science postings (as there were none available at the high school level) – and ended up loving the job. She is now on her sixth year of teaching middle school and her fourth year as her school’s athletics director. On her experiences as a middle school teacher, she says:

“It is great to be part of such a wonderful community of educators to collaborate with and have the majority of students full of energy and excited to learn. Although sometimes I miss teaching the higher-level science material, I am enjoying the opportunity of getting to teach in all of the subject areas and continue my journey of lifelong learning.”

Rebecca, on her experiences teaching middle school

Apart from teaching, coaching has always been Rebecca’s long-standing passion. After she graduated from high school, Rebecca helped coach her old wrestling team; during her practicum, she helped coach both wrestling and cross country. Now, in a regular year at her middle school, Rebecca usually coaches cross country, wrestling, and rugby. She notes the support of the teachers and volunteers that make the athletic programs possible, and reflects positively on her coaching experience.

Coaching is incredibly rewarding…it surrounds you with amazing people. I look forward to every competition…not only to see our athletes progress, but also to see our fellow coaches and the energy and passion that they bring.

Rebecca, on the coaching experience

Rebecca is the recipient of the 2011 Douglas College Student Award for Educational Excellence, an award given to an individual who has strong academic standing and a passion for community involvement. When prompted about the award, Rebecca notes her gratefulness and surprise when she was first nominated, and recounts her journey at Douglas – which had been nothing short of fruitful. In her first few years at Douglas, Rebecca had been very focused on her academics; however, as she progressed through her degree she gradually became more involved in the College’s community. She began tutoring at the Douglas College Learning Centre, volunteered to run Student Research Day with classmates, and ended up taking a position as a student researcher under Ken Anderson. Even more, she became more involved with intramurals and joined the cross country team, making more connections within the Douglas community.

Rebecca and Rozlyn at Student Research Day
Douglas ping-pong intramurals

“Douglas College started becoming more than just a place to learn…[it] also [became] a place to grow and connect.”

Rebecca, on what douglas grew to mean for her

With the suggestion from one of her instructors, Rebecca also applied for the PHE Student Leadership Conference; for this conference, she was able to fly over to Bancroft, Ontario, to join other post-secondary students across Canada who were passionate about physical education, health, and leadership. She also participated in college-based leadership retreats offered by Douglas College. Through the growth and connections there, Rebecca was able to start up the Outdoors Club at Douglas (which aimed to build connections as well as lifelong fitness and wellness). With many of her friends working in the recreation sector of the College, she also applied and joined them as a fun way to keep busy between classes.

On receiving the award, Rebecca comments that she is incredibly grateful to Gord Sturrock, who nominated her for the award, and who had been incredibly encouraging throughout her time at Douglas.

Rebecca and Gord, graduation day

As a final reflection on her time in the BPEC program, Rebecca says:

“I think that one of the best parts of the [BPEC] program is the community within it and the practical experiences provided. Many of the projects we completed for the program I was able to use or apply to my future experiences teaching and coaching. The program was not just about jumping through hoops; it was about developing, and our instructors were incredibly supportive in that process.”

rebecca yau