Prize and praise from students
When Judy Pharo was invited recently by engineering students to attend a student forum, she thought the issue at hand was going to be tuition fees. Instead it was Pharo herself.
The students presented her with a certificate of appreciation from the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, representing student engineers across the country. McGill's Engineering Undergraduate Society had nominated Pharo for the prize.
"Judy goes over and above what she needs to do in her job," enthuses Jennifer Crowley, president of the EUS. "When a student has a problem, they know they'll feel better about it after they talk to Judy." Alexandra Karpoff, EUS vice-president (administration), agrees. "She spends every minute of every day trying to make students' lives better."
Pharo draws high praise for her work as an academic advisor, but students are quick to point out that advising is only one of her many contributions to student life.
They credit Pharo with being instrumental in creating the faculty's Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering program (POWE) and in establishing the EngVision program which sends students out to CEGEPS and high schools to promote McGill's engineering programs. Pharo recruits students for faculty committees, attends student meetings and events diligently and provides counselling on a wide range of matters.
"I'd like to think of myself as a gentle breeze behind their backs," says Pharo, "although some students might accuse me of being a tornado."
The 25-year veteran of the Faculty of Engineering's Student Affairs Office says students deserve a lot of credit for their own contributions. "With the staff cuts, we just can't do everything we used to do, so we've turned to the students and started giving them more responsibilities. They've been great. They're so positive and willing to help out, it's always a pleasure dealing with them."