Helping higher education through Engage PEI
Dr. Janice Gillis has a ready explanation for deciding to join the board of governors of the University of Prince Edward Island.
As a triple graduate, she attended UPEI for her Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.
"I firmly believe this university is second to none in its forward thinking and in preparing students for rewarding careers,” the veterinarian says. “It strengthens communities wherever and whenever there are UPEI alumni who contribute."
Gillis joined the UPEI Board of Governors after applying through Engage PEI, which helps Islanders apply to volunteer on more than 70 provincial government agencies, boards, and commissions. She has previous volunteer experience with the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, Health PEI, and the PEI Council of People with Disabilities.
“Members of UPEI’s board of governors participate in decisions which help set future directions through strategic planning. They influence all areas of university operations such as human resources, property, finance, and student affairs.
After operating a small-animal veterinary clinic in Summerside for more than a decade, Gillis moved away from her practice after a serious auto accident left her lower body paralyzed. She said her work on the board is helped by her professional background and by her personal experience as both a parent and a person living with a disability.
“After I had my accident four years ago when I started using a wheelchair, I became very aware of barriers that exist,” she said. “I can offer insights that may not be apparent to the average person, and I have become an advocate for people experiencing any disability not just physical challenges.
“Any time you add diversity to a board - in terms of gender, ethnic origin, or disability – perspectives are broadened and productivity increases.”
With four daughters now in post-secondary school, Gills said she also understands the financial and logistical challenges of having kids in university.
“Education is so important to our province, to the way Prince Edward Island has developed and is developing,” Gillis said. “I'd tell anyone who is considering volunteering to follow your own passions/interests.
"There are many areas available, so get involved if you can. Benefits flow both ways – you meet interesting, dedicated individuals and, most importantly, your voice can make a difference."