Hi! My name is Jenika Heim, and I am the EducationUSA adviser in Canada. I live in Ottawa, but I am originally from Walnut Creek, California, near San Francisco. I have an undergraduate degree from University of California, Davis (Go Aggies!) in History and Communications, and a Master’s degree from San Diego State University in Women’s Studies.
If you like Astrology, I’m a Leo, or if you are more of a Meyers-Briggs person, I’m an ESFP. Both things should let you know that I am extrovert that likes the spotlight. As an oldest child, I was the emcee at family talent shows. I am the one people hand the directions to when a new game is opened. On vacation, I would rather spend two weeks slowly exploring one city then bouncing around to a new place every day. I am married to a Quebecer, so I’m learning French, and we have the cutest black lab mix in the world named Spooky.
I am most passionate about …
I really love helping students with wherever they are at. Often, when I speak to them, they are at a crossroads. Sometimes the answers we explore are around university admissions, but sometimes they just need to talk things out with an adult that is listening. While I love getting students into the university of their dreams, I am grateful for the smaller moments along the way. Because the admissions process calls for students to be vulnerable, they sometimes share things about themselves that they don’t tell many people. I am happy to be a positive support person and hopefully give them the empathy and positive feedback they need.
When I’m not on the road …
I like to stay active, so I try to run or do yoga daily. I have learned how to cross-country ski to make the most of beautiful Gatineau Park in the wintertime.
My partner and I have a cottage on a lake that we spend much of our time at in the summer. My favorite cottage hobbies are playing with my dog, kayaking, playing board games, building puzzles, and hanging out on the dock with friends. I am also in a book club, so I can often be found reading.
Why I chose this career?
When I look back at my work experience, although I have not had a linear career path, I have always been in education. I have always been drawn to environments where I can teach and coach, particularly high school or college students. I am from the United States and completed my education there. After moving to Ottawa, I found the job posting for EducationUSA and it felt like the job was written for me! Between my life experience and various education jobs, I had gathered all the tools to be successful in this role.
The good, and the good (vs the not so good) …
Of course, helping the students and their families is the best part! Especially when I can ease a student’s anxiety about the process, even just a bit. I also really like public speaking and educating, so I run a lot of events and webinars to help inform counsellors and families. It feels great when I get positive feedback, especially on topics students think will be boring, like learning about the SAT.
I really like the types of things I get to do in my work, so rather than what I like least, I will make a wish to have summers off!
The one thing I’ve really recognized and become more aware of as a result of living amid a pandemic is …
Before becoming an EducationUSA adviser, I worked from home and been an online teacher, so I had already built up a strong skill set in running effective online events and meetings. Because of that I pivoted to going fully virtual quickly, implementing new programming the week we started at-home work. I have created some cool innovative programs that I will keep doing into the future, and I hope that they demonstrate that you do not need to travel all the time to get important information out to a significant number of students.