Lara Rooke

I grew up in a family of go-out-and-save-the-world kind of people.

With the body of knowledge I got from doing graduate work at Royal Roads, I am actively pursuing chances to make a difference. Completing the degree was an ideal opportunity to stretch myself and hopefully leave a mark on the lives of people who are trying to rebuild after a period of conflict or natural disaster. For example, I have been asked to go to West Africa to support the international World Health Organization response after the devastating Ebola outbreak.

The decision to attend Royal Roads was an easy one for me. I come from a very long line of military personnel, and my dad has incredibly fond memories of his time as a cadet at Royal Roads Military College – his name is on some of the trophies. I grew up knowing this was a pretty special place. The program offerings were very attractive, enabling me to do a concentration on human security as part of an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies.

When I applied to Royal Roads, I was living in Yellowknife, and there aren’t too many graduate-level opportunities in the Arctic. The ability to complete the degree by distance was the only way I was going to make that work. I’ve done work on my MA from all corners of the planet while travelling for my job.

At the beginning, there was that moment when I felt out of my element, when I thought everyone would be light years ahead of me. But the students are mature and share the challenge of trying to balance work and life. When I felt like I was not only getting value but adding value – that’s always a nice sensation. I realized I was not just muddling through but really flying.

I could not have imagined a faculty that was more switched on, that really knew their stuff and were truly invested in students’ success. Online courses, instead of being a sterile environment, were quite warm. All the staff and faculty are consummate professionals. I was blessed to have (program head) Dr. Wendy Schissel as my mentor.

In a distance program you need to own it. You must do the reading because no one’s going to lecture to you. You can’t sit back; you have to be an active participant in your own learning. The letters after your name open doors, but they are only good until you open your mouth. I work in a government environment, and in some cases, having a graduate degree is a requirement to even be considered. Then it’s up to you to sell yourself.

I was incredibly proud to be on campus with my father at convocation in 2013. After finishing the degree, I am a better writer; I am much more articulate; I am more comfortable in my own skin and I am significantly more confident. All those things make me a better hire, a better person and a better colleague. I ended up with a degree on the wall but it is so much more than that. 

Lara is a second generation graduate from Royal Roads (MA Interdisciplinary Studies, 2013). Her father, Dave Rooke, attended Royal Roads in the 1960s. She is a senior program adviser, international visits and protocol, with the federal government in the health portfolio.

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