Sarah Goul

When my supervisor at 21 Canadian Forces Health Service Centre asked if I was interested in sitting in the cockpit of a Snowbirds airplane as it flew in formation over Royal Roads University, I couldn’t believe my luck. As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Roads alumni community, I was thrilled to be involved in the Sunset Ceremony.

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

When we took off I had tears in my eyes because I had earned my degree from Royal Roads just last year and now here I was participating in the 75th anniversary celebration by flying in a Snowbirds cockpit. The experience was unreal. I was in awe of flying in close formation; the result of dedicated training, professionalism and teamwork by the Snowbirds crew and pilots. It is amazing what we can achieve collectively when we apply ourselves.

I will forever remember looking down and seeing the campus and the castle. From this viewpoint, I reflected on my own accomplishments at Royal Roads and the life-changing experiences that I had there. Royal Roads showed me what I am capable of, and this flight over the school made me mindful of the potential of humanity. 

I have been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 13 years, and for the past four years I have been working as the Support Services Manager at 21 Canadian Forces Health Service Centre in beautiful Comox, B.C. At the clinic, I’m in charge of staffing and budgeting and when the Commanding Officer is away I get to fill in for her. It’s a wonderful job. It was challenging to balance work and school, but it was so worthwhile to connect with the academic community and expand my perspective. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity. I earned my MA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on leadership and environmental education.

I chose to study at Royal Roads because of the school’s positive reputation and because the learning model appealed to me, especially with my busy schedule. During my degree I was extremely impressed with the quality of the teaching.  My professors and teachers were so passionate and knowledgeable.  All of the staff really went above and beyond for the students. I love Royal Roads. I’m a huge advocate.

In my day-to-day work life, I apply the leadership lessons I learned at Royal Roads. During the leadership residency, I was given space and prompting that challenged me to question into my own leadership approach, and my perspective changed. I learned to embrace my natural disposition, instead of following the traditional leadership trends that dominate in my work environment. I find that we can be a lot more effective and work relations can be very enjoyable if we just open the door to conversation and empower each other through mutual respect and active listening.

The main realization that stands out for me from my studies at Royal Roads relates to worldviews and perspectives. Whether communicating a vision of healthy planet, or motivating troops in a military setting, it is useful consider the audience’s beliefs, values, culture, history and current situation. When we respect the unique perspective of each person we make room to share knowledge and expertise, and to embrace the strength between our differences.

If the Snowbirds can successfully fly in such a tight formation, what else can we do with our human potential? What kind of future can we create?  The possibilities are limitless.

I am so inspired and grateful.

Sarah Goul
Captain Sarah Goul is a graduate of the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies program and the Support Services Manager at 21 Canadian Forces Health Service Centre.

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