Week 2: Melyssa Kerr
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Moose Factory, Ontario, an island close to James Bay, and moved south in
my pre-teen years. During my undergrad I attended the Ivey School of Business at
Western and then did a Master’s of Industrial Relations at Queen’s. After my master’s I
realized that the work I had been doing in Residence Life throughout both of my
degrees was a real passion for me. I was offered a position as a Residence Life
Coordinator at Queen’s and am in my fourth year in the role. Among other things, I
supervise student staff, coordinate student support, and provide emergency/crisis
support when necessary. I have found that I am able to use my academic background in
my work, as I get to be involved with the whole Human Resources cycle, from
recruitment to evaluation. Personally, I also continue to be motivated every day by the
idea that the learning students do within the residence setting could stick with them for
the rest of their lives.
How has sport helped you develop skills for your work today?
I have always been interested in staying active, but I did not discover my love for the
sport of curling until I came to Kingston for my master’s degree. I thought it would be a
way to get outside the university bubble and meet new people, but it quickly became so
much more. Getting slowly better at technique and strategy has been a humbling
experience, and I have been able to apply that patience with the learning process to my
work life as well. I have also been able to improve how well I take feedback in all areas
of my life- it can be hard, but hearing from others about your performance is vital in
In recent years, I have also taken on more leadership at my curling club- my committee
work has helped build both my confidence and time management skills. I have had the
opportunity to volunteer at several national-level curling events, which have allowed me
to practice my problem-solving and critical thinking, while also learning more about the
game! I think it is important to give back where you can, and help others have the same
positive experience -with sport or otherwise.
Why do you consider yourself a leader? How do you define leadership?
I know that I am a leader in many areas of my life, and I take that responsibility seriously. The
most important aspect to me is to trust the people who are looking to you for guidance, because
they bring their own skills and talents to the table. My favourite leadership quote comes from
“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused
on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and
the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then
standing back and letting them shine.”
In every area where I lead – with my staff, colleagues, or in the curling setting – I try to be a
hands-off support, and let those around me try new things while making sure they know I am
always there to support them.