HomeNews & MediaAlumna Profile: Valerie (Spencer) Keyes ’73

Alumna Profile: Valerie (Spencer) Keyes ’73

Valerie was the guest speaker at the 2013 Alumnae Reunion Weekend assembly. The following is an interview published in our Red Blazer magazine.

1. We last profiled you in 2003. Could you give some highlights of your career since then?
I continue to work in policy and program development at the Department of National Defence. I have traveled all over the world in the last decade, as the lead on Canada-Latin America defence relations, the Proliferation Security Initiative, and job protection for Reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces. More recently, I have been directing various aspects of Canadian Armed Forces and National Defence transformation and change management initiatives.

2. Tell us briefly about your current studies and research.
I am currently studying for my Master of Leadership Studies through the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the Olin School of Business, Washington University. My studies incorporate a wide range of subjects, including strategic leadership theories, and managing change in the context of governmental transformation.

3. What are some of your favourite memories of your time at St. Clement’s?
Spending time with my classmates as we studied and played together – first in the old building and then being one the first classes in the original ‘new’ building. I will always remember how my classmates rallied around me, when I was ill in Grade 12 and missed months of school.

4. How do you think St. Clement’s influenced your path?
St. Clement’s inspired in me a desire to succeed, based on high academic standards and a strong sense of values. As students, we learned to respect one another, to learn from each other, and to help each other and others who were less fortunate than we were. Winning the St. Clement’s Pilgrim Cup in Grade 13, awarded for constancy and valour, has long been a source of pride and inspiration for me, in the face of both adversity and triumph throughout my life.

5. Is there something you learned at St. Clement’s that is still with you today?
I learned how to cope with challenges and to confront disappointments, while at the same time learning how to celebrate successes.

6. Our strong sense of community and extraordinary spirit is important to St. Clement’s, and is the theme of this Red Blazer. In what way did you experience the value of our community and school spirit?
Even when I was at low points, the school community always supported me and provided help and advice. Some of that advice I didn’t appreciate at the time, and only years later realized how important the spirit of the community really was to me.

7. If you looked back and wanted to give advice to your younger self at St. Clement’s, what would you say?
Believe in what you want to do and work hard to achieve your dreams! You could do worse than recall The Pilgrim as a guiding philosophy for life.

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