Have You Met… Shannon and Breanna?

Have you met Shannon LaFave and Breanna Crichton from the Learning Assessment Centre? Spend the next few minutes getting to know them…

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Have you met Shannon LaFave and Breanna Crichton from the Learning Assessment Centre? Spend the next few minutes getting to know them better.

Breanna: We have the same place on campus, let’s be honest here, because we spend so much time together.

Shannon: We love Quad — I know everyone loves Quad, but in the summer we like to go sit in the grass and have lunch. It’s kind of nice because the test centre is a whisper only zone and inside, so it’s nice to be outside to see what else is happening on campus.

Breanna: And I really like the living wall [in the Tory/Business Atrium], because she showed me where it is. I just love it, I think it’s so pretty. Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood, Shannon’s just like, “let’s take a walk,” and that’s where we go, and it just makes me feel happy. So those are our two faves.

Breanna: Well, we’re a technology centre, so I would say tablet — but I actually do prefer paper. We tend to write lots of post-its; we have lots of things that we have to remember, and paper just kind of does the trick.

Shannon: We do use Google Drive and Team Drive and all of that, but we definitely make our short notes on post-its.

Shannon: I’ve brought lots of things from home, but my favourite thing is, [are the] pictures of my dogs and foster dogs. It’s the next best thing to having a dog at work. And that’s sort of our happy place — to talk about dogs.

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Breanna: It’s kind of running joke because when I got my job, I didn’t have anything. I literally just had a pencil holder. So Shannon was like, “here, you can take this and this, and you can share this with me.” So I’ve basically adopted her stuff that she’s brought from home, and then she’s basically decorated my side of the office to feel like home. So, she’s taken a lot of that on for me. I would just say that Shannon’s brought a lot of stuff to make my office feel like home.

Breanna: I’d probably say dancing — even though I know that’s not a “thing.” But I’ve grown up dancing since I was four, and then I became a dance teacher, so I feel like it’s something that I couldn’t really live without. And sometimes, I’m just like “dance party, Shan” when we’re stressed, so I feel like it’s something that will always be in my world.

Shannon: And mine is coffee. [Laughs] I’m a very sleepy person, so I like to be caffeinated all the time.

Breanna: But you know about all the cool coffee spots too.

Shannon: Yeah.

Breanna: She’s a coffee snob a little — but in a good way. Good coffee place you know about. You kind of get sick of the same thing after a while.

Shannon: So, I’ve done a lot of traveling already, so I have one last continent — a final destination, which is Antarctica. I really was looking into going to Antarctica last year, [after] reading a Lonely Planet email. So that’s where I would like to go and I think it would be insane. I just can’t imagine going to such a cold destination that’s also so full of life. That’s where I would like to go.

Breanna: That’s a good one. It’s definitely off the beaten path, but I like it. I definitely have not traveled as much as Shannon, so mine’s going to be what I feel like everyone says. I would like to go to Europe, but specifically Greece. I just think it’s so pretty. Every picture you see just looks ridiculous, and the Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. So I would just love to drink all the wine in Greece.

Shannon: I would invite Joan Rivers. She’s my favourite comedienne. I love her crassness, but I also love that she doesn’t hesitate to say anything that she thinks, and that’s just a quality that I find really endearing. I just think she’s a fierce role model and very unforgiving, and I very much admire her. So I was really sad when she passed away — it’s very sad.

Breanna: Very sad.

Shannon: She’s a gem.

Breanna: Yeah, she’s funny. So who would I…. oh, yeah — Ellen! I would bring Ellen. I just love her. I love her show. I just love everything she stands for. I feel like, who can’t love Ellen? But let’s e honest, I would love to just have dinner with her, ask her questions, see how funny she actually is. I’m pretty obsessed with her and made Shannon and I apply for her “Ellen’s Game of Games” — it’s her new show, and it’s basically all the funny games that she does on her talk show. And I was obsessed with it, Shannon said, “you would actually be hilarious on it,” and I was like, “well, you’re applying with me!” So then we decided one day that we were going to apply.

Shannon: [Laughs] We haven’t heard back.

Breanna: We haven’t heard back, but we did apply for it.

Shannon: It would be a great team building activity [laughs].

Breanna: Yeah, great team building. I would love it!

Shannon: I’m just so interested in university governance bodies, and the big decisions that are being made and the kinds of topics that are being discussed. We work with a lot of students and faculty directly, so we see a lot of people, but we don’t really consider ourselves big decision makers. And I’m just very curious about what’s on the plate of a dean or someone who works in the president’s office. I’d find that very interesting.

Breanna: And I would probably say someone who works with exam appeals. Obviously because we deal solely with exams — it’s like our day in and day out, so we see the first level of [the exam process], but only the first level. If a student has a concern about their mark and they want to tell us, we basically say “sorry, you have to go back to your prof,” so we don’t really hear much about it [after that]. So I would be curious to see the steps and the process after a student appeals — the work flow of it all.

Shannon: Well, I’ve done both of my degrees here, and now I work here, and I just feel as a student, and now as a staff member, there’s been a lot of opportunity. I just feel like there’s something for everyone, and it’s about constantly working on yourself and ensuring that when you leave here, you’re better than you ever were before you came. So I like that there are opportunities to keep learning and growing, even when you’re working a fulltime job. I think that’s what it really is for me.

Breanna: Kind of adding to Shannon’s, it’s the growing for the students and also the staff, faculty — everyone who works here. But when you leave, whether you leave for another job, or you just leave for the day, you always try to feel good. You feel like you leave with respect and have been empowered. You feel like a better person, like you’re always growing.

Shannon: Like you overcame a challenge.

Breanna: Exactly.

Shannon: And you’ve learned something new.

Breanna: Ours is kind of a joint answer.

Shannon: Yeah, in light of recent events, we’re obviously very interested in gender equality and everything that that encompasses. We’re in a technology unit that focuses on technology and incorporating it into education, and while there are a lot of women who work here, there are a lot more men. And we’re two young girls that are working in technology, and we’ve succeeded, and while we’ve for sure made a lot of mistakes, we’ve figured out how to overcome them. So we want to see way more women in technology, not being afraid to take those steps.

Out colleague Meghan, she made a comment about how when she first started working here, her brother was like, “you’re going to work in tech?”

Breanna: It was a jokey thing, but I think that’s just a very common, almost biased response that comes along with it. We just want women to be more confident and go for it. Do you have anything to add, I just interrupted…

Shannon: Yeah, I just don’t want people to think that it’s not a space for them, because I think it is.

Breanna: Yeah, there’s room for everyone.

Breanna: So. Many. Emails.

Obviously, we deal with students and booking their exams, and then we deal with profs and booking their exams, and creating their exams, and everything, so the amount of emails we get, especially during midterms and finals is ridiculous. So, “So many emails” would be mine — not in a bad way, just because we have a lot of inquiries. We can spend an hour and a half just getting through them, and then when we’re done, more have already come in.

Shannon: An uphill battle.

And I don’t mean this negatively. Coming into this position, I felt like I had to teach myself a lot and reach out — when there was something that I needed to figure out, I’d have to go ask. So making connections and seeking out answers that aren’t really straightforward and then putting the pieces together is what I mean. It’s a busy job — we’re responsible for a lot, and really, if anything kind of glitches, we’re expected to know what to do, and that’s taken time to figure out.

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Shannon LaFave has a BA and BEd from the University of Alberta and has been working at Technologies in Education since 2014. As a member of the Learning Assessment Centre (LAC) team for nearly 2 years, Shannon assists faculty across campus in designing and customizing assessment for secure delivery, digitally, at the LAC.

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Breanna Crichton has a BA in Sociology with a Criminology specialization. She’s worked at the Learning Assessment Centre (LAC) since 2015 in various positions and is well acquainted with the various assessment needs of faculty across campus. The LAC is a comfortable and convenient student examination centre, and this largely because of Breanna’s enthusiasm and friendly presence.