By Erin DeBooy
For Lorraine Pompana, Brandon University has played such a significant role in her life that she’s spending her time in retirement giving back.
Pompana looked into attending university when she decided to upgrade her education, she said. What sold her on Brandon University was it’s long history of developing programs for the betterment of Indigenous students.
Pompana went on to acquire three degrees — a Bachelor of Arts, a graduate diploma in Education and a Masters in Education with a specialization in counselling — while working in student services and eventually becoming the coordinator of Indigenous Services.
“Brandon University helped me at getting my education and also to be employed,” Pompana said. “It gave me the experience and knowledge to work with students, in general as well as First Nations students and international students during my career.”
This was always Pompana’s career goal, she said.
“My intended path was always to be in a position to help my fellow First Nations peers and to be in the position where I could help them in areas of counselling, advising, career counselling, personal advising and also be an advocate for them,” Pompana said. “I found that over the years I was in an advocacy role in many different areas of the students’ lives, and not only the students but also their families, on campus and off campus. I really feel good in that I accomplished my career goals.”
Pompana had many friends and advisors that helped her along the way, she said, both in her studies as well as during her career.
“I am really thankful for all the support and encouragement I received from the faculty at large,” Pompana said.
One of Pompana’s best memories from Brandon University was when the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre opened on campus.
“That’s what the students wanted, was their own centre on campus,” Pompana said. “It was a very big event, the students were very happy.”
Now after a 28-year career, Pompana is still busy in her retirement. She sits on the Indigenous Education Senate Committee and also helped develop the Brandon University Indigenous Alumni Chapter.
Pompana is also involved in organizing a Brandon University Indigenous alumni reunion, she said, which has been postponed due to Covid-19.
“I feel I had a tremendous career at Brandon University, and I needed to give back to the university that helped me and my family for all these years. I wanted to give back some of what I learned to help some of the aspirations and achievements of our future students.”
Pompana would encourage Indigenous students to consider Brandon University because of its long history in developing specialized programs for Indigenous people and putting those programs in place, she said, such as the Program for the Education of Native Teachers (PENT).
“The university in general has really been helpful in the careers and lives of Indigenous students,” Pompana said. “I know many successful students who have gone on to utilize the knowledge they gain to help the community.”
Lorraine received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service in 2022.