Willis News

Staff Profile: Barbara Jay

October 11, 2023

Hi Barbara! Thank you for speaking with us today. Can we start with who you are and what you do at Willis College?

Barbara Jay:
My name is Barbara Jay, and I am the campus director for Willis College, Ottawa campus. What I do every day is support students to success. So, working with all the instructors, teachers, and admin staff to ensure that our students have a great experience while they’re here and are successful within their programs.


Thank you! When deciding to go back to school, why should someone consider Willis College?

Barbara Jay:
Willis College has been around for a really long time, and during that time we have had the opportunity to see many, many students successfully complete their programs. We are really skilled at helping you be successful within your chosen field of study. We have lots of experience in supporting students to success, helping them find that program that really speaks to their heart and is something that they’re going to be passionate about and really want to do for the rest of their lives or the next 10 years or 15 years, however long you decide that career is going to be. We have excellent success rates within our programs, pass rates for certification exams within your program, and also employment rates after they graduate from school. So students have a really great opportunity if they join us to be successful when they graduate from their program, and really help improve their lives and the lives of their family members.


What kinds of programs does Willis College offer?

Barbara Jay:
Willis College offers a wide variety of different programs. Everything from IT programs such as CyberSecurity, to business programs, such as Administrative Assistant, Executive Business Administration, Accounting And Payroll, to healthcare programs. That would be things like Massage Therapy, Dental Assisting, and Personal Support Worker.


And what does the “student journey” look like at Willis College?

Barbara Jay:

The student journey at Willis College starts right from the first time you make contact with us. So whether it’s an email that’s sent to us or whether you make a phone call, reaching out, wanting to get information about the programs. So that’s sort of step one. And the journey continues right from that very beginning part to the time when you graduate and even post-graduation. Because as a school, we offer you support and resources and guidance after you’ve graduated with employment. So initially you’re going to meet with an admissions representative. They’re going to go through … They’re going to ask you some questions. They’re going to try to determine with you what program is of interest and you could be suited for. After you’ve made that decision, you’re going to go through the admissions process with that person.

You will then decide which program you want to start in. We’ll give you a start date. You’ll do a bunch of paperwork with the admissions team. You’ll meet with our financial aid team, and they will talk to you about the different options for funding your education. After you’ve met with your financial aid advisor, worked out all the financial details, you’ll wait for your first day of class. We will be in contact with you from the time that you have signed up to the time that class starts. And that first day of class or as you’re leading up to that first day of class, you’re going to have the opportunity to meet with us a few times.

We want to make sure that you’re really ready to start school on that first day and ready to jump in and start learning. So there’s lots of preparation that goes into that lead up time. You’re going to have an orientation, could be an online orientation, could be an in-person orientation. During orientation, we’ll go through a lot of our policies and procedures, make sure you have all the information that you need for your program, and also be there to answer a lot of questions that you might still have that are specific to your program. You’ll also go through some workshops to make sure that you are into your student portal, that you’re familiar with our learning management system that you’ll receive all of your curriculum through, Moodle. You’ll do all your tests and exams, all your PowerPoints are loaded in there for you.

You’ll have meetings with our student services coordinators prior to the start of your program, and then at that point, start day comes. On the first day of school, you’re going to meet with your instructor. Chances are your student services coordinators are still going to be with you in that first day so that they can help to provide any extra assistance that might be needed if you’re still having some computer struggles. After the first day, you’re going to be with your instructor for the duration of your program. You might have a variety of different instructors that join you for your program. They’ll help you be successful in all your courses. As you’re nearing the end of your program, you’re going to start to meet with our career services department.

Our career services department will help you with your resume and your cover letter to make sure everything is in line and representative of your education and experience prior to the time when you’re going to start looking for a job. If you have a practicum with your program, then they will also assist you in securing that practicum. After you’ve completed your program, again, you’ll work with career services, in order to be able to secure that employment after graduation. Best day of all is graduation day, which is usually in the spring when we get to see all the students walk across that stage and celebrate with their friends and family, that wonderful achievement that they have successfully completed.


What does someone’s “first day of school” entail?

Barbara Jay:
There’s a bunch of lead up to that first day. You’re going to meet with us multiple times, but on that first day of school, if you’re coming to the Ottawa campus for an in-person program, I will be there to meet you on the first day. Your instructor will be there at the front to meet you on your first day. We’re going to help everybody get to their classrooms, find where their classroom is located, and then you’re going to spend a lot of time getting to know your instructor, getting to know your fellow classmates, because chances are you’re going to be spending a lot of time with those people, and it’s important that everybody becomes familiar and comfortable with each other. So we’re going to do a little bit of schoolwork that day.

We’re going to walk you through, again, Moodle, your learning management system. We’re going to help you navigate your student portal, answer any questions that you have because we want you to feel really comfortable after that first day of classes. Will you have a little bit of homework? Probably, but that’s okay. It’ll help you get familiar with your learning management system and the curriculum that you’re going to be exploring over the next coming weeks.


Great! And what piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about going back to school?

Barbara Jay:
Go for it. That’s my biggest piece of advice. If you’re thinking about it, take the leap. Go and do it. Put some faith in yourself. You can do it. Have the confidence to do it. But just know we’re here to help and support you throughout your entire time at the college. If you’ve made that decision to go back to school, we are here for you and we are going to do everything that we can to help support you through that time that you’ve decided to come to Willis College.

What Our Graduates Are Saying

Willis College is so flexible for students! My program allowed me to complete all my courses online. I got to choose when I wanted to attend my live lectures which was incredibly helpful around my daily life. This program made it possible for me to pursue a career as a single mom!
Taylor McElroy
Veterinary Medical Assistant Program