(Rima Aristocrat, in her office at Willis College)
“Here, I did this for you.” Rima’s grandmother handed her the Medical degree which she had just completed.
“What is this?” Rima asked.
“I want you to know that it is never too late to study or to do what you want to do.” Her grandmother told her. After raising her six children, Rima’s grandmother, Tamara, went to university in her 60’s to study medicine although she never practiced as a medical doctor. However, she created a lifelong impression in the mind of the young eleven year old Rima, her first grandchild – that it is never too late to follow your dreams or to learn something new. Rima fondly recollected this memory during a business lunch meeting with her. She spoke with great love of her four daughters, her five grandchildren, women, newcomers to Canada and youth who are very dear to her heart. “I want to leave something better for my grandchildren.” She said reflectively. Her grandmother had a profound impact on her life as she thinks of the legacy she wants to leave behind.
So who is Rima? Rima Aristocrat is the President and CEO of Willis College in Ottawa. I first met her at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony of Willis College of which my son Jelan was a graduate. I was drawn to her presence immediately. She radiates light and love miles from where she stands. Jelan speaks about his teacher, Ed Mahonny and Rima in the most positive light. “Mom, the principal comes into our classroom and chats with us about everything in life. Her door is always open and we can always go to her. I have never felt so much love in a school.” This is only a small description of this brilliant award-honored woman who has continued the legacy of Willis College which was founded in 1896 by Stephen T. Willis. Ownership of the College was transferred to the Aristocrat family in 1989 and she is the 4th President and CEO of the College. Willis College is the oldest Career College in Ottawa and it is notably unique as an employer led institution which has transitioned over the years from business and language training to diversifying the College offerings in Technology, and Healthcare. Willis College prides itself in preparing students to meet the needs of employers and getting students in the workforce as quickly as possible.
(Below, the graduating class of 2015 with honoured guest, professors and Rima)
Rima migrated to Canada from Eastern Europe many years ago. She came here as a concert pianist with a Master’s degree in education. Over the years, she has reinvented herself, used her transferrable skills and exercised leadership skills in several programs and initiatives which has all contributed towards where she is today.
For more information about Willis College, please visit http://williscollege.com/
What legacy did your grandparents leave for you? What legacy do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?