Nina Karhu, Manager of Classroom Support and Development in the Department of Instructional Media Services, Teaching and Learning Services, began her twenty-year tenure at Carleton as a Masters student. Over the last two decades, Nina has proven herself as a dedicated Raven in all walks of University life, including Administrative Staff Representative on the Board of Governors.
After completing two undergraduate degrees at the University of Ottawa, Nina enrolled in a Master of Arts program at Carleton University concentrating in Canadian Studies. While completing her degree, she worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant. From here, Nina’s path as a University employee started almost by chance when she decided to checkout a show at Carleton’s performing theatre.
“I was watching a show and realized I had a background in technical theatre.” Nina stated. “So I knocked on the booth door and asked the gentleman working there if I could have a job, and he directed me to the theatre manager. Next thing I knew I was working a full show backstage, and the rest is history!”
Nina worked backstage at the theatre in a number of capacities until a full-time position became available. From here, she became a Technical Director, and eventually branched out to help create Carleton University Event Support (CUES). After becoming the supervisor of CUES, Nina transferred into the position she currently holds in Classroom Support and Development. Now, almost two years into her term on the Board of Governors, Nina has her lengthy career at the University to thank for the insight she brings to the board.
“When speaking with governors, I feel that there is an opportunity to interpret from the staff level to those who may have their own businesses,” Nina stated. “Some of my best conversations came by saying that there is a different way to see the world. [There are] people working paycheque to paycheque, and they have passion and they have drive. Their issues may be different, and maybe we’re not seeing them.”
Prior to becoming a Carleton governor, Nina served as President of the Board of Directors for Centretown Parents Daycare for two years (2005-2007). However, it was not solely this governance experience that led her to the Carleton board.
“I enjoyed my experience at Centretown, but I was talking to my kids about how they can contribute and serve,” said Nina. “But then I realized I hadn’t been contributing or serving in the last couple of years myself. So when I saw that the board was asking for applicants, I thought well why not. I should put my money where my mouth is, and show the kids we can do this!”
Now, Nina’s two kids are Raven’s themselves. Her son is a Mechanical Engineering student, while her daughter completed her first year in the Chemistry program, and is now looking to pursue something in the Arts. As a Carleton alumna, Nina hopes her children find the same liveliness and spirit she fell in love with when she first visited campus.
“I always loved the energy at Carleton. Walking through the tunnels and seeing all of the artwork… peace marches, and different political groups – it all just seemed so alive.”
Nina feels that Carleton is a place with unlimited learning opportunities. Over the course of her twenty-year tenure, she has had the pleasure of interacting with an Engineering student who collaborated with classmates to develop a musical. Eventually, this became an annual Engineering event to raise money for charity. To Nina, this showcases Carleton’s unique spirit to pursue learning – no matter the academic background.
“I love that Carleton is a place where you can be curious,” said Nina. “The options [for] learning are always there!”
When asked what advice she would give to current Carleton students, Nina wants all Ravens to understand that the University experience goes beyond the classroom.
“Make the most of friendships, join clubs, and become part of the larger community, because that will help you when you move outside of Carleton. There are thousands of people with degrees, but spark and passion can only come from involvement.”
Nina also stressed that University is a time for students to find their passion, and embark on their own journey. Each student will have a unique roadmap for post-secondary education, but that is exactly how the Carleton experience should play out.
“There are a lot of expectations on students – expectations from family, peers, instructors and from themselves. Be kind to yourselves. Know that it is ok to change your direction and follow your own path. This is a time to explore and be curious.”
Nina currently serves on both the Advancement and University Relations and Finance Committees. Her term as the elected Administrative Staff Representative on the Board of Governors ends on June 30, 2021.