By Joseph Mathieu

Jen Sugar, a self-proclaimed “Carleton lifer,” graduated from the university in 1995 with an honours degree in Psychology. After completing an MA at the University of Ottawa, she returned to Carleton in 1996 and began work at Counselling and Student Life Services (CSLS).

Back then, CSLS was the precursor for many student support initiatives that followed, so Sugar had a chance to experience myriad service areas early in her career. In the years that followed, Sugar worked in Undergraduate Recruitment and in Awards and Financial Aid before landing in Admissions Services.

Jen Sugar

Director of Admissions Services Jen Sugar

Her work has always directly helped students succeed, in academic and personal ways. She makes an effort to help the Carleton community outside the boundaries of her formal roles as well.

In 2013, Sugar served on the task force that created Carleton’s Strategic Integrated Plan. And while she was assistant director of Admissions, she worked with what was then Equity Services over five years, creating and facilitating anti-homophobia workshops for more than 1,500 faculty, staff and students.

“As I gave these presentations for staff and student leaders, I heard repeatedly how much they meant to people,” she says.

After one such workshop, a young queer woman tearfully told her that she now knew she could be happy because she saw Sugar was happy.

“Representation is so important for young queer people because they often don’t see people like them,” she says.

“Their parents and family members are often straight, and so it’s crucial for queer youth to see themselves represented.”

In whatever role she plays, she regularly asks herself: “Am I supporting students and making their lives better? And is what I do supporting the academic endeavour of the university?”

Today, Sugar is director of Admissions. She believes strongly in the Carleton mission that says through higher education the university contributes to the greater good of society.

“As universities, we help students grow and change in so many ways, and that growth is critical,” says Sugar.

“Our graduates will take the knowledge and the skills they learn here, and they will literally change the world.”

She believes that Carleton can help its 2SLGBTQ+ community feel more included by doing basic things such as calling people by their chosen name, using their pronouns and remembering that heterosexual or cisgender isn’t the automatic default.

Straight and cisgender people should also consider becoming allies to the queer community in their everyday lives, she says, “because 2SLGBTQ+ folks need all the allies we can get.”

Celebrating Pride Month: Students Need to See People Like Them

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Monday, June 7, 2021 in ,
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