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HWW: Muditha Heenkenda

Building communities, allies, and partnerships is an important part of post-secondary and life generally. We welcome you to get to know the members of our Selkirk College community!

Muditha Heenkenda, Instructor,  Environment and Geomatics

What drove you to become a professor?

I would say I grew up with books – seeing my parents teaching mathematics, science, and arts because my both parents were teachers. As a little girl, I used to imitate them and tried to teach my younger brother. I think that is where I started my interest to be a teacher. After completing my Master of Geoinformation Science degree at the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, I was hired at the University of Twente, the Netherlands as a lecturer in Surveying and Photogrammetry. I loved it and found myself as a strong and successful teacher there. However, I decided to upgrade my knowledge and moved to Charles Darwin University, Australia to do a PhD. Once I have completed my studies, we moved to Canada. I was hired at Selkirk College shortly after landing to Canada and this is my first job in Canada. It turned out I must have been good at it as I am receiving lot of appreciation and I have received the SCOPE award last year. 

What inspires you to continue being a professor?

Students and the ever changing technology I am dealing with! I am learning from students every day, when they understand concepts and making nice maps – I am delighted and inspired. Then I don’t think about the time and effort put together to get updated with the new technology and incorporating them to the classroom. That is how I ended up developing two new courses addressing cutting edge remote sensing technology last year.     

If there is one thing you could change about academia, what would it be?

More scholarship opportunities & no cell phones in the classroom. Those two were the first thing came to my mind. I benefited from scholarships for higher education, if not, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have seen and of course experienced student’s financial struggles. Financial burdens should not serve as a limiting force for potential students. Therefore an increasing number of scholarships would be one of the solutions. I also benefitted not having a smart phone for 24/7 when I was studying. Introducing new technology to the classroom is something I agree more than 100%, but non-stop texting, chatting or blinking screens every now and then with new messages are not my favorites. I believe that the phone takes more attention than subject matters discussed in the class – I don’t need to be a mean teacher but I hope everyone teaching in the education system recently, no matter what the level is, agrees with me.

What do you see as the values of education in society today?

No matter the program of study, education improves personal lives and helps societies run smoothly – people are mindful, live longer and happier. Apart from the subject matters, education will develop soft skills of a person like critical thinking, decision making, team work, public speaking, attention to details etc. These are valuable skills for the life as well as for the workforce. As many economists agree today, the education is directly correlates with the economic growth and the stability of the society. 

What is your favourite thing about the Kootenay region?

As a skilled migrant, moving here from Calgary, I have definitely got used to slower, rural shape of life. I appreciate the fresh air, less traffic and the beautiful environment. I am not sure whether we are included to the community but we are surviving and trying to maintain good relationships with everyone.