Alum Spotlight: SCS Grad James Mercer (Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management/20)

“I’ve always had a desire to work in the field of addictions,” says Major Jim Mercer, the corps officer at The Salvation Army’s Barrhaven Church in Ottawa. “In the course of my career, it was something I always felt comfortable doing.”

In 2015, Major Jim shared his interest with his then-divisional commander, who suggested Booth University College’s two-year not-for-profit certificate program, part of the School for Continuing Studies. That would prepare him for any kind of an appointment should an opportunity in addictions come up.

“And that’s what I did,” he says. “I applied, and within no time, I was on my way.”

Major Jim’s classes were online though he had to be on campus for three intensive one-week courses over successive summers between 2018 and 2020.

“I had fantastic teachers,” he says. “Not all the instructors were from The Salvation Army but they understood the Army and they were Christians, so we had the best of both worlds.”

Major Jim’s experience with Booth UC’s School for Continuing Studies paid instant dividends.

“While I enrolled with a view to work in addictions, the interesting thing is that I was also able to apply what I had learned to my present context,” he explains.

As it happens, Barrhaven is in the midst of a seven-year building project and the church is at the point of putting shovels in the ground.

One of the courses Major Jim took was on strategic planning and leadership, and “I was able to immediately use what I learned in my current setting. That alone would have made my Booth UC experience worth it, but I know that my School for Continuing Studies certificate will be with me for years to come.”

Major Jim highly recommends Booth UC’s School for Continuing Studies.

“The instructors were very qualified, some with 30 years in the work. They were tough but not insensitive. And they didn’t hesitate to mark up your paper with lots of red to help you learn. They were smart enough to know whether you had put in the work or not. They weren’t there to fail you. They were there to give you success—and they did!”

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