Alumni Spotlight | Fall 2021

Finding New Roads

Ian McRae standing by an igloo and smiling

Ian McRae had an unforgettable first teaching job.

“The summer I graduated from Lakehead Orillia, I thought, ‘What would be a great adventure?’” he says.

Ian started searching the Government of Nunavut’s website and found a position in Pangnirtung, a remote community on Baffin Island. He moved there in 2016 with his girlfriend, and fellow Lakehead grad, Erica Beuermann (HBSW'15), who is now his fiancée.

Pangnirtung is an epic place, surrounded by some of the biggest cliffs in the world and wildlife like polar bears,” Ian explains. “As a community, people in ‘Pang’ are incredibly proud of their Inuit culture.

He was there for a year and a half and taught a Grade 5 class before teaching at the local high school, Attagoyuk.

“Living up north was a special experience. I can honestly say the best part was the time I spent with my students,” Ian says.

Ian McRae in hat and winter clothes standing beside an igloo waving

"My experiences at Lakehead helped me gain the confidence to be a leader early in my career," says Ian McRae (HBASc/BEd'16). "I take a lot of pride in working hard and creating change."

Then a job prospect in Toronto as a government relations coordinator with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) came up. It was a difficult decision to leave Pangnirtung, but the distance from their families and the expense of travelling to and from the community prompted the couple to say goodbye.

Ian’s new job renewed his connection with an organization he’d been involved with previously. As a student, Ian had been the CFS northern chairperson and an executive in the Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU). Ian relished the chance to once again be an advocate for postsecondary students.

“I’ve always been passionate about fighting for greater access to education,” he says. “With the CFS, I helped organize student groups across the country to lobby the provincial government for real legislative change.”

 Ian credits much of his passion to his time at Lakehead and his role as the first LUSU executive on the Orillia campus.

“That opportunity changed my life by getting me involved in the campus and in the community. I learned that if you want to see something happen, you often have to be the one who takes the first step.”

Currently, Ian is a partner client manager at ApplyBoard, an online platform that helps international students apply to schools around the world.

“ApplyBoard is one of the fastest growing companies in Canada, and it’s revolutionizing the international student sector,” Ian says.

“I work directly with our partner schools throughout much of Ontario, including Lakehead. As an education tech company, we focus on using new systems and artificial intelligence to make the application process easier for students and schools. I love being in this industry – there is just so much potential.”

He and Erica now live in Stratford, Ontario. Erica is employed locally as a social worker and Ian works in ApplyBoard’s Kitchener office. Since the pandemic, though, they’ve been working remotely.

“We have a daughter named Audrey who’s almost two,” Ian says. “It’s been a wonderful time for our family to slow things down and spend time together.”

Back to Fall 2021