By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – Catherine Leriche has recently retired from her job at the Port aux Basques Campus of the College of the North Atlantic. She began her tenure there as a secretary and ended her career as a Student Services Clerk, working there for just over 43 years.
Leriche grew up in the Codroy Valley before she moved on to attend post-secondary education in Port aux Basques in 1977.
“I’m from the Codroy Valley, well Coal Brook, actually. Most people do call it South Branch. I attended Belanger Memorial High school, and I was home for a year and then I went to the college in Port aux Basques, and at that time it was the district vocational school,” recalled Leriche.
It was there that she took a yearlong program called Shorthand Typist and Stenography. After successfully completing the program, Leriche found herself lined up for a job in the very same building where she learned her trade.
“Normally we didn’t finish until June, but the job came open in May. So in May I went to work in the office.”
Leriche agreed that it was interesting to start directly after her graduation.
“Oh yes. Well, you know, fresh right out of school. It was challenging.”
Leriche had a number of duties in her role at CNA, which were primarily answering the phone, greeting the students and the public, though she helped the staff and students in the building with other tasks as well.
“Assisting instructors, assisting students, typing exams. At that time had to be all typed. And students’ marks, the certificates – that all had to be done.”
There were many big changes during her career as technology grew and developed, such as the introduction of computers. While it was a challenge, Leriche was able to adapt to the workplace landscape.
“I guess that you could say that was challenging as well because you went from old manual typewriters at that time to electric typewriters to computers.”
Leriche most enjoyed helping others through her work.
“All staff, the campus, usually have been excellent for 30 years,” said Leriche. “I liked helping students really, and like I said helping the staff. I mean, daily contact with staff and students. I mean, that was usually the best part of it. And well, helping anybody that called in, you know and inquires and stuff like that.”
One particular event that always proved memorable for Leriche was the graduation ceremony of the students that she would see begin and end their education there before moving on to their new careers and lives.
“We always had year-end graduations and stuff like that. And you look forward to seeing the students that been there all year graduating.”
Less fun for Leriche was the onset and eventual rise of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of her career. With people working from home, it required some more adaptation on Leriche’s part, which was a challenge.
“That definitely was, because then you were, all of a sudden, well everybody was home and trying to work from home, and you know get your technology working from home, and trying to cope with not having your hands on files, and stuff like that. It was something to get used to.”
With retirement now upon her, Leriche will still find ways to keep herself busy.
“I have a few hobbies and, of course, I have some grandchildren, a couple grandchildren, so I’ll be keeping myself busy that way,” said Leriche. “I like to sew, and I like to knit, and do puzzles.”
Another intention now that she’s retired is traveling more to visit her grandchildren over on the Avalon, once the pandemic restrictions ease again.
For others who are also about to enter into retirement, Leriche advises them to develop interests and embrace it fully.
“Like they always told me, make sure you have something to keep yourself busy. Time goes so fast that it doesn’t really… you don’t require a whole lot of things to do to keep yourself busy, because it just goes by so fast.”