Interview with Elly, Columbia College Janitor


Greetings! My name is Charvie and this is my first semester at Columbia College. I am in the UT Computer Science track with a huge dedication to writing. Originally from India, I grew up in North Korea, the U.S, Fiji Islands, France and the Philippines. Writing allows me to express myself in exactly the way I wish to, which has been difficult as I faced multiple identity crisis moving around from a young age. Working with Stephanie, head of the CC newsletter, is an opportunity for us to introduce fresh ideas.

One of the greatest things about Columbia College is how diversity promotes an environment of appreciation, recognition and interaction. I wanted to interrogate more on the people who work behind the scenes to create it this thriving culture. Elly has been working as a janitor for seven years. I had the opportunity to learn more about her and the life lessons she has to share.


Could you tell me a bit about yourself?

I moved to Vancouver from Hong Kong as a caregiver in 1995. Originally, I am from the Philippines. My family includes me, my husband and our two children. My daughter studies nutritional science at McGill University while my son is taking nursing at Langara College. My husband is an engineer. My mom passed away when I was a month old and dad passed away third year in highschool. As a result, me and my three siblings were raised by my grandparents. We were lucky that they sent us to school despite us being poor. That’s the only will they could give us. My sister passed away at an early age and my brother is an engineer in Italy. I graduated as an elementary teacher in the Philippines. But when we came to Canada, it was a different process. We were financially tight but I’m lucky because my children are earnest. 


What motivates you?

My children, as they know what I do and I work tirelessly to create a brighter future for them. Hardwork and perseverance is key to success. 


What is the most exciting aspect of your job? 

All the students are super friendly and that makes me smile everyday. Even the staff is happy as they appreciate what I do. 


How do you handle stress? Any advice for students?

It’s really tough sometimes when the college is busy with events and parties. It’s hard as I work by myself. If I have many deliveries from bookstores, teachers and staff, it can become stressful. But I can still manage it.


In the meantime, Elly wanted students to know that despite the pressure exams can give, faith is a great way to reduce anxiety, especially when students aren’t able to find treatment if they feel overwhelmed by certain pressing issues. She says, “Just hold on. No matter where you are in life, always remember to be thankful for whatever you have. Interact with people and find ways to help yourself.” 


If there was one thing you wish you could tell all students, what would that be?

Unsustainability as students can trash places with paper. Sanitary napkins can be an issue too as sometimes they don’t know how to properly dispose of them. 


If you were to teach one subject here at CC which one would that be and why?

English because it is my major. But it’s a completely different thing to teach elementary students versus college students!


If you see Elly around campus, make sure to greet her and appreciate her for all the hard work she puts up with. And always remember, properly dispose of your trash at all times!