Every year, we are honoured to recognize members of the SMUS community as they retire and take on new adventures. Read the 2019 Retirees series to learn more about their outstanding contributions to the school. In this story, we recognize Evelyn Zapantis, former Boarding Services coordinator.
For boarding students, Evelyn Zapantis’s office was a common port of call throughout their time on campus. As Boarding Services coordinator, she handled travel arrangements, helped with overseas study paperwork and kept families connected to campus through communication for 25 years.
“Every day there were lots of laughs,” she says. “The kids hung out at my office every day.”
For Evelyn, her “job” was the perfect expression of her curiosity, passion and fascination with “all things international.” Warm and generous, she was deeply committed to the students and helped them organize many events throughout the years to support their interests.
She helped with Boarders Without Borders, American Thanksgiving dinner and the Christmas Gala. When students came to her to create an international council, they started by organizing an international bake sale together. It became a marketplace, for a time held at the Spring Fair, then Evelyn and the students produced a Cultural Extravaganza, held over Alumni Weekend.
“It was so much fun. It was so much work!” she says.
The food tent offered 25 international dishes. Students supplied Evelyn with the recipes. She bought all the ingredients then divvied them up for the students to make. There were cultural displays and activities, and even a bouncy castle. “Did you know that when you unplug a bouncy castle, it doesn’t deflate slowly? It just goes whoosh!” Evelyn says with a laugh.
Always there to support the students, she acknowledges that she was also strict sometimes. She recounts times when students made a mess at Brown Hall and she had them clean up while other students were eating. “Service is good for humility. Some kids have never washed a table. It always ended with a hug,” she says, again with an easy laugh.
Evelyn was thrilled with the increase in diversity over the years at SMUS. “It’s healthy for people from many different countries to spend time together.” Evelyn recalls four boys, all from different countries, including Mexico and Korea, who were planning to visit each other’s homes over the holidays.
“Students come for so many different reasons – language, location, calibre of education, better opportunities,” she says. Her two sons, both SMUS graduates, also thrived at the school.
When she returned to SMUS in May for a short time, a student dropped by her former office and Evelyn asked, “Can I help you with something?” Their reply was a familiar one. “No, I just want to sit and talk with you.”
Those conversations and helping people feel at home are informing her next steps. Continuing with her love of all things international, Evelyn has established EZIMMIGR8 Consulting Services to assist individuals who want to come to Canada.