There’s no doubt learning from industry leaders can give you a strong educational advantage, and Toronto’s colleges and universities abound with top-level talent.
Whether it’s world-famous talents like poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje (York University) or industry-recognized individuals like Toronto Raptors team physician Doug Richards (University of Toronto), Toronto schools offer instructors who can truly speak — and teach — from experience.
For George Brown College Hospitality and Tourism professor Doris Miculan Bradley, making the shift to teaching was all about letting students benefit from her wealth of industry experience.
Bradley, 47, is a qualified chef and licensed sommelier best known for running the famous revolving 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower for more than two decades. She is also an accomplished contributing writer to scores of wine and food magazines such as Where Magazine Canada and CooksNCorks.
Bradley left her industry career at the top of her game to teach at George Brown in 2006 because she wanted to share what she had learned with the next generation of hospitality grads, something she believes all successful people should endeavour to do.
“At this point in my life, it is time to give back, and I think that everyone who gains experience in their area of expertise should share it,” Bradley said.
Going into teaching was scary at first because Bradley knew she still loved her job, but once she got into the classroom, her fears evaporated.
“Teaching has been magical for me. I don’t look at it as a job — it’s been an enlightening experience,” Bradley said.
While all instructors have something to offer students, Bradley believes that people like her with a weight of experience do have the advantage of being able to offer students easier access to a network of qualified people from a given industry.
“You do have an advantage in the classroom when teaching from experience, and because of your connection to the industry, you’re able to bring in people who can have a real impact and inspire students,” Bradley said.
She says leaving behind her successful career was difficult, but the students and colleagues she has met in her new teaching career have made it all worthwhile.
“When I left the Tower, I really left behind brothers and sisters. I miss the people that I worked with, but I’m with a different group of people now who are incredible,” Bradley said.