He’s a role model to blind and sighted people alike
Job Title: Navigator, Military and Veteran Friendly Campus, University of Alberta
For Jeffrey Behrens, no two workdays are the same. As a navigator with the new Military and Veteran Friendly Campus (MVFC) program at the University of Alberta, he helps students with military backgrounds adjust to academic life. This includes everything from deep conversations about the purpose of life and education, to emotional support and practical help.
“Sometimes I’m holding their kids or maybe I’m holding them — whatever I can possibly do to walk with them on that journey,” he says.
Behrens isn’t a veteran, but he’s well-versed in overcoming barriers as a legally blind person in an ableist world. Before he began working as a student advisor, he earned a political science and history degree at the U of A and a master’s degree in comparative politics and international relations at Queen’s. Behrens also held several posts within the Alberta Legislative Assembly, ran for a school trustee post, and served as director of the Canadian Danish Museum (he’s a history buff with a fascination for Vikings). Currently, he’s president of his neighbourhood community league, taking courses towards a PhD in history, and the father of three young kids.
“There’s a way to be a veteran fighter pilot… and now become a doctor, just like there’s a way for a blind guy to work with veterans by day, be a history student by night, and still be a dad all of the time,” he says.