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York University
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Glendon’s Aileen Rakocevic Receives Medal for Dedicated Service to the University


Aileen Rakocevic, the Glendon School of Translation’s administrative secretary is well-known and held in great affection by faculty and staff alike. It is particularly fitting, therefore, that she should be the recipient of the university’s Ronald Kent Medal for 2005, honouring her 21 years of complete personal commitment and dedication to her department, her college, the students and alumni. She will receive her medal, along with other university award winners, at a gala dinner on April 26th.

Aileen Rakocevic

Rakocevic came to Glendon in 1985, after one year of service at Stong College on the Keele campus, to accept a job as the secretary of [then] executive officer Jacques Aubin-Roy because, in addition to her other skills, she is fully bilingual. Two years later, she was offered the position of administrative secretary at the School of Translation, then under the direction of professor Christine Klein-Lataud. “We worked in partnership, Aileen and I, for the entire eleven years that I was the director of the school”, says Klein-Lataud. “Aileen puts her whole heart into her work and she is outstanding in every area. She is excellent at liaison, networking, personal contact, organization. And she has such patience with the many calls she receives from would-be students with an enormous variety of educational and cultural backgrounds.”

In fact, Rakocevic is the ‘front line’ of the Translation School in every activity. She is the one to answer questions from future students, she organizes the annual entrance exam, and verifies that applicants have all the requirements and meet deadlines. Says current director of the School of Translation Rosalind Gill in her nominating letter, “Each individual receives [Aileen’s] complete attention and is given appropriate advice. […] Glendon College and York University owe a huge debt to her for the number of people who have enrolled in this institution as a result of a first contact with a courteous, humane, helpful and well-organized advisor. “

But that is only the first step. Many translation students are already in the workforce and rely on Aileen’s dedication and special attention to help them juggle their academic and working timetables. Rakocevic “knows each student's history and does her utmost to advise them on the most efficient way of completing their studies. In addition, it is because of her humanity and professionalism in dealing with students over the years that the School of Translation has had the good fortune to maintain close ties with its alumni”, says Gill. In practice, this means holding alumni-student events, organized by Aileen, where future translators connect with the professional world. She is the one who contacts the alumni and the students, sends out invitations, creates a warm and welcoming setting, even arranges the buffet and bakes those fabulous cakes! In such surroundings, it is easy to understand why former students are eager to return and offer their support to the School of Translation.

Rakocevic is an outstanding networker between the students and the professional world of translation. Klein-Lataud explains that once the groundwork for the School’s internship program had been laid out, Aileen took over and has been running it ever since. She is in constant contact with senior translators in the federal and provincial governments and corporate translation offices; she also liaises with ATIO, the translators’ professional organization. Adds Rosalind Gill, “as chair of the department, I have received many positive remarks from professionals [of various backgrounds] praising Aileen's thoroughness, helpfulness, and devotion to the task at hand. The image we present to the professional world is highly important to the success of the program and, once again, Aileen carries the day for us.”

Glendon honoured Rakocevic’s contribution in 1998 with the Jacques Aubin-Roy Award, in appreciation of service and dedication to the university beyond all requirements and expectations. She expressed her surprise at being singled out then, and she expresses the same surprise this time around, with characteristic modesty. “I don’t deserve it, I am only doing my job. I love the Translation School and the students. It is so rewarding to see their progress from the time they arrive to the time when they leave, fully trained and ready for the world. We can be proud of our students and their success in their work. And I am proud of being able to make a difference for them.”

Aileen comes from a family of teachers, but as a young girl, she resisted the family pressure and chose other areas of work. “In a way, though, I think I am a teacher too, since I have so many opportunities to teach and guide young people in their preparation for their future. And my ‘next generation’ – my son – has already embarked on the family profession, being currently enrolled in Teacher’s College”, adds Rakocevic with a smile.

Rakocevic’s nomination was whole-heartedly supported and promoted by the entire faculty and staff of the School of Translation. They expressed a deep sense of justice and happiness in her finally being recognized. “Not only is she the heart and soul of the department on the human level; on a practical level, she works to the highest standards and ensures that quality throughout the School’s activities”, says Gill. “She is an example to us all - she shows us what a true spirit of collegiality really is. She is motivated by a deep sense of belonging to the School of Translation, to Glendon College and to York University. Aileen is a true promoter of the goals and spirit of the university.”

This article was submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on March 29, 2006