This interview, conducted by Philip Girvan, originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of The Beacon.
The Beacon regularly features interviews with StFX University alumni on the topic of STFXAUT members who challenged, inspired, or helped in some way. This issue’s interview is with Dr. Amanda Stanec (BSc ’98), owner of Move Live Learn, where she serves as an independent contractor to many sport, education, and health organizations.
Dr. Stanec is also is the 2016 recipient of the StFX Alumni Association’s Young Alumna Award.
The Beacon: Thank for agreeing do this, Amanda. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Amanda Stanec: I was born in Antigonish and raised at Gaspereau Lake, Antigonish County. We had a great neighborhood, and I am still very close with the wonderful people at the lake. I spent my youth playing soccer, highland dancing, and working different part-time jobs in the community. I went to Dr. JH Gillis High School and, as the fourth of five children, I followed in the footsteps of my three older brothers who all attended StFX. Three of us majored in physical education. I also played soccer at StFX for three years and sat out my fourth year due to an injury.
The Beacon: During your time at X was there any instructor, or possibly a research librarian, or a lab instructor… someone who was particularly inspiring or helpful and helped you choose a major or lessons you’ve learned that have helped you in your career?
Amanda Stanec: Definitely Daryl Ingram who was the anatomy lab instructor. He worked closely with Roy Rasmussen. Darryl was incredibly patient, available when people needed help, and truly seemed to love what he did. I was very lucky to work as a lab assistant to him the year after taking anatomy, and thus I moved from knowing material to understanding the material. This was a huge light bulb moment for me in that it helped me transition from someone who wanted decent grades to someone who wanted to understand, learn, and study more.
The Beacon: What in particular have you taken from those experiences and been able to apply to your professional career?
Amanda Stanec: I realize that without a heavy emphasis on the process, a product will never reach its full potential. I learned that leaving stones unturned is no way to meet the needs of my clients. It also reinforced in me the magic of humility – it’s okay if I don’t know something, but it’s not okay if I pretend to know something I don’t.
When I returned to STFX as a professor in 2006, I realized how valuable the team at the Writing Center was. I actually required my B.Ed. students (physical education pre-service teachers) to visit the Writing Center as part of our first assignment. Nancy Marenick was incredible to them, and their having to meet her early on set the stage for them to utilize her and her team.
The Beacon: I wonder if you can also tell me a little bit about Move Live Learn. Its origins, what prompted you begin this…
Amanda Stanec: This was born out of my relocating to the US and being told I’d have 6 weeks off without pay upon the birth of my first child. I thought there has to be a better way. I always took issue with sectors working in silos when there was so much to gain by learning and listening to each other. Thus, I started my company and haven’t looked back. My daily tasks range from conducting research studies to writing youth sport curriculum. Current clients include the International Olympic Committee, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, Association for Summer Olympic International Federations, to name a few…I feel the values I learned growing up in Antigonish are why my business has been sustainable and successful – hard work, service, and treating others with respect. People always comment to me on these qualities and I respond, “that’s the way I was raised.”
I would like to thank local businesses who employed me during my years as a university student: Jim’s Shirt Locker, the Credit Union, etc. I learned time management, fiscal responsibility, etc. by living at home and managing university, sport, and working. As you can tell, I am very proud of where I am from and very grateful for the people there. I was a prof at X from 2006-2009, hired to lead physical education pedagogy within the Faculty of Education.
I only left StFX as a professor because my husband didn’t find work (his PhD is in electrical engineering). I was tenure-track and was well on my way…
The Beacon: It’s an interesting jump: going from an academic career to becoming an entrepreneur.
Amanda Stanec: Yes, but I think it’s also a perfect illustration of having to be resourceful to stay out of debt. My husband always told me I should own my own business as I found ways to have my Master’s and PhD paid for. No debt – I lived as a nanny, as a dorm mother at a boarding school, etc. while studying to offset cost / debt. I didn’t get to fly home for weddings or have nice things – but I stayed out of debt and that resourcefulness is how I find work now – so he says.
And I find the work keeps coming my way – after I work with someone and they see I am responsive, want to please them, want to focus on it being the best it can be, they trust me and call me back.
The Beacon: There is a strong entrepreneurial culture in Antigonish combined with a strong commitment to community.
Amanda Stanec: Yes. I agree. Also, my dad is in automotive sales, and I would see him leave dinner on a Sunday night to help someone who had a flat and bought a car 3 years earlier from him. I learned that getting the gig / making the sale is just one small part. People won’t come back to you if you don’t take care of them. Taking care of my clients makes me most proud. There is not a better compliment than being told they only want to work with Move Live Learn going forward, because they know I will go through a brick wall for them.
The Beacon: I think this is plenty for me to work with, Amanda. If I have further questions I’ll email. Thanks so much for taking time from your busy day, and congratulations on being recognized by the Alumni Association.