Ward shares life story


Ward on a trip to Bury Ditches in Shropshire, England (Contributed photo)
Ward on a trip to Bury Ditches in Shropshire, England (Contributed photo)

Renée Ward is no stranger to Wilfrid Laurier University.

She graduated from the university in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in English and Canadian studies and then returned several years later to pursue a master’s degree in English. In September 2009, she began her professional career at Laurier as an English professor.

Much of her life outside of academia entwines with her career; as a child who discovered a passion for reading, her love for literature went on to play a very significant role in her life and led her down the path that she is currently on.

Leaving behind the picturesque landscape of her English home at a young age, Ward is very much a blend of the English and the Canadian.

“I spent most of my life as a hybrid creature,” she explained. “My mom is Canadian, so I have a Canadian mother and an English father. My dad’s family was all in England and my mom’s family was all in Canada and the U.S.”

Very early in her life, Ward’s parents decided to immigrate to Canada for two reasons: one, to spend more time with her mother’s family, and two, for educational opportunities.

Ward began her academic career at Wilfrid Laurier University in 1992. She has an extensive history with WLU Student Publications (WLUSP), having worked for The Cord as classifieds co-ordinator and then moving up to production manager the following year.

“I came to do English and I knew that I wanted to do stuff with writing, and that I was interested in publications. The years that I was a Cordie, I was also involved as a member of the exec with the move towards WLUSP becoming an autonomous agency,” she reminisced.

Quite unsurprisingly, literature has been a very prominent part of Ward’s life.

“It was something that I really just loved and I was an only child, so for me reading was huge as a kid,” she said. “If you look at my family photo albums, every family gathering we have, I’m the person that is missing because I’m in the other room with my face stuck in a book.”

When asked about her favourite books, her response befit that of a passionate reader: sighing with great frustration, before finally settling on a well-thought-out list.

“Tolkien: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, definitely,” she began. “And then I would have to say Shelley’s Frankenstein. Richard Adams’s Watership Down.

That book just, as a child reader, the first time I read it was the most painful things I’ve ever had to read. I couldn’t put it down, and I cried, and cried, and cried. I would say the other one would be Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.”

Ward is currently teaching a medieval studies course on Harry Potter and her research involves topics within fantasy, science fiction and medievalism.

As someone whose interests lie so much in the fantastical, then, it was all too fitting to inquire which mythical creature she would most like to bring to life.

“Dragons,” she said without much hesitation. “Absolutely, dragons. I’m not sure which breed, maybe not the Hungarian Horntail. But yeah, I think dragons. They’re formidable.”

“I’m a nerd,” she concluded. “But you already knew that.”

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