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Alumni Profile: Shannon Smith Howes ’00

Assistant Director of High Risk and Community Safety, University of Toronto

Shannon Smith Howes ’00 remembers her first class at the University of Toronto, where she majored in English and history. After the class ended, her roommate was surprised that Shannon had the courage to introduce herself to the professor in a room full of 300 students. “After attending LCC for seven years, it felt natural to me,” Shannon remembers. “I had already attended seminar-style classes, led discussions, and held a number of leadership roles. I began my university experience with the confidence to approach my education in a way that was different than many of my peers.”

Shannon began grade 7 at LCC in 1995, the first year the school admitted female students. While she occasionally felt out of place in a mostly male environment in those first few years, she bonded quickly with her fellow students as she filled her schedule with a wide range of co-curricular activities. A talented athlete, Shannon played on LCC’s first girls soccer, hockey, and rugby teams year-round. She went on to play varsity rugby at university and make the under-23 national rugby team after graduation. Today, she plays for an over-30 team in Toronto. “My athletic experience has formed so much of who I am,” she says. “The foundations that were laid as a student athlete have helped me develop leadership skills and commitment. This has served me well in my professional and personal life.”

Today, Shannon oversees the University of Toronto’s Community Safety Office as the assistant director of high risk and community safety. Day to day, she works with law enforcement, social workers, and other stakeholders to support victims of violence, harassment, and other safety-related concerns. “The opportunity to serve vulnerable people and mitigate on-campus risk has been highly rewarding for me,” she says. 

Once filled with classes, sports tournaments, and student club meetings at LCC, Shannon’s current schedule is action-packed in a different way. Advancing the university’s crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic has consumed considerable time and resources in the Community Safety Office this year. Like many parents, Shannon faces the ongoing struggle of working long hours with three young children at home. As Shannon considers the challenges of multitasking and problem-solving in a time of crisis, she credits her years at LCC for imparting the skill set she needed to succeed. She thinks back to her time in the current affairs club, when she and her fellow grade 11 students created and hosted a multi-school conference, complete with budget proposals and keynote speakers. She thinks about the one-act plays, the science labs, and the sporting events across the country. “I feel grateful for the countless opportunities I had to try something new,” she reflects. “Whether I succeeded or failed, I gained the confidence to pursue my greatest passions. I learned to solve complex problems, and I learned to manage my time effectively. I’ve carried the lessons of LCC with me throughout my life.”

Fall 2020