< News | Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dr. Caroline Cole Power establishes OISE endowed scholarship

Caroline Cole Power News Overlay
OISE alumna Dr. Caroline Cole Power is the founder and chief executive officer of CDNHR Group (photo by Marianne Lau).

When you get into a deep chat with Caroline Cole Power (MEd 2011), she talks often about her purpose. 

“I think it’s important for people to know what their purpose is,” said the bright, composed Power in January. “My purpose is really twofold – to help organizations create environments where everybody can thrive and to help employees, at levels within those organizations, find their way.”

Today, in 2024, Power is walking that talk.

Established at OISE, the Dr. Caroline Cole Power Scholarship will support students in financial need, effective fall 2024.

With this scholarship, it is an opportunity to continue a “living legacy, current and future,” she says. “It’s bigger than about self. It’s about pushing yourself hard enough and doing well enough to be able to do good for other people.”

“On behalf of the OISE community, we send tremendous gratitude to Dr. Power for establishing this scholarship with our Institute,” said Professor Erica N. Walker, dean of OISE. “Her scholarship award will certainly enable many future students with help for their academic journeys – one that promises to equip students and our communities to address the crises of the day.”

Power’s scholarship gift will support under-represented students – Black students, Indigenous students, first-generation students, refugee students, and students registered with Accessibility Services. 

“We are grateful for the gift we have received from Dr. Power, who has seen the power that an education can have on making a difference in this world,” said Sim Kapoor, director of OISE’s Office of Advancement, Communications, and External Relations. “This scholarship is going to transform aspiring students and future educators for years to come.”

That is precisely the goal of Power, whose intention to help the next generation continues.

“All that I am, and all that I’m building – because I’m not done yet – has come to me in order that I may use some of it to help other people,” said Power, who has been named to the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada list. “I see it very much as my responsibility to help others and to leave a legacy, something that impacts people positively while I’m here, but also after I’m gone.”

Shifting her mindset

Her undergraduate degree was in business. She then completed an MBA. Power spent all of her career working, up until her time at OISE, in business and specifically corporate financial services – working for “big blue” institutions like Canada’s largest banks, Ernst & Young, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and General Electric in Canada and the United States.  While in corporate life she he developed deep expertise in human resources, talent management and financial risk management. 

“The mindset that had been forged in me, academically, prior to going to OISE, was entirely business and decidedly capitalist,” she said. Wanting to learn more about ideologies on the other end of the social continuum, she decided to apply to OISE’s Master of Education program. Power notes that that was one of the best decisions of her life because the theoretical and practical frameworks that she gained at OISE taught her to how to think about the “shades of grey between the black and white that is business.”

With an enriched perspective, “I’m able to understand that things don’t always have an have a direct answer – sometimes the answer to the thing is depending on what you’re trying to do. One of the things that I came away from at OISE, when I earned my degree, was the ability to see things from vastly differing perspectives, where one plus one doesn’t always equal two… and there often isn’t a simple answer to the question at hand.”

Her academic advisor during her time at OISE, Associate Professor Kiran Mirchandani, remembers Power as a person who already had the tools to make change in the environments she engaged in. 

“Caroline drew on her vast and varied work experience in organizations and higher education institutions to engage with readings and classmates to strategize on ways to bring about meaningful change,” said Mirchandani, a professor in the Adult Education & Community Development Program. “She was at the forefront of practice on challenging the systemic exclusion of Black and racialized women from leadership positions in organizations.”

At the core of what makes her tick is a deep sense of duty and responsibility, aware that her own success was because others saw potential in her. “I see myself as someone who contributes to this society, to the system to the bigger thing, rather than someone who gets from or takes from the thing and doesn’t give back,” she says.

Dear memories of OISE

Power has dear memories of her time at OISE – everything from her classes with Professor Mirchandani, her study days in the soft landings at OISE and the friends she made on the 4th floor and in the library. “I love my schools, I love all of my schools, because education is so important to me. And it’s my schools, every single school that I’ve been to, have gotten me to where I am.”

Mirchandani remembers Power’s time at OISE dearly. 

“Caroline had excellent academic skills and was a fine writer which made her a great asset to our program,” recalls Mirchandani. “She was such a thoughtful HR professional with a passion for developing sustainable and equitable organizations.”

Power has leveraged her deep business background and with the humanities-based expertise better honed at OISE to catapult herself into a life of entrepreneurship.

Notably, in 2010, Power founded CDNHR Group, a professional training and development company with a footprint across 14 cities in Canada.

In 2022 Power was named an RBC Hero by RBC Royal Bank, an award that recognized four successful women entrepreneurs that year.  Also in 2022 she one the Inspire award from Universal Women’s network. 

Power is currently the vice-chair of Credit Canada Debt Solutions, Canada’s longest-standing credit counselling agency.

Helping people find their way

Her story is one paved with very hard and smart work, which has led to success. With this scholarship, she becomes of service to the businesses of today and the leaders of tomorrow. 

“Yes, I am a business owner, and yes I am in the marketplace to create a commercial service. But I’m equally in the marketplace to serve my clients, I am there to help them solve a problem, I’m here to help them fill a need,” she says “I’m there to do something that helps my clients – whether it’s a corporation, government, not for profit, or an individual – get to a better place as a result of them engaging with my company.

“It isn’t just about keeping my lights on, keeping food on my table, it’s about genuinely helping the organizations and individuals that my business services.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with them and I do not take that responsibility lightly.”

”Through this OISE the scholarship and endowment it is also helping students find their way. 

“My hope is that these financial resources will create peace of mind so that students can focus their time on studying and learning rather than having to worry about financial stressors.”

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