Letitia Henville of Vancouver, B.C., is the recipient of the Editors Canada 2017 Claudette Upton Scholarship,* which recognizes promising emerging editors. The “promising” part of the description definitely applies to Letitia. The “emerging” part, not so much: she has hit the ground running.
Like many editors, Letitia entered the profession in a roundabout way. In 2015 she earned a PhD in English literature (Victorian poetry) from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Ont.). Then she started job hunting. She says, “I knew I wasn’t going to be an academic, but I also knew I liked people who work at universities.”
She landed a job as a research grants facilitator in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (Vancouver). This job consists primarily of editing drafts submitted by the applicants. “My background in poetry studies doesn’t help directly in my editing role,” Letitia says. “But being a fine-detail person does.”
Letitia quickly realized that correcting grammar and revising sentence structure was not going to be enough to enhance the clarity and persuasiveness of the grant applications. So she embarked on an intensive professional development program to learn all about editing. She has taken several editing courses at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) and is currently enrolled in the Queen’s University (Kingston, Ont.) Professional Editing Standards Certificate program. Her current total training time adds up to more than 100 hours.
Letitia used the $1,000 Upton prize money for travel, accommodation and registration at the annual Editors Canada conference held in Saskatoon, Sask., May 25-27, 2018. Her assessment of the conference? “Fantastic.”
She thought the sessions she attended were excellent and useful. “But it was the connections with other editors that were more rewarding,” she says. “I feel privileged to have had the chance to speak with experienced professionals about the strategies they use as they approach their work, and the processes that have — and have not — been a help for them. I met too many kind and generous people to name here.”
“Finally,” Letitia says, “I appreciated the number of people who approached me to tell me about Claudette Upton. I learned that she was a bright, bold woman with a great big laugh. I think we must all aspire to live a life that will be remembered so fondly.”
Letitia has an interesting and unique avocation: she is a member of a neighbourhood emergency assistance team. She is trained to be a citizen assistant to first responders in the event of an earthquake — a significant concern in Vancouver, where she lives. The training is “super engaging,” Letitia says, “even when participating in fake exercises with actors.” She observes that this activity has a “strange connection to editing, in that we are helping people when they are stressed out.”
*The Claudette Upton Scholarship is named after the late Claudette Reed Upton-Keeley, a gifted editor who loved the English language and was actively involved in social justice and environmental causes throughout her life. For more information, please see www.editors.ca/about/awards/claudette-upton-scholarship.
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