Marlee Groening (BSN ’92, MSN ’00)

Marlee Groening is a Lecturer at UBC SoN who completed both her BSN (1992) and her MSN (2000) at UBC. She started teaching at UBC after finishing her BSN and then decided to do an MSN because she loves learning and academia.

As a student, Marlee learned from many of her academic mentors. The two faculty members who particularly stand out for her are Sally Thorne, Carol Jillings and Clarissa Green. They provided guidance and thoughtful feedback on how to push the boundaries of her thinking so that she could continue to challenge herself and later, her own students. Having one’s thoughts acknowledged and validated is a vital dynamic in the development of a person’s intellectual life and Marlee aspires to do this with her students.

Marlee primarily teaches mental health in the undergraduate program and has had the fortune of also being involved in some research projects addressing tobacco use among individuals living with mental illness. She loves the fact that the school has been flexible about her lecturer position in order for her to take opportunities to step out and continue her nursing practice in community MH part time in order to stay current in practice as well as bring a fresh eye to her teaching role. In addition to staying current, Marlee thinks that it is easier to connect with students when she is able to use current real life clinical situations in her efforts to integrate theory to practice.

Marlee is a passionate and committed advocate for people with mental health concerns. “My mission is to ‘turn on’ people who are not yet interested in people living with mental health challenges… every day”. People with mental health concerns inspire Marlee with their courage and ability to rise above these obstacles despite the stigma and disadvantage that people live with in every aspect of their lives. They are personable, funny and aspire toward forward movement and personal growth in their lives. For example, she remembers a man living with chronic schizophrenia who learned how to cook and create his own recipes, all the while living with nasty, hostile hallucinations that plagued him throughout the day. She expects students and colleagues alike to be tolerant, respectful and have enlightened attitudes toward people living with mental illness. She wants people to understand the complexity of mental illness and to understand that attitudes toward mental illnesses are inescapably shaped from birth by socialization and media. Ironically, she thinks we delude ourselves into thinking there is any such a thing as “normal”.

When Marlee is not working for pay, she is a “newspaper junkie” and loves to hang out with her 13 year-old daughter and two wirehaired dachshunds. She also loves to cook and read cooking magazines. A dream day for her would consist of reading The Vancouver Sun/Globe and Mail/The New Yorker and Psychology Today, and then bake bread and make soup for her family for dinner. “That is my idea of fun, my ‘me’ time.”

She also belongs to the Richmond Chorus and is currently rehearsing for their Brahms German Requiem concert. Marlee also volunteers with the Adoptive Families Association of BC by selling Christmas trees at Ikea and doing presentations for families engaged in adoption on topics such as transracial adoption, medical issues concerning international adoptions or how parents can best support their child to the exciting, joyful, yet challenging, aspects of coming to their new home.