Judy Charles will be stepping out of the North campus newsroom at the end of December following a career that spanned more than 25 years as a professor at Humber and many years working in journalism as a producer at CBC News.
A mother figure for many of her students, Charles was a “bedrock to Humber” for people like post-graduate student Judy Pham.
“I think I owe a lot to her. She really helped me learn who I was in some ways as a journalist,” Pham said. “Even though I’ve only had her for a semester, her impact on my life and my future path has been great.
“The great thing about Judy is I don’t think she knows how she affects some people, and how many people she affects,” she said.
The touch Charles had on the program reaches beyond just current students.
Jeremy Cohn, a Humber graduate in 2011, now works for Global News in Toronto as a cameraman and editor. He said Charles is a “one-of-a-kind” type of professor.
“When you talk to people who have graduated from Humber, there isn’t a single grad I’ve met who doesn’t give Judy huge credit for something, whether it’s getting a job or just being a friendly face,” he said.
“That program is a lot of work. I was already working at Global when I went to school. It was kind of a weird situation, so frankly, I couldn’t dedicate as much time to Humber as I wanted to and Judy was okay with that,” Cohn said.
Jane Burke, a post-graduate Journalism student, only had Charles as a teacher for one semester, but saw her as the type of professor who invests a lot of time and effort into her students not only as professionals, but as individuals.
“I think some people were just born to do something. I’m sure Judy was a fantastic producer when she was at the CBC, but she just feels like she was kind of a born teacher in a lot of ways,” Burke said.
“I think being a teacher it’s so much more than just someone being able to show you how to do something,” she said. “It’s somebody who can really invest in you and have this extra amount of care to help you accomplish something special. To have that type of teacher is not always common, so we’re very lucky.”
For Charles, walking away from a long and successful career is going to be tough.
She’s leaving many cherished students and fellow teaching staff such as Judy Boston, technical director of Humber News’ newscasts, who she’s worked closely with for many years.
“I’ll miss students. I’ll miss working with you guys. You’re stimulating. You all have new ideas, fresh approaches. You always teach me stuff,” Charles said. “I love you guys, so I’ll miss that easily the most.
“I’ll also miss colleagues, for example, Ms. Judy Boston,” she said. “We have had more fun putting on that TV newscast three days a week. Crazy fun. I’ll miss working with good colleagues and good students.”
Although she hasn’t decided on a long-term retirement plan yet, Charles knows exactly what she’ll be doing come January and February.
“I’m going to work out all January. I’m finally going to get to the gym,” she laughed. “Instead of getting there one or two days a week, I’m going to be there five days a week. That’s the plan.
“In February, for the past maybe 10 years or so I’ve gone away on reading week with my best friend from Journalism school to Barbados,” Charles said. “Instead of doing that for one week, we’re going to do that for two (weeks).
“After that, I don’t have a plan,” she said.
While Humber’s Journalism program will go on without her, Cohn believes there will be a void that needs to be filled once Charles makes her departure.
“I think somebody’s going to have really big shoes to fill,” he said. “She wasn’t just a professor. She cared a lot about her students, and not just about how their marks were. She cared about everything else.
“It’s hard to find profs who are so dedicated to their students that they care equally about their well-being,” he said.