Sheri Oz, Professional Curriculum Vitae Part I

by Sheri_Oz

Expert in the field of Sexual Abuse, Sheri Oz's professional development went along a windy path. Find out how she started out - so different from where she eventually landed.

Sheri Oz did not start out intending to work in the field of sexual trauma. She fell into it while making other plans. Actually, she originally thought she was going to be a Canadian ambassador somewhere in the world.

Have a look at her resume and see the development of an interesting career that spans several continents and two languages and has nothing to do with agriculture and everything to do with diplomacy of sorts.

My Professional Life Began When I left Home to Go to University

Born Sheri Burns in Toronto, Canada on September 11, 1951.


I left Toronto for the first time in 1970 to begin my BA studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. It was my goal to learn political science and journalism as I wanted to be a politician. I was always kind of nervy and I registered in my first year for some second year courses as first year seemed too general and I was interested in getting right down into things from the start.

Sheri Oz and friends in OttawaWe had a political science prof who claimed to have been in the CIA and under-cover in the USSR (remember, this was 1970). I took Biblical Hebrew since, as a Jew I had been to Hebrew school and thought it would be an easy "A". The prof had a heavy Scottish accent and I didn't recognize what he was saying as being the little bit of Hebrew I had learned.  I took biology and loved it. Our prof was a pretty normal guy as I remember him. I dropped the journalism course for some reason, did not do well in economics. But I excelled in Population Geography. I went to the prof half-way through the semester and asked if I could get a job with him. He was thrilled as his library was still in boxes on the floor. I spent weeks organizing his books for him and got the top mark in the class. He was new, from New Zealand, so there was another accent that took some getting used to.

The next year he asked me to be a teaching assistant for that very same class. I was then in second year and most of my students were in third year. I didn't tell them. I used my "greenness" to advantage. Each class, I would come in and write something outlandish on the board and they would get so irritated with my stupidity that soon they were arguing among themselves and having a wonderful learning experience. I don't know if they ever found out I was a year behind them.

My Extra-Curricular Activities at Carleton That Prophesied My Eventual Path

As soon as I arrived in Ottawa, I did three things: bought a bicycle for getting around campus and town, joined the International Students' Association and, on October 16, went to visit our country's Parliament Buildings. I didn't understand why Parliament was so busy. I got the last seat in the visitors' gallery and by chance was sitting beside a former lobbyist. He explained to me what was happening. That was the day Canada voted in the War Measures Act. From that moment until the end of the October CrSheri Oz Ottawa Parliamentisis, army vehicles plied the roads of Ottawa and armed guards stood in front of all ambassadors' residences. It was a pivotal experience in my life, affecting how I would view the world and my lack of tolerance for hypocrisy.

I became very active in the International Students' Association and organized some interesting activities: Ambassador's Night, International Costume "Fashion Show", International Pot Luck. I loved meeting people from all around the world.

Oh! And I joined the Parachuting Club. I always wanted to fly a plane or jump out of them. Jumping fit my budget while flying was far beyond my means. I managed to get to my first free-fall before I left Carleton for U of T, hoping there would be a club there as well.

International Fashion Show Produced and Directed by Sheri Oz

I was also the MC for the Evening

Always having been curious about people from around the world, I initiated the idea for a fashion show whereby people from different countries would show us their national dress. When there were no students from a particular country, I used my connections with the consular community and invited people working in the various embassies to participate.

I asked each participant to tell me a story about the national costume, itself, or a legend originating from their native land. I wish I had kept my script for the evening because the stories were fascinating.

Here are just some of the many participants that evening:

Sheri Oz, MC for the International Fashion Show
Sheri Oz, MC for the International Fa...
From my own personal scrapbook
Hungarian Costume, International Fashion Show
Hungarian Costume, International Fash...
From my own personal scrapbook
Inuit Costume, International Fashion Show
Inuit Costume, International Fashion ...
From my own personal scrapbook
Nigerian Costume, International Fashion Show
Nigerian Costume, International Fashi...
From my own personal scrapbook

Changing Direction to the Natural Sciences

Turns out that in my second year at Carleton, all my classes were either Geography or Biology. I loved both. In geography, a bunch of us spent all-nighters in the cartography lab. Those were the Sheri Ozdays maps were made by going in the field surveying and coming back to the lab and drawing out the results of our surveys on lighted tables with special pens. We'd drink and order pizzas and fall asleep on the tables.

Seeing the direction my studies had taken me, I wanted to do a BSc and not a BA. I went to the registrar's office to make the change. However, for some strange reason, they refused me since I didn't have high school math, chemistry or physics.

What to do!?

I transferred and moved back to Toronto and registered at University of Toronto directly into a BSc Biology programme. They used my records at Carleton and didn't worry about what I did in high school.

Summer Vacations in Europe and Israel, 1970 and 1971

I supported myself during first year by typing essays for other students. Having played the piano from age 6 to 18, my fingers were agile and my blind typing very very fast. I earned enough to send myself to Europe for the summer vacation. Four months overseas.

I hitched with a friend from London to Germany. She stayed with friends in Germany and I hitched alone to Italy. Here are some of the photos I still have from that time:

Sheri Oz Europe 1970

Sheri Oz Europe 1970Sheri Oz Europe 1970Sheri Oz Europe 1970

I took a boat from Bari, Italy to Ashdod, Israel and spent a month on a kibbutz. I hated the kibbutz, hated Israelis and determined never to return there ever again! I did have a good time biking with John Shain outside the kibbutz and staying with a new American friend at a guesthouse in the home of an Armenian family in the Old City of Jerusalem.Sheri Oz kibbutz 1970

Sheri Oz Jerusalem 1970


 I still had two and a-half months to travel around Europe and had many adventures.

In my second year at Carleton University, I no longer had to type as I worked as a teaching assistant for my geography prof. Funnily enough, I went back to Israel for 4 months the summer between 2nd and 3rd years because my boyfriend was there on a kibbutz, waiting to get into the army.

This was a young kibbutz, everyone under the age of 35. Young couples with young kids and lots of volunteers from Scandinavia and the USA. I trained a horse on the kibbutz - one that nobody could get near; when I left to go back to university, the horse I trained was the one they used to teach kids to ride. I was in love with Israel.

The Israel I Fell in Love With

I stayed on Kibbutz Beit Guvrin for 4 months. The photo to the left is taken near the entrance to the kibbutz. The photo on the right is my boyfriend, Gary Brown, feeding a carrot to the horse I trained. Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971

Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971




Here, you can see my fellow volunteers on the truck just before it set out to take us to the orchard for a day of fruit picking.

The best part of the work-day was the break. They brought us watermelon and tea out to the fields.




Here are two photos from our trip to the Sinai (remember, this is well before peace was signed with Egypt and the Sinai peninsula was under Israeli control at that time). Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971











I went on a hike in a particularly difficult wadi (valley) with members of the kibbutz. Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971


Sheri Oz Kibbutz 1971

University of Toronto (U of T) Years

My last two years in my BSc programme went by relatively uneventfully. Well, there are a few stories I prefer not to tell here. I'll leave that for a few years from now. I worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant and did a fascinating seniors project with Dr Masui, an embryologist I really loved. He liked me since I understood his jokes in spite of his heavy accent.

There was no parachuting club at U of T so I tried to organize one, but was not successful. I tried to write for the university paper but didn't quite get how to write newspaper articles. I was successful at making some good friends Sheri Oz University of Torontowho I remained in touch with for many years, one of whom I am still in contact with.

During my last year, I made plans to go to South America, during which time I would figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Did not know where exactly, for how long, or even how I'd get there. I told a friend about it and he decided it was a great idea, dropped out of his masters programme and said he'd see me somewhere in Latin America.

Chinatown, Toronto
Chinatown, Toronto
From my own personal scrapbook

Central America 1974

I don't know how I ever thought of the idea, but before I left Toronto for Latin America, I asked the Canadian Jewish News for a Press Card. I told them I would write about Jewish communities wherever I was. They gave me the card; my name was on it. It wasn't the Toronto Star, or Globe and Mail, but what the heck! It was a Press Card!

I bought a copy of the Jewish Travellers' Guide with telephone numbers and addresses of all the Jewish communities in the world. I didn't like the idea of travelling without a purpose and this gave me a purpose.

I went by train with a friend to Vancouver; then she went home and I went by bus to Las Angeles to visit another friend. She gave me her boyfriend's phone number in Mexico City and off I went to Mexico. I started to learn Spanish there and even after 6 weeks couldn't understand anything they would say to me in the market.

I wrote to the president of the Jewish community in Guatemala City and told him I was a reporter with the Jewish Canadian News, coming to write about Jewish communities in Central America and it would help my research if I could stay in the home of a member of the community.

I think this trip deserves another article of its own. Suffice it to say now, I stayed for a month in each country in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama (not officially part of Central America). I stayed for a week in the home of a leader in the community, interviewed rabbis, youth leaders, teachers and others, taking photographs all the time. Then I left my bags in their homes, taking a smaller bag, and travelling to remote parts of each country for about 3 weeks.

In the end, I wrote an article for the paper on each country and several years later gave my photos to the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.

Deciding on a Direction

It was during my Central America trip that I decided that I would live in Israel. I wanted to contribute to the development of the country and it seemed to me that studying agriculture would be the way to go.

Sheri Oz University of ManitobaUpon my return to Toronto, I explored various universities in Canada and decided on the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. I had close friends there and wanted to spend time with them.

After a year in Winnipeg it didn't really work out. I enjoyed studying agriculture, but the department was a bit too conservative and not very female-friendly.

I applied to a two-year masters programme at Reading University in England. There I was studying with students from Sudan, Greece, Brazil and Yemen among other countries.

It was a fantastic year. I loved Reading; I was surprised that I had a bit of culture shock in England, but with time I appreciated the quirks of the English people. After all, they are the ones who produced Monty Python! I think they accepted my quirkiness as being related to the fact that I was from one of the colonies.

The Reading programme involved a 6-month research project in your country of origin (I did mine in Israel), after which the students would return for a final 6 months of study. During my 6 months in israel, I met a man, married him and did not return to England. Finally, in 1979, I finished my MSc at the School of Agriculture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

I worked for almost 2 years in jobs related to agriculture before finding my way into a family therapy training programme in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. This last piece of the journey to my current professional field will be described in Part II of this Curriculum Vitae.

Professional Curriculum Vitae, Part 2

After planning to help make Israel's desert bloom, Sheri Oz found herself teaching soil science in high school. This, remarkably, led to a new career in Family Therapy.
Updated: 02/20/2014, Sheri_Oz
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Sheri_Oz on 02/20/2014

Thanks, sheilamarie. It certainly has been an adventure.

sheilamarie on 02/20/2014

What an interesting life, Sheri! I lived in the Laurentians in Quebec for some time and visited Ottawa now and then, so I know many of your old hangouts. I'm fascinated with the story of your life's adventures!

Sheri_Oz on 01/10/2013

Thanks so much, Katie. How much fun it is to read your comment to my life. I do sincerely hope there are more adventures ahead of me.

katiem2 on 01/09/2013

Sheri, What a exciting and wonderful life you've lead so far, I can imagine you being a political activist but not a politician... Love this story, it was wonderful to take a peek into your travels and adventures, delightful pictures. I know you will do more amazing things to come and possibly change direction a time or two more. I admire a person who knows when to shift gears as per lifes twist and turns. :)K

Sheri_Oz on 10/08/2012

Thanks, Jo. Yeh, I've been around a bit. All before you were born? So you've got lots of time to catch up with me.

JoHarrington on 10/08/2012

Wow! I can't believe how widely you've traveled and how much you've seen, all before I was even born! I want to be you when I grow up.

Sheri_Oz on 10/07/2012

Yes, I have found it interesting. Just put out part 2. Hope you find that as interesting as the first part, Brenda.

BrendaReeves on 10/07/2012

You've had a very interesting life. I can't wait to read the other half.

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