Meet Michelle Stilwell, Paralympic gold medalist turned politician turned director of rapid COVID testing.
Michelle Stilwell’s athletic accomplishments are impressive: she’s a six-time Paralympic gold medalist in both basketball and track, nine-time World Champion, and the world record holder in the 100m, 200m and 800m wheelchair racing events. Before retiring from competitive sports in 2017, Michelle had already started serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of BC for the riding of Parksville-Qualicum. In that role from 2013-2020, Michelle held several key cabinet portfolios as Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Government Caucus Chair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors, and was a member of the Cabinet Committee on a Secure Tomorrow as well as the Treasury Board and Deputy Chair of the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth. After leaving politics, Michelle joined the LIFESUPPORT Group of Companies, becoming responsible for CVM Medical’s Rapid Antigen Testing portfolio, where she’s helping to ensure the safe return and reopening of business, industry and sport across Western Canada.
My first job ever was… working for my parents at their hotel. I started bussing tables, then waiting tables, and finally moved to the front desk. That was my first glimpse into how hard entrepreneurs work to serve and support their communities.
My proudest accomplishment is… never giving up no matter what the circumstances are. We all face obstacles every single day of our lives and I’m proud that I continue to pick up and move forward.
My boldest move to date was… moving away from home and leaving my family and friends when I got married at 23 years old.
Competing in the Paralympics taught me… that anything is possible when you believe in your abilities.
I decided to go into politics because… I felt that using my voice to impact change would benefit my community and those I care about.
“My best advice to people transitioning their career is don’t be intimidated. Trust your instincts. You have your lifetime of experiences to draw from.”
My best advice to people transitioning their career is… don’t be intimidated. Trust your instincts. You have your lifetime of experiences to draw from.
My best advice from a mentor was… “Own your mistakes, but don’t let them define you.”
My biggest setback was… experiencing a cerebral spinal fluid leak. I’ve had a variety of health challenges but nothing compares to the symptoms associated with a cerebral spinal fluid leak.
I overcame it by… not only seeking proper care but allowing myself the time to heal without putting the pressure on myself to always be accomplishing something.
The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… to slow down. You don’t always have to be busy or accomplishing a task. Take a breath.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… journal.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I am an introvert and I recharge when I am alone. Most people wouldn’t think that I’m an introvert at heart because of my public background.
I stay inspired by… reminding myself that you only have one life to live. Make the most of each and every day. Stay focused and positive.
The future excites me because… things are always changing. There are more doors to open, and some I will choose to walk through while others I will walk away from.
My next step is… to write my book. Time is a limited resource, so best to get out there and make things happen!