Hughena was born and raised in Sydney, Cape Breton. She received a B.A. from Mount Allison University and then studied at the Ontario College of Education. For many years, Hughena taught English and Peer Tutoring in Ontario high schools. She was presented with a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence (Certificate of Achievement) for 2001-2002, mainly for her work with Peer Tutoring. After retirement, Hughena worked for Rubicon Publishing, writing and editing for their series The 10. After that, she worked for Vitalink Canada Inc., marketing and selling educational materials to schools across Canada.