Cycle 32 Graduation
November 3, 2011
Good evening, I would like to thank you for inviting me here tonight to celebrate such a joyous occasion. When I received the invitation, I was honoured and began to reflect back to when I attended the Adult Learning Centre* in 2004 with Cycle 22 and I looked at where I am today.
Before attending the ALC, I was a single mother of two kids – one I had when I was 16 and my other child 6 years later. After having my son at such a young age, I did return to school but I found it difficult to provide for my son. I was living at home and receiving child tax benefits but I wanted to give my son everything that would equip him for life.
A friend of mine talked with her dad and he offered me a job as a waitress. I had no skills to offer and didn’t know how to take an order, but I did have a friendly smile and a personality that won over my customers and my boss. I started out working only part-time and found that I liked to make money, so I took on more hours and began to work full-time. At age 17, I quit high school half way through grade 11 and enjoyed my job. I worked in the restaurant at the same hotel for three years, until they closed.
After that I needed to find another job to provide for myself and my son. I started as a cashier in a convenience store. Not long after, I became pregnant at age 22 with my second child. After my EI payments ran out, I was forced to collect welfare. I was single, living on my own, and had no education.
I had to take a look at my life and decide if I wanted to keep living a life working at dead end jobs or set an example for my children that education is important. Growing up, I had always loved school. I enjoyed learning new things. I soaked up everything possible and loved the challenges. When I had my son, I gave up on school and all my childhood dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman. Now with two kids, I knew that going to school would be the best for my family.
I heard of the ALC through a friend who had completed the program, went on to be successful, and worked for Indian Affairs. I gave it some thought. Then the media did a story about how this school was like no other. I could remember seeing the mini cubicles in the story and thinking, “YES, I want to go there.”
I went to the ALC and filled out an application. I received a phone call to go for an interview. I was excited and nervous but I went. I still remember that day. Walking into the room was so intimidating. Carlo was sitting there looking so friendly with a welcoming smile and Ivan was right beside him. If you know Ivan, he doesn’t look like the friendliest person. After the interview, I felt relief that it was over. I was accepted into the school and eager to start.
Before I even started attending, I faced my first challenge – finding child care for my daughter who was only 6 months old. I began to call day cares that accepted babies and found a few. They said the waiting lists were a year or longer. I was desperate to start school so I began calling every two weeks and then once a week. Finally, one lady got tired of me calling and said I must be really desperate for a spot. She accepted my daughter just in time for me to start school. In times of desperation, a person has two choices. The first one is easy and that is to give up. The second choice is to fight to succeed.
On the first day of attending of the ALC, I was a nervous, shy, self-conscious person. I wanted to better myself and in order to do that I had to put myself in that uncomfortable situation and overcome a personal fear. In the beginning, when we would have open discussions, I could feel myself getting embarrassed over the smallest things and my face would turn ten shades of red. But there were a few classes I enjoyed taking. One of them was Lou Tice and another was the public speaking. Lou Tice was an amazing class for overcoming the barriers and obstacles of facing everyday challenges. Public speaking was also great as it helped me to conquer my fear of speaking in front of people. I was in the SRC during grade school but as I got older, I found speaking in front of adults difficult. The Adult Learning Centre was like a potter moulding clay. We, as apprentices, were the clay. We came in wanting change – a lump of clay willing to be moulded and shaped into a beautiful finished piece of art, each different from one another yet all beautiful and prepared to be released into the world. The tools and experiences we learned are not only put into practice while there, but are taken and carried with us as we live every day. . .
Transition is coming in my life once again. While the ALC gave me an education and fond memories, it is time once again to start thinking of school. In order for me to advance in my career, I will need a university degree. I will begin working on that in the fall of 2012. Once again, I will be learning and advancing myself. The pushing and setting of new goals will never end for me and it shouldn’t end in one’s life.
* The Regina Adult Learning Centre (ALC) changed its name to Ignite Adult Learning Corporation in January 2012.