Over the years, I remember driving by the Akerley campus so many times and staring up at it and wondering what it would be like to be part of that experience. I had a grade seven education, so attending NSCC was only a dream.
In 2004 my life changed when I separated from my husband and moved to Fall River with my three kids. I was scared and nervous and I relied on my family for support. I decided to make the best out of my situation and better myself, not just for me but for my kids as well. I started to research different avenues and found the Adult Learning Program (ALP).
On January 5, 2006 I walked in the doors of the NSCC, and man I was nervous, and I was only here to pick up an application. I procrastinated bringing my application back I thought I am not smart enough, and I would never be able to understand or do any of the high school courses. I had very low self -esteem. My family convinced me to send my application. Sometime in March I received a letter that stated I had an appointment with Joy Coldwell on June 7, 2008.
When June came, I was a nervous wreck right up until the day of my appointment. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I walked in that day apprehensive, excited, and squeamish. Then Joy walked out and had the most amazing persona, and right away I started to relax. We went into her office and talked. Joy gave me equivalence test and it wasn’t as hard as what I thought. The algebra through me off, I had never done it before. Joy asked me to read some vocabulary words and we talked at great length about what my goals and plans were for the future, and at that point, my only plan was to get my grade twelve. As I walked out of her office, I knew right away that I had made the right decision to go back to school. That day I walked in to the school hesitant and anxious, and walked out a Nova Scotia Community College student.
September 5, 2006 couldn’t come any quicker. I felt like a real high school student. My kids laughed and teased me about getting ready for school that day; my entire family was gleaming with pride. I arrived an hour before orientation just so I could look around. I was amazed at how many adults were coming back to school. I remember on the last day of orientation Ray Williams was speaking and he asked us to close our eyes and imagine walking across the stage at the Rebecca Cohn receiving your grade twelve diploma. As I closed my eyes, I visualized that moment and felt my entire emotions rise and had a tear run down my cheek. I still get emotional thinking about graduation.
Monday was the first day of classes; I walked into communications and immediately sat in the first row. I looked around the room and felt comfortable because everyone was here for the same reason. Ray Williams was the instructor he gathered us all together and took a picture so he could put names with faces.
That was a great ice breaker. All of my instructors that first year were so helpful, they explained everything and that helped me from feeling so overwhelmed.
Everyday I looked forward to coming to school, and for the first time in my life, I enjoyed learning and didn’t feel stupid. I live in Fallriver and we have no buses, my journey to school starts at 5:45am. At 6:15am my drive picks me up and takes me as far as Sackville where I catch the 87 to Dartmouth at 6:51am and then the 10 Westphal bus to school and I arrive at 7:20 am. I travel the same way to get home only I don’t arrive until 5:30pm and then it’s supper and homework, both for the kids and myself.
I have made a great group of friends in ALP we study and work together in class, lunch and every free period. ALP wasn’t just about getting my grade twelve; it was giving me back my self-esteem and helping me find myself.
My first year, I completed level three and most of level four in that one year with an 80 or above average, and that was just unbelievable. Not only did my confidence start coming back, but I also became class rep for ALP. I attended meetings and became involved with school activities, I had become part of the college, and I felt important. Soon after I planned a Meet & Greet Social for the ALP students and faculty, I had become a social butterfly in school, helping anyone and everyone I could. The year ended, but my friendships with everyone lasted over the summer, as we talked about how much fun we were going to have in September. Over the summer, I decided to run for President of the Student Association.
September 10, 2007 couldn’t come fast enough for me. I was back in my element this is where I belonged. I was stronger and more confident than ever. As I walked down the hall I saw all the familiar faces and everyone laughing and smiling. I ran for president and won I had now accomplished something else that I never thought possible, and I was the first ALP student in the Akerley campus to win President of the Student Association. I want the ALP’s to be more involved and feel as important as I do.
On June 23, 2008, I graduate from ALP, and I have mixed emotions. I’m excited to finally have my grade twelve and yet a bit sad. ALP has helped me to grow as a person and find the strength to continue on to a career I have chosen in human services. I will miss all my instructors and fellow students. Choosing ALP was the smartest choice I have every made. I plan to attend the Human Service course this September 08. My long term goal is working with women in transition and helping them find their way back into the community with job training and their grade twelve through ALP. It’s funny I always thought I was getting to old to go back to school, but now I realized my life has just begun at forty.