|Learners in Action||Summer 2005|
Education really is a family affair
Based on an article in the Truro Daily News, December 2004, available at: www.ns.literacy.ca/learner/brenda.htm
Brenda St. Jean, middle, was recently awarded a $500 bursary from Literacy Nova Scotia for returning to school. St. Jean's two daughters, Marie, 16, and eight- year-old Rachael are supportive of their mother's efforts to improve her education.
Going back to school after being away from a classroom for more than two decades is quite a challenge. Just ask Brenda St. Jean of Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. She is raising her two daughters (aged 8 and 16) while working hard to get her Grade 12 diploma. "It's a whole new ball game now," said Brenda from the Adult Literacy program at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro.
Like many other people in Nova Scotia, Brenda dropped out of high school and moved on with her life before knowing exactly what she was going to do. As her children grew up Brenda had a number of odd jobs, mostly in the service industry, but now she has something to prove to herself and to her two girls.
"You can't even wash dishes now without your Grade 12 (diploma)," she said. "I try to tell my children they can't get a good job unless they get a proper education." The lesson isn't lost on her 16-year old daughter, Marie, who wants to pursue a career as an English teacher when she graduates from high school.
Living up to the expectations Brenda has for her own children is a great motivator for her to finish her education. Even moreso, the support she gets from her children has kept her going through long nights of homework and endless days of doing chores and attending classes.
Brenda says the sheer volume of homework is one of the greatest challenges of improving her education. But learning new things and meeting new people are among the best things she'll take away with her, besides the graduation diploma.
Because of Brenda's determination and commitment she was recently awarded one of three $500 Literacy Nova Scotia bursaries at a special ceremony last fall. "I want to set a good example for my children," said Brenda. "That's all I want to do."
Sabrina is a single mom in Kelowna, BC, who left school in grade 9. She needed her G.E.D (General Educational Development) in order to apply to the Culinary Arts Program at Okanagan University College. She and her tutor worked on all areas of the GED, with a focus on math. However, when she felt she was ready to write the exam, Sabrina was unable to pay for the testing fee.
The Bridging Barriers Fund (see story on page 1) covered the cost of the testing. Sabrina received very high marks in all areas of the exam and is now succeeding in the Culinary Arts program at the college. She has already obtained part time work at a popular Italian restaurant, Agostino's.
Sabrina is now on her way to fulfilling her dream of running her own catering company, thanks to Project Literacy and the Bridging Barriers Fund. Congratulations, Sabrina!
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