One of the greatest moments of my life was receiving the news that I graduated and received a diploma in my technology discipline. I did not graduate high school So receiving this diploma and walking across the stage meant the world to me. I still get teary eyed thinking about it.
Why did I not graduate high school? Well, 6 BIG moves to 4 different cities (with umpteen moves within each city) in 4 provinces and 8 different high schools in 5 years. I gave up. My Mother moved us to BC, then shipped me off to Ontario, I split to NB, back to BC, shipped off to NS then back to NB. I was 19 still in grade 10 because I didn’t finish a single year. 1 day I was sitting in a class and just completely gave up. I thought to myself “I am too old for this shit” and I walked out. I never went back. FYI … I was 19 with an attitude, to me, at that time, I was too old for that shit. A couple years later I wrote my GED and received my diploma for that. I did nothing to obtain the GED. No schooling, no studying, nothing. I just wrote it. The lack of work put into achieving the GED made it just a piece of paper that could help me get a job. I got a job, and then another, and then another. Always crappy meaningless minimum wage jobs. Retail, Call centres, Home care. Jobs that bored me and I despised.
After the birth of Kyia, I decided enough is enough, I will not raise my daughter on welfare nor will I raise her while I work my ass off at a menial minimum wage job, “I am too smart for this shit”. I want to be able to support my daughter. I want to be able to provide her with more than just the bare necessities. I want her to never go without, as I had my entire life. I was raised on welfare. I had nothing. If it wasn’t supplied by a charity or a sponsor of some sort, I didn’t get it. New clothes were scarce, they were almost always second hand from a free store of some sort. This was NOT going to happen to my daughter.
I started my schooling trek in 2004 with many trips to school counsellors and career counsellors. I knew I wanted to do something technical and I had it narrowed down to about 5 courses. However, no matter which of the courses I chose, a GED was not good enough. I needed a lot of math and science as prerequisites to any and all of the courses I wanted.
So after deciding on my course I enrolled in upgrading classes, these were basically high school classes for adults. One and a half years of upgrading, all the Maths and Sciences I could handle, with an English class thrown in for good measure. I loved it. I made some great friends and learned a lot. I aced everything and was at the top of most of my classes. (Biology and I did not mix well, but I still pulled a B out of that one). By the end I was ready for my course.
I started my course, and on day one I was already lost. The instructors came in, guns blazing. They started talking as though we already knew what they were saying… I didn’t! I remember going home after that first day and crying myself to sleep convinced that taking this course was the biggest mistake I had ever made. In fact, I cried myself to sleep most nights throughout the length of this course. I spent weeks (months even, possibly the length of the entire course) trying to catch up and keep up. 5 years later, I still feel like I need to catch up. This course was so difficult that usually over 50% of the students drop out before the end. My class started with 28 of us and ended with 9. I hear that 1 graduating class hit 23 … but I bet that is a myth. lol
We had an instructor who was convinced that if you did not have a photographic memory, you should not be in this class. We had an instructor who never showed up for class (by never, I mean once every other week to give us an assignment or test), he was eventually replaced … by a hippy. We had an instructor who was pretty much a hippy, hippy van and all! We had an instructor who … well let us just say, English was his third language, his classes were usually the toughest, and because of this he was not very liked. We had an instructor who was also a pilot. We had an instructor who basically gave us all the answers. We had an instructor who looked like a turtle. But, with the exception of the “never showed up for class” instructor, each of these teachers had one thing in common. They helped. If a student made the effort to go to them for extra help, they gave it, and they gave it their all. I am not going to get into every tiny detail about every semester and every class but I will sum it up like this. I studied, I struggled, I failed tests (I had never failed a test in my life until I took this course), I stressed, I cried, I missed classes due to a sick child, I stayed up all night studying, more often than not, I fought, I worried, I screamed, I wanted to quit, I wanted to give up. I pushed, and pushed and pushed, literally to (and beyond) my breaking point.
I was accepted into the course I chose, but how was I to pay? I was on Employment Insurance and although they agreed to pay for half, I was a single mother on EI and I refused to get a student loan. I applied for every scholarship I could and managed to score a full year scholarship for my first year! YEAH! I did Manage to scrape by without a bit of debt. Between the assistance of family (some who looked after Kyia so I didn’t have to pay child care), friends (1 in particular who bought my tools that were required for the course, and others who assisted with the babysitting), and scholarships (I managed to get scholarships for all but 1 semester, my last semester, which I had to pay out of pocket) I graduated with no loan to pay back.
The 4 years I spent in college (approx 1 year in co-op job placement and I took approx 1 year off) were the hardest, most stressful, most exhausting years of my entire life (well to date anyway).
I would not change it for anything. These struggles made me see life in a whole new dimension. I learned a lot more than what I was taught in classes. I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. I learned that I really can do whatever I set my mind to. I learned that failing every now and again is a necessity in life. I learned that if you want something you need to work hard and fight to get it. The best things in life are not handed to you on a silver platter, you need to earn them.
Working, Studying and raising a child (toddler) on your own is the most difficult task anyone could do, and I did it. I have a diploma in a field I enjoy and am working (partially) in that area. It took me years to get where I am and it will take me many more to get where I am going … wherever that may be.