I was born in Edmonton, then moved to Peace River when I was 12. I spent many years in both rural and urban communities, so I have a nice appreciation of both!
As a kid, I was a loner, I liked reading and video games and that was about it. I managed to squeeze by in school without really trying. My grades were never top of the class, but I sunk a little below average. I never really improved, even as I got closer to graduation. It took me dropping out for a few years to realize how important graduation is.
I was working at a restaurant, the paycheck was fine when I was a high school student then suddenly, I wasn’t a student anymore. See, I was in foster care at the time, and I’d had enough, so I ran away. Not long after, I’d dropped out of school due to my poor housing situation. So now my job, which was meant to give me some pocket money while going to school, was my only source of income.
I was caught in a vicious cycle. I had to keep working my job to pay for the room I was renting, but I knew I needed a better job. For that to happen, I needed more education, which I couldn’t get because I needed to keep working.
I decided to reach out to a career counsellor. She encouraged me to return to school, and with her help I was accepted for a financial aid program that helps kids stay in school. This meant I’d have rent support and some minor food expenses so that I could stop worrying about money and start focusing on school again. When I graduated with my GED (General Educational Development), I was one step closer to personal fulfillment, but I was still working in customer service. I needed more, so I decided to continue my education and work toward a career I would enjoy.
I didn’t have funding for post-secondary, so I applied to every scholarship I could find. Check out Student Aid’s scholarships. I was awarded a bursary that paid for my full tuition.
I’m of the Gwichya Gwich’in First Nation, and my band offers a supplement to students who are pursuing post-secondary education. My band sends me a monthly supplement on top of my bursary. It took a few emails, but it was worth it. Make sure to have your acceptance letter from your school, as well as your direct deposit forms ready when you apply. You’ll also want to apply in advance of your first day of school, to get your funds on time. The deadline for my band’s scholarship is July 15th, so that should give you an idea of how early you should be applying. See Resources for Indigenous students for funding options. This page also includes band scholarship information. These scholarships are government grants that are administered by the bands. Each band may have different requirements, so check with your band website.
I decided to pursue a degree in journalism at MacEwan, that I found through the OCCinfo site. It seemed like the perfect program to align my skills and interests. Things are looking up for me and I’m very excited to see what my future in will bring!
When you get to your post-secondary school find out what Indigenous supports are offered. MacEwan's Indigenous Centre was a home away from home for me. You can grab a coffee, talk with an elder, learn Cree, try indigenous crafts, attend an event, or just meet with other students.
The staff can help with any question you might have, and if they don’t have the answer, they know where to get it. They can also provide you with access to aboriginal-specific scholarships and other resources. Try out this amazing resource.
Alberta ran this peer-developed program from 2007 until 2019. Ambassadors blogged and visited classrooms to inspire students to plan their post-secondary journey. These ambassadors are now in the workforce but their stories can still inspire continuous education.
Tips for dealing with social anxiety
When I started at MacEwan University, it really hit me that attending post-secondary was the start of a whole new life, with all sorts of new challenges as well as new people. So many new people, it was too much to handle, so I hid. It was a dumb move, but anxiety doesn’t know the difference between smart and dumb. Now when I start feeling anxious, I remember:
- No one cares as much as you do about what you wear, how you look, or what you’re thinking, and no one is staring at you.
- Crowds bring anonymity if I’m another face in the crowd I can feel comfortable.
- It’s your world too, your classes are for everyone not just the confident kids, it’s your right to be there.
- Remember to breathe if you feel yourself getting worked up, take a moment first, then jump into the that group project or rock that presentation.
Social anxiety is tough to deal with and making the transition to post-secondary might feel impossible at times, but I’m living, breathing proof that it’s totally possible. I hope my strategies for dealing with my social anxiety can help. Don’t let social anxiety hold you back. Attending post-secondary is an amazing experience, and the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and overcome your fears.
How I beat the homework blues
If you’re a student, you need to deal with homework. Whether you’re the kind of person who gets a thrill from turning in a perfectly polished assignment, or you’re a last-minute marathoner, the homework struggle is real. Homework is hard work, and in post-secondary you might be surprised to discover that you spend more time doing homework than being in class.
There are projects to do, books to read, essays to write and problems to solve. At times homework might become overwhelming, and in those times it’s especially important to take a break from it all. When you’re stressed it can be hard to do your best work. I’ve been told by professors and students alike that simply taking a break is the single best way to minimize study stress.
When you’re in a studying frenzy or desperately trying to meet a deadline, you can get overwhelmed, frustrated and lost in all the information. Instead of trying to muscle through try taking a break to refresh yourself, regain your focus, and diffuse the stress that’s been building up. Read a book, play a video game, go for a walk, cuddle a puppy – do whatever helps you unwind. While you’re relaxing keep thinking about your task in the back of your mind, it can help you find a solution that might have been impossible to see while you were stressing.
Similarly, when you’re studying for finals or midterms, take a break so your brain can process the information. I think we’ve all tried those last-minute cram sessions, but you likely won’t retain much information. Make sure that your breaks don’t turn into procrastination, give yourself enough distance from your homework to feel reenergized, but don’t take so long that you can’t return to it easily. Schedule those breaks to reduce your stress levels and raise your grades!
Where did my job go?
I’m a journalism student at MacEwan University. I’ve had a keen interest in writing and journalism for a few years now, and when I started my program, I was eager to learn more about the industry I hoped to work in. I quickly found out that the face of journalism is changing rapidly and print journalism might be ending.
We live in an increasingly digital world where people are relying more and more on cell phones, tablets and computers to access information. Many people don’t even bother with print anymore since the internet is literally at your fingertips. Technological change is exciting because it opens a world of new possibilities, but it also brings new challenges.
As newspapers decline, they are being replaced with online or digital journalism. Technology may be cutting down on the amount of printed news, but it’s created a whole new way for information to be shared and with it, a world of possibility for journalism students willing to change and grow with the industry.
As much as I wanted to be a part of the world of journalism, times were changing, and new jobs formed (such as a social media analyst). As much as it’s sad to see the industry I love being replaced, it’s also kind of exciting.
Journalism is just one of many industries that are changing dramatically in the face of technological advancement. It’s an exciting time, because with change comes new opportunities. Think about it: the job you end up with may not even be invented yet!
Maybe you already know what profession you want to pursue. Maybe you don’t. No doubt you’re wondering if you’ll be able to find a job once you graduate. The thing is, you don’t really have any control over the job market, so rather than worrying if there will be a job for you, I suggest focusing your energy on learning as much as you can about the field you’re interested in, and where it’s going.
Post-secondary is a great way to develop a valuable skill set, and if you’re flexible and willing to seek out new opportunities you could find yourself at the cutting edge of a changing industry.
Learn from other ambassadors or watch these videos:
Alberta Learning Information System (ALIS) resources:
Also visit your learning path to post-secondary.
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