“We were what you would call ‘edgy youth’,” says Tyra Denny about growing up with her three sisters and two brothers in the historic Waycobah First Nation community.
“I spent a lot of my youth frustrated. My mom worked so hard, but we lived in poverty. I was miserable and constantly asked ‘Why does it have to be this way?’”
She struggled to maintain an interest in her studies, and by Grade 11, the tragic loss of her brother, Carlyle, caused her to question whether finishing high school was possible. “When he died I lost sight for a bit.”
Tyra says that it was Carlyle’s belief in her that ultimately brought her back to school. “He didn’t want me to go down the road that he had gone down; if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Becoming a role model
With Carlye’s memory and her mother’s encouragement, Tyra enrolled in NSCC’s Academic & Career Connections Program to discover what her future held. After one year, Tyra knew she was meant for a career with youth.
“I always wanted to do something to help protect our community,” says Tyra who had originally envisioned herself as an RCMP officer. The Child & Youth Care Program at Truro Campus gave Tyra the opportunity she was looking for and she enrolled the following September.
“I knew I wasn’t the only young person in my community who felt like me growing up,” says Tyra. “I realized that I could be an advocate for children and a role model for those who feel they have no one.”
She says her time at the College helped her make some important realizations about herself, “I wasn’t just welcomed at NSCC; they helped me realize there was nothing wrong with all that I’d been through. It was my experience that made me and shaped me into who I am.”
She now uses her story as an example of what can be accomplished with positive thinking, hard work and persistence.
“I want to be able to help young people in the community see that there is more to life than what’s in the present,” says Tyra on her role as a public speaker to other First Nations youth. “I have a big heart and I want to use it.”