Laken Betts never made a conscious decision to drop out of school. Struggling with bullying and anxiety, and feeling bored by her schoolwork, she just gradually stopped going.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I would get my education one day,” she says. “I thought about correspondence courses or home schooling, but I never followed through with any of that.”
Her brother, Dakota, and her mother, Juanita Priest, could relate to the challenge of getting back on track. Each had left school for their own reasons, and each had given thought to completing Grade 12. But it wasn’t until Laken read about the Adult Learning Program (ALP) at the Truro Campus that things began to happen for her family.
“I applied and was having difficulty committing to an appointment to discuss the program. But I’d been talking about it enough that my mom decided she’d apply. So when she was on the phone making her appointment, I asked her to see if they could squeeze me in too.”
“I don’t believe one of them would have done it without the other,” says Dakota. “And once I saw how happy they were in the program and how well they were doing, I realized I could do it too.”
Whatever doubts or anxieties they may have had about the decision to enroll were quickly laid to rest by the welcoming community they encountered through the program, and around campus.
“Being an older student, I was concerned it would be me and a bunch of younger people, but I was completely wrong,” says Juanita. “There was a wide range of people of all ages, and the faculty was always very supportive. By the end of the first month of being here, every time I walked through the door, I felt like I was coming home.”
Laken agrees, adding that it was a truly transformative experience for her. “I’d originally wanted to get it all done in a year. But I found I could relate to everyone in a way I hadn’t before because we had all veered from the life script of school, work, marriage and family. I told my faculty advisor ‘I can take two years here because these people are my people.’”
Dakota, who only needed one course to earn his Grade 12, graduated in June 2015 and is currently working at the Sobeys warehouse. Laken and Juanita completed the program in June of this year. Juanita has subsequently enrolled in the Medical Office Administration program. Dakota is thinking of studying heavy machinery at the Port Hawkesbury Campus. Laken, who is doing an internship at the Truro Campus, is realizing that the possibilities for her are now limitless.
“I’m looking at everything from aesthetics to picking up science credits and going on to university. So my ALP journey has made me less sure of what I want to do, only because I’ve realized I can do anything I want.”