January Student of the Month Maleana David-Harry receives the January Student of the Month award from Duncan Rotary Club president Gregg Perry while CVOLC principal Kevin van der Linden and counsellor Lisa Kellar look on. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

January Student of the Month Maleana David-Harry receives the January Student of the Month award from Duncan Rotary Club president Gregg Perry while CVOLC principal Kevin van der Linden and counsellor Lisa Kellar look on. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Family inspires Cowichan’s January Student of the Month Maleana David-Harry

Daughter, siblings and late father provide motivation

Maleana David-Harry changed her own life, and next she wants to help change the lives of others.

The Duncan Rotary Club Student of the Month for January, David-Harry attends Cowichan Secondary school under the umbrella of Cowichan Valley Open Learning, where she takes most of her classes under teacher Tom Fogarty.

David-Harry wasn’t doing well in school before she went into the open learning program, but turned that around and has already completed all her high school credits with honours standing and will graduate this spring. She started a dual credit early childhood education course at Vancouver Island University in February, the first step in becoming either a teacher or Indigenous support worker.

“She realizes she has a lot of value to young people because she has met with success and has a lot of knowledge to give,” CVOLC counsellor Lisa Kellar said. “I’ve never been so impressed. She makes me so proud.”

Someone who David-Harry has particular value to is her three-year-old daughter Isabella, who provides daily motivation. David-Harry said she comes from a family of alcoholics and was abused by her biological mom.

“I didn’t want to turn out like that,” David-Harry said. “I wanted to keep pushing for my dreams and accomplishments. I wanted to be able to help my siblings and my daughter.”

David-Harry spent a portion of her youth in foster care where she was separated from her siblings, and wants to keep her own family together now while helping others avoid similar situations.

“I want to help kids and teenagers,” she said. “I’ve been a teenager in foster care and I’ve seen it all. I want to give the support to teenagers that I wish I had.”

Someone else who inspires David-Harry is her late father, Chris David, who she told that she was going to be either an Indigenous support worker or a teacher. He was able to see an early graduation ceremony before he died.

“I want to honour him,” David-Harry said.

Along with all her school and family responsibilities, David-Harry also works nearly full-time at Superstore, where she has been promoted twice. It’s all a careful balance.

“I took what everybody said to be seriously — ‘Sleep when your child is sleeping and get lots of naps,’” she related. “The way my body and mind works, when I’m moving around a lot, I get a lot of energy.”

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