Graduation thrills Cowichan’s adult students

One of the most special nights of the year for the Valley’s education community is the Adult Education graduation celebration held at the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre.

These students, who can range in age from teenagers to pensioners, are unique for many reasons but the unifying factor among them is that they have chosen to go back to school.

The Citizen spoke to three of these motivated students as they donned caps and gowns for their big event Tuesday, to learn what brought them to Cowichan Adult Education to complete their courses for graduation.

Trever Brownlee was delighted to be at the event.

"The wife was actually showing me Adult Ed flyers in the newspaper for the last few years. I finally thought it was the right time to do it," he said.

He completed his necessary courses in one year and at 42, he’s justifiably proud he’s done it.

"You’re never too old!" he said. So, what did he take to get to graduation? "I took Biology 12," he said. "It was my toughest course."

He also took Art 12, Comm 11, Comm 12, Accounting 11, and Business Info Management 12.

That’s an interesting group but he’s got specific plans.

"I’m going to become a medical lab assistant," he said. "Now, I can continue on with that idea."

He hasn’t signed up for anything yet but is in the process of contacting a college in Surrey to join their next course.

What does his family think? "They all love it. They’ve been pushing me for a while but they’ve also been backing me all the way through," Brownlee said.

He’s a big fan of Adult Ed. "It’s awesome. The teachers, the whole experience was awesome. There’s a very warm feeling when you walk in on Day One. After being out of school for so many years, the toughest choice was actually walking in there to go and sign up," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Nathan Postma took time away from his family and friends who were happily photographing him in his cap and gown, to say he chose an unusual route to Adult Ed.

"I was home schooled through Grade 11 and this was honestly the best way for me to grad. I did not want to go through the trauma of high school and here I am," he said.

What courses did he have to complete to get his graduation? "I went through First Upgrading No. 3 and Communications 11. In my second term I went through Communications 12 and Apprentice & Workplace Math 11. In the third term I did English 12 and I did Tourism 12 and Planning 12 as electives."

Postma’s plans for further education are up in the air. In the best possible way.

He wants to become a helicopter pilot.

"I’m hoping to start this coming fall, but if for some reason that falls through, I’ll be starting the year after."

He loved his experience at Adult Education.

"Like I said, I’m only 18, so, while it’s amazing for older people who want to finish, it’s also amazing for people like me. It’s a great option."

Adult Education is special because people choose it.

"That does make a big difference," he said.

His family love it. "They’ve been amazingly supportive, they’ve encouraged me to get my homework done and get through it all," Postma said.

Kathleen Marshall came around to the idea of adult education after chatting to friends.

"I found out from them that there was a school that was great for going back, especially for people who had been out of school a long time."

She’s happy and proud to be part of it.

"I went back there and it’s an amazing experience. All the people there are truly amazing and so supportive. I might actually go back there in September and get a couple of extra courses."

She has plans that may take a bit to reach fruition.

"I want to get into a dental assistant program at university in Nanaimo but I’m wait-listed so it will take a little time to get in there," she said.

"So, to fill in, I’m going to take some more courses. And I will be going back to that school because it’s so great," Marshall said.

Her course load leading to graduation night was varied.

"I took Accounting, Art 12 and English 12 and I had some previous credits from a dental program I had taken previously at a university. I had the dental reception course and that gave me credits. I also had some music courses from the Conservatory. I got credit for Grade 8 and 9 piano as well, so I had to do only three courses as opposed to five to get the amount I needed."

Her family and friends are very proud.

"I’ve had a lot of support going back. It’s been really helpful having that because it’s challenging going back to school at a later age," Marshall said.

You have to be quite disciplined. I think I have been and it’s been not as difficult as I thought it would be. I’ve enjoyed it and I want to continue. It should be all good," she said.