"I want to be a role model for people to go back to school. I want others to learn from me," says Bacilia Ramirez, a graduate from Hastings Education Centre.
Ramirez believes that from a young age she had a tough time at school. She moved schools six times because of her circumstances in life. During this time of transition, she also felt torn between two cultures (her father is from Guatemala and her mother is aboriginal). Her educational instability and family challenges created issues with belonging, self-confidence and self-identity.
Then, at the age of 15, she became a mother and decided not to continue her education. But by 2007, she'd changed her mind and discovered the Hastings' Adult Education.
It was the highly supportive staff who made her believe in herself again and kept her committed to Adult Ed.
Ramirez found success at Fresh Start Senior Program (for students aged 16-19), an innovative youth program at Adult Ed that helps set young adults back on track with their secondary education by allowing them to work through their courses at their own pace. This method provides an encouraging environment for students with different learning styles, allowing them to operate in a structured yet flexible environment.
Fresh starts isn't the only option for students. VSB Adult Education Centres also offer other self-paced class environments. These include Kiwassa Education Program, RAIL (Roberts Alternative Individualized Learning) Program, South Hill Youth Program and Collingwood Education Program.
For more information about more programs click here.
"Today I have Adult Ed and its staff to thank for believing in me and for becoming friends for life. It's truly a family environment," says Ramirez.
At Adult Ed, Ramirez found an accepting environment that provided her with the sort of encouragement that was critical for her at the time. She was able to connect with positive students from all ages and backgrounds who were also striving for a better future and this motivated her because she felt understood.
She says her learning process at Adult Ed became a journey of self-discovery, magnified by the continual support of staff members such as Dana Alvaro the center's outreach worker and Richard Moran, former head instructor at Fresh Start.
Alvaro says Ramirez has undergone a transformation. The same person who never wanted to pursue an education won an Urban Spirit Foundation's Perseverance of Learning Award with $1,000 put towards her education. On top of that Ramirez was named the school's 2010 Valedictorian.
"I feel truly blessed that there are programs out there for adults," says Ramirez.
Healthy staff-student relationships are valued at Adult Ed and continue to exist even after students graduate from Adult Ed centers. Ramirez still occasionally visit Alvaro just to say hello or to ask for advice on anything.
Today, she is working towards receiving a degree in Aboriginal Childhood Care from Douglas College.
For more information or to start your education today, click here.