As a young boy growing up in Jasper, Alberta, Connor Arsenault had an insatiable curiosity about the world around him.
"I was always interested in how the world works and always asked a lot of questions," says Arsenault, a student at Gathering Place Education Centre.
But for a period in his life, Arsenault wasn't able to satisfy his love for learning.
"For a long time in my life, that was all taken away from me," says Arsenault.
About a year ago, Arsenault decided to leave his troubled past behind and make some changes in his life, but limited formal education left him with few options. He started to read various books on philosophy and religion to satiate a desire for knowledge and guided his own education. While opening up a new world, Arsenault wasn't getting everything he needed on his own. He needed help.
"For a long time in my life, I was looking for answers and I couldn't find these answers in a lot of different places," he says.
One day he picked up a piece of paper containing some basic arithmetic problems and he started adding numbers just for fun. The math came easily to him and pretty soon he was challenging himself with increasingly complex problems.
"Mathematics saved my life," says Arsenault. "I didn't want to continue down the road I was going and needed purpose in my life. Math gave me that purpose."
Arsenault continued to learn math on his own. He says he liked how equations clearly helped explain the world around him. Even though Arsenault was teaching himself mathematics, and doing well, he wanted to learn and practice more. Driven by this tenacity for knowledge and finding answers, Arsenault started taking a course with a Gathering Place teacher who instructed at his place of residence at that time. Eventually, he found himself taking more courses at Gathering Place.
"When I came here no one made me feel bad about myself because I didn't know something, " says Arsenault. "There are a lot of down-to-earth, wonderful people here-it's a refreshing experience."
Within a year of learning and taking courses at Gathering Place, Arsenault went from successfully completing basic arithmetic to excelling at calculus and physics. Despite a transformative journey, the mathematician remains humble.
"Learning is a powerful tool and I learned to be very humble towards knowledge," says Arsenault. "I don't really know exactly what I want to do but I know what direction in life I want to take. Having that direction is incredible."
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