Finishing high school soon? Wondering what to do next?
Maybe you are at a stage of your life where you are wondering what is next? Or maybe you have a child who is in their last years of high school and you are wondering how to help guide them to make some important life decisions.
At Alberta Blue Cross, we believe access to post-secondary education positively influences health outcomes in our communities. The health benefits of education include access to better jobs and higher earnings, which results in access to resources for better health. The Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health states that social psychological benefits of access to education include reduced stress and stronger social networks.
The Alberta Blue Cross Indigenous scholarship program enables us to create opportunities for education, because when we invest in education, we’re investing in the wellness of our communities.
We asked some of our recent Indigenous scholarship recipients to give some advice on pursuing a post-secondary education and how they find balance between work school and life. Here’s what they had to say.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering post-secondary education?
- Amanda Knight: If you do end up pursuing a post-secondary education, it will take some adjusting. Do your research but go in with an open mind. There are also many grants and benefits available to mature students—many more than I had known!
- Saige Arcand: Figure out what it is that makes you happy. What sets your soul on fire when you think about it? What is in alignment with your beliefs and values? What are you passionate about? Then go find courses and programs that offer you the opportunity to explore those interests and pursue whichever path you feel drawn to. Talk with people and volunteer in spaces you wish to be in. Also, be gentle on yourself during this process because there is always room to evolve. As you start your educational journey, you will most likely discover interests and passions you never knew existed. Lastly, find a support circle that you can reach out to when things get challenging—it makes the world of a difference.
- Chantal Dobson-Redman: You are never too old to try new things. By taking a chance, you might just be surprised by what you can accomplish.
- Michelle Fournie: I don’t have much advice, but I have lots of experience with school, systems, challenges and wins. I found consistent mentorship to be a great help along the way. I also tapped heavily into, and now work at, an Indigenous students support centre. It was because of these centres I can complete my post-secondary education. You are not alone, and they are waiting for you to ask for help.
How do you balance school, work and family life?
- Michelle: As a full-time student who also has a full-time career and two children, as well as ceremonial, community and volunteer commitments, I don’t expect a lot of balance for the next two years. But I know what my ancestors sacrificed and am not new to working with an overloaded schedule. At a great expense to my family and community, I travel out of town to access the ceremonial and instructional content of my program. For me, it is okay to not have balance as long as I am intentional of where that shift is going. Giving back to community is a traditional approach to relationship.
- Chantal: Before I applied to the program, my family and I sat down and talked about me going back to school and how everyone’s lives would change for the better. When I got accepted into the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) program, I knew I would have to learn how to manage time between work, school and family. Northern Lakes College offers the ELCC program home-based, which allows me to watch my classes from recordings at my convenience any time of the day. After work, I make sure to be involved in my sons’ lives by helping with homework and including them in meal prep and sitting down as a family at supper time.
- Amanda: It has been quite the juggling act. My children are young, and I strive to be present when I am with them. I want to be present in my studies as well. I have found success in mapping out a schedule in which I set aside hours for things like studying and family time.
- Saige: I haven’t found the perfect balance, but I also don’t believe there is a perfect balance. I do small tasks each day that help me prioritize the important things. I think balance can look like creating a routine that serves your lifestyle and can look very different for everyone. It really comes down to prioritizing time for the important things in life and for me, that’s my self-care, spirituality, children, career and studies. Some days, I don’t know exactly how I do it, but we are capable of doing so much when we really put our minds to it.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
- Chantal: I wish I could tell my younger self don’t be afraid to take chances and you can accomplish anything—just allow yourself the time to succeed.
- Amanda: Relax, have fun, take it easy. Stop drinking.
- Saige: I would tell her ahkameyimok, which means to keep going and persevering in Cree. Life will have its challenges, but you will become stronger. Life will become so beautiful.
- Michelle: It’ll be worth it, trust me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just keep going.
Post-secondary education makes it possible for Albertans to live their best lives. This is why we’re committed to easing some of the financial barriers for students through our scholarship programs. We support students at post-secondary institutions across the province and through our scholarships for Indigenous students, we support recent high school graduates and mature Indigenous students to pursue further education.