I returned to College in 1996. I registered for Business Administration certificate program at the Burin campus of what was then Eastern College. It had been 21 years since I had been a student and I was terrified, excited, apprehensive, anxious... you name it; I wondered how I would keep up with all the other students, most of whom were fresh out of high school…
In the weeks leading up to the start of the first semester had all sorts of second thoughts about whether or not to go ahead with it, a few times I was close to changing my mind… but I decided to go for it, I was 39 years old and felt it was now or never. Even though my husband and I were running a successful business at the time, I felt I needed to broaden my horizons, to get the academic qualifications and training to use in my existing business and for use in any future endeavors.
From the minute I walked through the doors that September morning, I knew I had made the right decision. I felt I was in my element, even though I was the oldest “kid” in all of my classes. By October, I had been chosen, along with another lady from the Carbonear campus, to accompany an instructor to Haiphong, Vietnam, for three weeks.
Sponsored by CIDA, our college was associated with a fisheries college over there, providing assistance in curriculum development and other matters. Our job was to assist the instructor and to give the Vietnamese students an overview on women’s role in the Newfoundland fishery. That was a life changing trip for me, it opened my eyes to how fortunate we Canadians are in terms of our quality of life.
I hadn’t studied for exams in 21 years and there were many nights I was burning the midnight oil, but it was all worth it. I excelled in my courses, getting straight A’s all the way through. The level of support and encouragement I received from my instructors was second to none. I had no choice but to succeed.
On the last day of school before March break, in February of 1997, I was in the computer lab and had an awful burning in my chest, similar to indigestion…I left and went home…to make a long story short, I was having a heart attack, the first of two that weekend…I ended up being rushed to town via ambulance and, by Monday, I was having a quadruple bypass with a less than 50% chance of living, thankfully I beat the odds on that one…needless to say, I had to spend the remainder of the semester at home, recovering from that and from several complications.
My classes continued without me…and I finished my courses on my own, at home…going to the College only to ask for assistance from my instructors, (who bent over backwards to help me in any way they could), and to write my exams. As it ended up, I graduated at the top of the class, winning the President’s Medal for Academic Excellence and one or two Student Council Scholarships as well!!