Looking back on my childhood, and more specifically, my dreams and ambitions as a young student in middle school, I remember knowing for certain that I would study Political Science at Memorial University (MUN).

Prior to beginning ninth grade, we were all sat down with one-on-one to speak about what courses we should complete, create an academic plan for those courses, and decide which ones we needed to do what we wanted to do in university. Again, I was determined to study Political Science at MUN, so I selected courses that would fulfill the basic entrance requirements. This dream continued until I accidently came across an envelope of information booklets in the guidance counselor’s office at my school, Sacred Heart All Grade in Conche.

Within the information booklets was a Dalhousie University package, and then I thought to myself, “It would be nice to go somewhere new”. After intensive research and convincing my parents to let me move away and study somewhere that was almost triple the price of tuition at Memorial, I had applied and been accepted into Dalhousie’s Bachelor of Commerce Co-op program.

It wasn’t until my second year that I applied for an IGA Bursary – something I wish that I had done much sooner!

I am currently finishing my last semester at Dalhousie University, and will convocate in May with a Bachelor of Commerce Co-op degree, majoring in Marketing Management and minoring in Philosophy. During my time at Dalhousie, I co-founded the Rowe Marketing Association – a student society that provides students with an array of opportunities to grow their marketing knowledge. I have served as Vice President of Creative Development since the association’s inception in 2014 and until my convocation this May. Not only are these decisions life-altering, but they are terrifying.

At this stage, I feel as though I am right back in high school, standing in the guidance counselor’s office opening an envelope. The only problem is, I don’t know what’s inside the envelope and I don’t have a Plan A. I have a number of career paths to choose from and am now standing at a crossroads deciding whether to move abroad or “out west” to pursue my first post-graduate position. As a student originally from the IGA region, I feel that sometimes we are encouraged to dream big, but only so big. We are encouraged to get out there and see the world, but always encouraged to come back. We are pushed to attend post-secondary, with the goal of obtaining a prestigious career – a nurse, a social worker, a teacher.

I would be lying if I said I never felt pressure from my family, peers, or community, to start a career path that was linear. But, I never let that end up getting in the way of me taking the time to figure out what it was I wanted to do.

The IGA Bursary Program has assisted me in being able to make decisions about my education and career path. The less you worry about your economic situation, the more you can be dedicated to your education and your school community.  That is truly the beauty of this IGA program – it is a tool that can extend your potential in your post-secondary education. In conclusion, remember that it is important to learn what you are passionate about. I have been in university for four years and now am only beginning to scratch the surface of that concept.

Remember where you come from, and the abundance of community support, including initiatives like the IGA Bursary Program when you are applying to post-secondary. Lastly, do not be afraid to go somewhere new, try something different, and to make an impact – wherever you may be.

Submitted By: Toni Kearney – Conche