Academic Upgrading - A Bridge to the Future
Even though the writing was on the wall, Bernadine Grieve still remembers being stunned by the news.
"I was shocked like everybody," says the Pharmacy Technician student, who lost her job of 17 years when the Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas closed last year. "You have your whole world turned over and you have to think quickly about what you're going to do now."
At 55 years old, the life-long factory worker suddenly found herself jobless in an economy where her experience in manufacturing was not in high demand. She knew she had tough choices to make.
She also knew she had an opportunity.
Bernadine had always wanted to work in the pharmaceutical field, but had other priorities to deal with when she left high school. She married young and had kids soon after, which put her focus more on working and raising a family than going to school. While she has no regrets about her domestic decisions, she looked at losing her job as a last opportunity to chase a long-delayed dream.
This time, she took her chance.
"When I heard about the Second Career program I really wanted to go back to school," Bernadine says. "I knew what field I wanted to work in and in researching the schools it became pretty obvious that Fanshawe, while it required more commitment to your program, was the better school in the long run. I would be better prepared for the work, so that's why I chose it."
In researching requirements for Fanshawe's Pharmacy Technician program, Bernadine realized that she had to do some academic upgrading. She wasn't sure where to turn for the help she needed, but a call to Fanshawe led her to the College's Academic & Career Entrance (A.C.E.) Certificate program - a step that not only helped her meet entrance requirements for Pharmacy Technician, but put her on the fast track to success in the program.
"A.C.E. is specifically college preparation, so they really do get you ready for college work," she says. "The science courses specifically made the first couple of semesters of science so much easier for me because of the way I was prepared. I think it put me in really good stead for my courses at Fanshawe."
The A.C.E. program provides an initial assessment of each individual's abilities in academic fundamentals including math and English, and then charts a course to bring students up to where they need to be. Along the way, it helps students learn to read, write, study, take notes, and produce work at the college level. Bernadine was in the program full-time for three months at Fanshawe's downtown London campus. Upon completion, she was formally accepted into the Pharmacy Technician program. She was approved for Second Career funding shortly after and in September, just six months from when she lost her job, she was successfully following her dream at Fanshawe.
"I highly recommend A.C.E.," she says. "If you plan to go to college, most definitely you will be way better prepared. It may not seem like it at the time, but it really gives you things that you're going to need to know later."
Bernadine will graduate in 2011 - something she says would likely never have happened if the Sterling plant didn't close.
"If I hadn't lost my job, I probably would have just continued on doing what I was doing and retired and that's it," she says. "It was really kind of a blessing for me, because now I get to actually work at something I really want to do. I'm choosing this profession. The program is everything and more that I thought it would be and I can't wait to start work in the field."
For more information about Fanshawe College's Academic Upgrading program, please visit www.fanshawec.ca/access