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  Weekly Feature: (June 28, 2003)

A Tale of Two Graduates
L's Weekly Feature



At our Recognition Day last week, we honoured our two most recent graduates, George and Tania. George is 73, a recent immigrant, a grandfather several times over, and retired after a distinguished career as a senior naval officer. Tania is 20, Canadian-born, single, and just starting out in her life’s quests.

Outwardly, they appear to be a study in contrasts; looking deeper, the differences disappear.

Although George seems to have already lived the equivalent of many full lives, he is still thirsting for more. He approaches everything with an evangelistic passion. As he zooms and probes his way through our courses, he inspires and extends many people’s concept of life-long learning. His zest for learning has taken him through our gates and onto those of Simon Fraser University, where he plans to study for at least another ten years. After that, who knows?


Tania, on the cusp of her life, is just as enthusiastic about her future. Having achieved her Dogwood diploma while working full-time as an accounting clerk, she is wasting no time and has already been accepted into the accounting program at BCIT. Like George, she knows what she wants and is well-prepared to do what it takes to get it. We see a bright new future opening up for her—a future filled with many choices and wonderful opportunities.

While many would happily agree with the need to provide such educational opportunities for Tania, some are not so sure about George’s need. He is, after all, permanently retired from the work force and not likely to contribute to our tax system.

The answer is to talk to any educator or student who has had the good fortune to work closely with mature students. Students like George can provide very convincing answers to the age-old questions that are the bane of most other students: “What am I doing here?” and “Why do I need to study this?” They inspire, mentor, and sometimes shame other students into achieving more and aiming even higher. Most parents and educators can talk the talk – George walks the walk!

Even at our learning centre, many of our students have come up to me and said, “If George can do it, I can too!” Others have said that their goal is to be in the same position as Tania—to stand at the podium as a graduate and to have the same post-secondary opportunities open to them.

We are proud, humbled and privileged to have been a part of their lives. They represent the breadth and purpose of adult education. Congratulations to them and to all who are striving to improve their education and lives.

On another note, thanks are also due to the Ministry of Education for their commitment to removing the funding cap for adult education in 2004. We can finally look forward to restoring full services to our faithful and dedicated students and to doing even more to help such deserving students to graduate and achieve their life goals.


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