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.
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
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
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.
Visit Last Week's Feature:
Learning at the ALC