On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated with her Dogwood Diploma at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, who received business administration diploma at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Mother in her fifties finishes high school, graduates with daughter

Recent graduate encourages other adults to get Dogwood Diploma using Adult Upgrading Grant

Grade 12 graduates can be 17, 18 or even 55 years of age.

On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert.

“I was in the fishing industry for a lot of years and when I tried looking for work I couldn’t help but notice that with everything you needed a Grade 12 diploma for this and that,” Stewart said, while sitting next to her daughter in cap and gown.

Before upgrading as an adult, Stewart had a Grade 8 education. As a young girl, her grandfather told her he was proud of her for getting a job at one of the fishing plants, but she remembers him telling her: “‘There’s going to come a time when you’re going to need Grade 12 to pick up garbage in the city,’ and he was absolutely right,” she said.

She tried to go back to school many times, but it was math that scared her. She would quit, walk away, try again, and repeat. It wasn’t until she was in her fifties that she clicked with the instructors at Northwest Community College. She attributes her success to her math teacher, Trudy Dolan, who, she said, adapted to her style of learning.

“She taught me to find different ways of explaining things in a way that she would understand. I’ve got to have a bunch of tricks in my pocket to explain math concepts,” Dolan said.

“It was a struggle at times just trying to convince her that she can do it and you have to put the time into it. Putting that regular time in at home. Toward the end it clicked.”

Since Stewart completed her Grade 12 English before math, she was able to tap into first year university courses, such as psychology and First Nations studies.

Upgrading her education took her four years, but with the bonus of taking university level credit courses. She now has 12 credits toward an associative arts degree. So what’s next for Stewart?

“I can’t believe I want more. For somebody who kept taking off and not wanting to go there, and now it’s like, role model right here [to her daughter] and it’s crazy that she’s like a role model to me,” she said with a big smile.

Her daughter, St. Louis, just completed her business administration diploma, and plans to continue her education by going for her human resource and labour relations degree, all while raising her young son and working at the grain terminal.

“I’ll do that part-time even if it takes me five years,” St. Louis said.

While convocation was a big day for St. Louis, she said she’s more excited for her mom.

The adult Dogwood Diploma is offered at the Northwest Community College for anyone who needs to upgrade their education. Students need to have a Grade 12 level English, Grade 11 math and three Grade 12 equivalent electives to graduate.

READ MORE: NDP eliminate tuition for adult education, will end interest on student loans

Courses are paid for by the provincial government.

“K-12 education is free, it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult,” said Mercedes de la Nuez, career college preparation coordinator at Northwest Community College.

Mature students can apply for the adult upgrading grant (AUG), and depending on their income, or how many dependents they have, they’re eligible for more funding that can go toward books, bus passes, even school supplies.

Stewart was sponsored by her band, Gingolx, and she was part of the AUG program. She encourages anyone who hasn’t graduated to go back to school to get their adult Dogwood for free.

Advisors are around all summer at the college to help students who want to upgrade their education in the fall and winter months.

READ MORE: Northwest Community College decides on a new name



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Escape room brings ‘out of the box’ activity to Agassiz

AESS alumni and teacher developed the concept to bring teamwork-based entertainment to the town

Prices still rising, Chilliwack real estate back in balanced territory

Local market is steadier compared to points west with higher increase in average sale price

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Relationships, continuity top health-care concerns for Agassiz residents

Feedback during Fraser Health events showed access to health care needs to improve

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Dog shot in foot with BB gun during cellphone sale at SkyTrain station

William Ayers, 28, is facing a number of charges after incident in Burnaby

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Man, two children sent to hospital after Vancouver carbon monoxide leak

Nine people were evacuated from the home in south Vancouver

Most Read