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NLC 2021 Valedictorian Learns it’s Never too Late to Follow Dreams

Posted on May 19, 2021

Photo: Jeri Asels

Selected as the valedictorian of the 2021 graduating class at Northern Lakes College, University Studies graduate, Jeri Asels, has modelled grit, determination, and resiliency in her studies, particularly when her family fell ill with COVID-19 at the beginning of the winter 2021 term.

“2021 was such a difficult time for my family! We got through it, and I’m so thankful for the support of my instructors. When my husband was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, I was crying on the phone to my instructors, worried that maybe I wouldn’t be able to complete the essays that were due, but they were really understanding. They gave me open deadlines and trusted in me. They just said, ‘come back when you are ready to start working again.’ I appreciate how NLC values family,” explains Jeri.

Before enrolling in the Northern Lakes College University Studies program, Jeri worked in early childhood education for over ten years. She loved teaching preschool children, but dreamed of teaching older students. It was while working at an elementary school that Jeri met a veteran school teacher who inspired her to pursue a Bachelor of Education. “I learned that she was well into her years when she decided to become a teacher. That was my story, too. She is the one who showed me that it's never too late to follow your dreams,” Jeri explains. “But I was a working mother and unsure how I would access my education. After learning that NLC offers classes online, it suddenly made everything achievable for me.”

Further to inspiring her that it was never too late to return to school, Jeri also noted that the warm, welcoming, and wise woman was the only Indigenous teacher in the school, and that the students looked up to her. Jeri valued seeing an Indigenous woman in a position of leadership and influence. “It was eye-opening to see that there were so many Indigenous children in the school, and yet there was only one teacher there who shared their culture.”

When considering her future, Jeri’s focus is on Indigenous youth. “Kids are growing up unaware of the histories of Canada's First Peoples, and there is loss of language and culture. That inspired me to be not only a teacher and a leader, but an inspiration to children. I hope to be a good role model,” she explains.

Through a partnership with Northern Lakes College, Jeri has been accepted into the University of Calgary’s Community-Based Bachelor of Education program, where she will pursue a specialization in Social Studies.

The Northern Lakes College class of 2021 was celebrated in a joint ceremony with the class of 2020 on June 4, 2021. Congratulations to all 2020 & 2021 Northern Lakes College graduates, and congratulations Jeri!