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From Unsure to Academic Excellence

Posted on Jun 17, 2021

From Unsure to Academic Excellence

The idea of starting college can often be an intimidating one. When throwing early parenthood into the mix, the thought can be almost debilitating. But despite some pre-admission feelings of apprehension, Northern Lakes College alumni, Cristy Hill, found she flourished in her role as both mother and student in the University Studies program. She credits this largely to the diversity of her peers and the encouragement of her instructors.

“I love that there was such a good mix of students! There were some who were fifty years old, and some who were in their thirties or forties, and, of course, a few kids right out of high school. There was every age in my classroom and I loved it! The teachers were also a great support. If you had an exam and a sick kid at home, they would work with you to reschedule to make it work. They helped us to be successful. I always felt supported at NLC,” Cristy enthuses.

Although Cristy would eventually go on to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta, she didn’t truly believe education was an option for her, prior to attending NLC. At least, not without making enormous changes in her young family’s life. “I didn't even know that I could do University Studies through Northern Lakes College,” Cristy says. “I was actually planning to move to the city and uproot our life in Slave Lake to receive an education. That would have been really hard. I’m not sure if I would have made it through, if we had to do that right at the start.”

Upon completing her University Studies Diploma in 2014 and gaining self-confidence in her ability to perform academically, Cristy did temporarily move to the city to complete her Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta. Two years later, Cristy graduated and immediately found a teaching position in her home community. She now teaches at Swan River First Nation School, where she serves with the purpose of making sure all her students are treated with the same individualized, thoughtful respect she experienced at NLC.

“You should see my class,” Cristy boasts of her beloved students. “It's the dream class. They’re achieving in their academics and are all just really great kids. Every day, I try to ask myself how I can best help them. For those struggling, I ask myself how I can help them to be resilient and stay just one more week?”

A dedicated educator, Cristy imagines one day teaching other would-be teachers, perhaps at her alma mater itself. For potential education students, Cristy’s advice is timeless. “I would advise new students to work hard while they’re in school. I felt prepared for teaching not only because of the content I learned at NLC, but because I had also learned how to study and organize tasks. Managing my time as a teacher was an easy transition because I had learned how to manage my time as a student.”