With her only child off to university, Denise felt it was time to further her own education. She applied to a college and was accepted to a practical nursing program, but when she showed up to register, an administrative error had occurred and she couldn’t enroll because the program was full.
“I had been told there was a high demand for nursing and I was looking forward to it. That was so disappointing,” she recalls.
Denise began researching other options and discovered the Practical Nursing program at Georgian’s Orangeville Campus. The big challenge was that she lived downtown Toronto, but because Denise was so motivated, the commute did not become an obstacle to her success.
“It was about a one-and-a-half-hour drive – and in the winter it was often much longer,” she noted. “But I can count on one hand the number of times I missed classes.”
Denise, now 38, started out with upgrading courses before taking the Practical Nursing program on a part-time basis. After four-and-a-half-years, she finished the program and passed her board exams to become a Registered Practical Nurse. One of the highlights of the program was a trip to the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2012.
“I was given a life-changing opportunity of travelling to the Dominican Republic with a group of healthcare professionals on an inter-professional cultural trip, which made a great impact on my life, both emotionally and professionally,” she said.
“Upon arriving, we travelled to the rural communities of San Jose De Ocoa and Consuelo, where we provided health care and education to those who were at risk and in dire need of aid. I worked alongside doctors and nurses while they attended to patients in the clinic and in the community, leaving me with the impression that we Canadians take our healthcare system for granted.”
Denise grew up in Jamaica and moved to Canada with her family in 1991. She has carried on a family tradition of helping that her mother inspired back in Jamaica, where there was a high level of poverty. Her mother was constantly opening her home to street kids and people in the community who were less fortunate. Denise does something similar in Canada. For many years, she has provided homestay accommodation for students from around the world, including Japan, China, Brazil and Venezuela, who attend the International Language Academy of Canada in Toronto.
Before going to college, Denise juggled being a stay-at-home mom and running her own home esthetics business. Between nursing classes, she provided her clients with such services as pedicures, manicures, makeup, facials and microdermabrasion.
With only a high school education, she found going back to school as an adult learner very challenging at first.
“That first year was a lot of struggling, questioning, but then I ended up loving it. The teachers were very supportive. In fact, the support was enormous. Georgian College was a wonderful place to be.”
Denise enjoyed her education so much and formed such a loyalty to Georgian that she has decided to come back for more. This fall, she plans to take an Advanced Foot Care course at the Barrie Campus. With that certificate, she plans to visit seniors in nursing homes to provide them with foot care. Denise is currently working on a business plan.
“This is an area of specialty where I can do it as my own business,” she explained. “I like to be my own boss and I like to help people. My education has helped me to do both.”
Posted Oct. 19, 2012