Personal Support Worker grad proves “it’s never too late to learn”

Earlier this year, 36 students from across Grey Bruce celebrated the completion of Personal Support Worker (PSW) training at Georgian’s Owen Sound Campus.

The students received financial support through a collaboration between the YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce Employment Services, Grey County Economic Development, Georgian’s Corporate Training and Continuing Education team and the Adult Learning Centre Grey Bruce. They were also supported by 19 local long-term care employers.

Laura Lemoine was one of the graduates.

A group shot of people dressed in blue graduation gowns throwing their grad hats up in the air
The YMCA held a special graduation ceremony for the PSW students.

“The experience was positive, uplifting, overwhelming, and just a brave journey that I would do all over again given the chance,” says Laura who is now working as a PSW at Lee Manor, a long-term care home in Owen Sound.

She adds that she’s grateful for the support from Georgian faculty, YMCA and her employer who encouraged her to take the step in getting a postsecondary education.

A female (Laura Lemoine) wearing a mask, stehoscope and blue uniform looking into the camera

I never thought about going back to school because I needed to work to pay my bills. And I thought it would be taking on too much to try and do both. But when the YMCA came out with the PSW program through Georgian, it was a sign to finally take the step I’d been fearful of.

– Laura

The program was offered on both a full- and part-time basis, so Laura was able to continue working while she learned.

Laura was born and raised in Owen Sound and has always supported herself since graduating from high school in 1999.

“I worked many retail jobs but shortly before I turned 40, I had somewhat of an epiphany,” explains Laura. “I wanted to find a career where I could make a difference in not only my life, but also in other people’s lives.”

She was presented with the opportunity to work at a retirement home and soon discovered a love for helping and caring for our seniors in her community. This position eventually led her to Lee Manor.

“From the moment I started, the staff were welcoming and strongly encouraged me to go get my PSW training and this place is the reason I got into the program,” Laura says. “I was hired as a Care Support Aide but needed the college training to become a PSW.”

Laura says the PSW Co-ordinator and Executive Director at Lee Manor submitted her name to the YMCA part-time program. They also said a job would be waiting for her once she graduated.

I’m very appreciative to everyone involved in this journey. My employer worked with me when it came to scheduling around school and made sure I wasn’t overwhelmed. I can’t say enough about how amazing all the Georgian professors were. Heather Ashley and Chantel Rogers definitely left the biggest impression on me. They were kind, funny, smart and beyond supportive.

A female (Laura Lemoine) dressed in a graduation gown and cap holding up a certificate.

Laura says she never thought about taking any additional education after high school since she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. Going back to school in her 40s was a bit daunting.

“Having 23 years go by since high school, I knew school would be much different – especially since computers are a huge way of life now and I didn’t even own a laptop,” laughs Laura. “Luckily the YMCA staff set me up with a laptop on loan and were there for me any time I had questions or concerns.”

Laura says she couldn’t be happier and prouder of her accomplishments.

“I didn’t go to my high school graduation so now having this opportunity has given me the chance to walk across the stage twice,” she says. “The YMCA held a ceremony when we finished the training and I plan to attend Georgian’s convocation in June.”

As a PSW, Laura finds the work immensely rewarding. Her day is filled with a variety of tasks, like helping the residents with bathing, personal care, getting dressed, transporting them to and from the dining room, assisting with feeding and getting in and out of bed.

“We’re there to answer their call bells with anything else they need,” says Laura.

My advice to anyone who thinks they’re too old to go back to school is it’s never too late to learn and receive more education. I thought I would be the oldest in the class but turns out I actually feel young and alive again. If you feel any hesitation, take a deep breath and take the leap. Because it’s better to try than look back and regret turning down an amazing opportunity.

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