Georgian grad inspires her dad to go to college
June 17, 2022

In time for Father’s Day, we spoke to Trevor and Jamie McDougall, a dad and daughter who are both Georgian graduates. Trevor was one of 3,500 graduates from 135 programs who crossed the stage at our convocation ceremonies this week.

Two people, one of whom is wearing a blue graduation gown and holding a bouquet of pink roses, stand together and smile for a photo.

Trevor McDougall’s college journey started the day he watched his daughter, Jamie, graduate from Georgian College.

“I actually saw some people older than I was walking across that stage. It kind of planted the seed a little bit,” says Trevor, who is from the Owen Sound area.  

A father at the age of 19, and the type of student who preferred skipping class over making good grades, Trevor put his career aspirations aside to raise his daughter, and later another daughter.

“I graduated high school, but I never got to go my ceremony. Even when I was in grade school I never got to go to my ceremony. When I went to Georgian, that was a drive for me – I wanted to walk across that stage,” he says.

“I may be close to 50 now, but I did it.”

Trevor is a graduate of Georgian’s Graphic Design program at our downtown Barrie location. Jamie is an alumna of our Developmental Services Worker and Early Childhood Education programs at our Orillia Campus.

The pair shared their Georgian experiences with us.

Why did you choose your program?

Trevor: My daughters are both grown, have careers, one’s married. I decided it was time to go back to school.

I can’t do retail the rest of my life. I needed a career, not a job; I needed something I loved to do.

Even as a youngster I was artistically inclined. I loved to draw and create and doodle, so I took an aptitude test on a lark. Two things came up that I actually enjoyed doing: photography and graphic design. I immediately took that as a sign and signed up.

Jamie: In high school, I did a placement at a daycare. I felt like I could really connect with the children there, especially those who had intellectual disabilities.

I chose Georgian because it’s close to home. The Orillia Campus was the closest one to Owen Sound that had the programs I wanted to take.

How was your Georgian experience?

Trevor: I was at the downtown Barrie location mostly. The teachers there are fantastic. They prepare you for your career.

Jamie: Georgian has good, friendly vibes. If you need anything you can connect with people. I made some really good friends when I was there. As a smaller campus in Orillia, you get that personal connection.

A person with short auburn hair, glasses and a blue and white striped shirt, against a blue background, crosses their arms and looks at the camera.

What was it like going to college as a mature student?

Trevor: I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I had never turned on a Mac computer in my life. I was surrounded by kids who were younger than my own children.

But I adapted quite quickly. I made friends with some of these young guys. It was a lot of fun. I tried to partake in a lot of the on-campus things at The Last Class, just trying to fit in a little bit.

“I pulled out my ‘dad card’ a few times”

I focused on my courses. Next thing you know, I was pulling good grades, getting a Dean’s List letter every year.

I pulled out my ‘dad card’ a few times to tell these younger guys to smarten up, but I tried to pull that in as quickly as I put it out because I’m not their father. I didn’t want them to look at me like some old guy.

As classes went on, I started to see more people my own age. It’s been an interesting journey.

Jamie, what do you think of your dad going to college as a mature student?

He was very brave. It’s a very bold move at that age in your life.

It’s kind of cool because I was the first one in my family other than my cousin to actually go to college. And then my dad went.

It’s nice he was inspired at my graduation to go to college.  

So I guess if I never actually went to Georgian, he might not have heard that speech and he may not have done anything more to further his career in life.

Trevor, how did it feel to finally cross that stage at graduation?

I graduated with honours, which is something I never, ever thought I’d be doing.

If I’d paid attention in high school it probably would’ve been an amazing life, but I decided to set myself up with hardships for the first 30 years. (laughs)

I told my wife, ‘You know what, even if I just graduate, I’ve done it.’ If I end up flipping burgers again after graduation, I don’t care. I’ve proved to myself it can be done, no matter how old you are or how far away you feel from the technology they use in class.

I was always a PC guy, I knew how to run Windows 98. Suddenly to jump into something completely new makes me feel very proud.

My kids may have graduated ahead of me, but I wanted to show them new things can be learned at any time in their lives.

Even if they get to the age that I am and want to change careers, they can always go back to school.

I hear people say, “Oh I’m too old for this or that.” No, you’re not. I did it and you can do it.

What advice would you give to a mature individual who’s considering college?

Use the fear as a drive.

When you were a kid, you were scared to walk, you were scared to go to kindergarten, you were scared to go to high school. How is this any different?

Age is just a number. If people want to look at you funny because you’re the old guy, you don’t need that. You’re there for you. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Never stop learning. The brain is a muscle and you have to keep exercising it. It’s that simple.

Want to go back to school but not sure where to start?

Try browsing our academic programs, or take our Career Match quiz that matches you with programs based on your personality.

Better yet, join us at Get to Know Georgian sessions, where you can get your questions answered, get help with your application, and learn how to apply for FREE!