On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated with her Dogwood Diploma at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, who received business administration diploma at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Mother in her fifties finishes high school, graduates with daughter

Recent graduate encourages other adults to get Dogwood Diploma using Adult Upgrading Grant

Grade 12 graduates can be 17, 18 or even 55 years of age.

On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert.

“I was in the fishing industry for a lot of years and when I tried looking for work I couldn’t help but notice that with everything you needed a Grade 12 diploma for this and that,” Stewart said, while sitting next to her daughter in cap and gown.

Before upgrading as an adult, Stewart had a Grade 8 education. As a young girl, her grandfather told her he was proud of her for getting a job at one of the fishing plants, but she remembers him telling her: “‘There’s going to come a time when you’re going to need Grade 12 to pick up garbage in the city,’ and he was absolutely right,” she said.

She tried to go back to school many times, but it was math that scared her. She would quit, walk away, try again, and repeat. It wasn’t until she was in her fifties that she clicked with the instructors at Northwest Community College. She attributes her success to her math teacher, Trudy Dolan, who, she said, adapted to her style of learning.

“She taught me to find different ways of explaining things in a way that she would understand. I’ve got to have a bunch of tricks in my pocket to explain math concepts,” Dolan said.

“It was a struggle at times just trying to convince her that she can do it and you have to put the time into it. Putting that regular time in at home. Toward the end it clicked.”

Since Stewart completed her Grade 12 English before math, she was able to tap into first year university courses, such as psychology and First Nations studies.

Upgrading her education took her four years, but with the bonus of taking university level credit courses. She now has 12 credits toward an associative arts degree. So what’s next for Stewart?

“I can’t believe I want more. For somebody who kept taking off and not wanting to go there, and now it’s like, role model right here [to her daughter] and it’s crazy that she’s like a role model to me,” she said with a big smile.

Her daughter, St. Louis, just completed her business administration diploma, and plans to continue her education by going for her human resource and labour relations degree, all while raising her young son and working at the grain terminal.

“I’ll do that part-time even if it takes me five years,” St. Louis said.

While convocation was a big day for St. Louis, she said she’s more excited for her mom.

The adult Dogwood Diploma is offered at the Northwest Community College for anyone who needs to upgrade their education. Students need to have a Grade 12 level English, Grade 11 math and three Grade 12 equivalent electives to graduate.

READ MORE: NDP eliminate tuition for adult education, will end interest on student loans

Courses are paid for by the provincial government.

“K-12 education is free, it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult,” said Mercedes de la Nuez, career college preparation coordinator at Northwest Community College.

Mature students can apply for the adult upgrading grant (AUG), and depending on their income, or how many dependents they have, they’re eligible for more funding that can go toward books, bus passes, even school supplies.

Stewart was sponsored by her band, Gingolx, and she was part of the AUG program. She encourages anyone who hasn’t graduated to go back to school to get their adult Dogwood for free.

Advisors are around all summer at the college to help students who want to upgrade their education in the fall and winter months.

READ MORE: Northwest Community College decides on a new name



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Hope Food Bank struggling after dismal outpouring at annual Holly Days fundraiser

Food Bank may have to reduce hours, services if lost revenue isn’t made up

Students in Hope are ‘100 Days Smarter’

Coquihalla Elementary rang in 100 days of school in a concrete, yet creative manner

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Harrison Festival to share the culture behind the music

Festival director Andy Hillhouse will be talking about nationalism in music, starting March 4

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to B.C., again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Twilight Drive-In announces open season start date

Opening weekend will showcase a double feature with Aquaman at 7:15 p.m. and Glass at 9:50 p.m.

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game in Langley

Most Read