Good morning/afternoon, my name is Taisya Reutov and I would like to first and foremost thank you all for attending this ceremony today to celebrate the success of each student and their families.
July 24th marks 6 years since my return to Canada. I thought Lac La Biche was merely going to be a pit stop on my way towards completing the next phase of my educational career goals, I was wrong. I spent the better part of the next 3 years dealing with a series of health concerns. During this time I began to re-evaluate what exactly my next steps in life were going to be. I had to ask myself that grade school question of "what do I want to be when I grow up?" Wasn't I already grown up? I had a job, I was raising a son, and I have an education.
Something just didn't sit right with me and I knew I had to do something else for myself. I thought, why not go back to school? Receiving an education is never something you can go wrong with. First I had to find the money to go back to school. I knew I would qualify for Student Aid Alberta, but it was the living expenses that would get me. Because I absolutely love learning, and will honestly be that senior student sitting in a classroom auditing it for the sheer pleasure of learning something new, I knew I had to just figure it out. Next, I had to decide what I'd go back to school for?
Having been a former student of Portage College's Lac La Biche Campus I knew I could find something here. I didn't tell a single soul for well over a year that I was contemplating going back to school and waited for God to give me a sign. The more I listened, I saw the signs. Over the course of a year, I had strangers, friends, and family tell me that I'd make a great nurse, or even ask me if I'd ever considered nursing. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about becoming a nurse practitioner. One day I was driving home from work and was a little annoyed with the music on my phone so I decided to turn the radio on, oddly enough Big Dog Radio was playing an advertisement for Portage College's Practical Nurse Program to be held the next day. Now if that wasn't a sign, I'm not really sure what is.
I decided to go to the open house and just get a feel for it. The application fee was being waived if you applied for the program that night, so I felt as if I had nothing to lose. I knew I had all the pre-requisites required and if I changed my mind, then I changed my mind. I didn't even realize that the Lac La Biche campus only did open enrolment for the program once every 2 years. It literally felt as if the stars were aligning just the way they were supposed to. I was accepted into the program shortly after and began planning my finances for how I would survive during the next 2 years of study.
Things got really tough financially for me while I was in school. I wasn't used to having zero income. Unexpected expenses without an income kill you emotionally. Throughout the year I worried about how to afford gas during away hockey games, unexpected medical expenses, textbook purchases for the second semester, birthdays, and even Christmas stressed me out. I didn't realize that Student Aid Alberta wasn't going to disburse money for the second half of the year until February and I worried about how I was going to provide for my son without him even knowing that I was struggling?
I did the only thing that I knew was 100% in my control. Study hard, dedicate my time to helping others, and apply for scholarships and bursaries for any bit of extra income that was possible. I was extremely fortunate to have received a large number of awards and bursaries throughout the year. The number of awards I earned the first round of applications in November was enough to pay for my second semester textbooks, as well as provide a modest meal for Christmas and gifts for my immediate family.
Without the generosity of each and every single donor out there I have no idea how I would have done it. Every little penny counts! There are no words to describe the amount of gratitude I have for the opportunity to even apply for an award or bursary. The application process alone provides a bit of hope. I am forever grateful to have been the recipient of each award I earned throughout the year. When my spirits were down due to financial stress, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and a means to get out from the darkness.
I want to thank all the donors who provide financial supports to students. Your kindness and generosity assists in changing the lives of not only students, but their families as well.
Have an amazing day!
Find out what awards, scholarships, bursaries and funding are available HERE.