The Power of Education
I am a strong believer in the power of education. As a child, I saw first-hand how transforming an education can be. Most women of my mother’s generation would never dream of pursuing personal excellence beyond their kitchens, but my mother was different. She worried that if something ever happened to my father that they would have to sell the house and live in poverty. Our family had little enough as it was.
My mother was 42 years old with no money, five children and a grade ten education, so the decision to take her GED test (General Education Test for high school equivalency) and register for university was especially courageous. She didn’t know what she wanted to be right away, but she knew she wanted an education. That was a good enough place to start.
There were no courses to take for GED tests in those days, so she wrote the test without studying and passed with flying colours. For the next several years, my mother would embark on an education that would transform our whole family and inspire other women to do the same.
Once my mother graduated, she began to work as a French teacher giving her a salary that propelled our family to a much healthier place; and the timing was perfect. My mother started working a year before the doctor forced my father into early retirement. Her foresight and courage to follow her dream turned out to be the best thing she ever did.
People rarely regret getting an education, but they often regret not getting an education. I am very proud of my mother for making the decision to go to school as an adult. At the time, she was the oldest student in her class. All of the other students were barely 18 years old. She felt awkward and stupid, but she persisted for the next six years. At the end of it all, she received two university degrees and she could speak French to relatives she hadn’t been able to properly communicate with her whole life.
My mother’s experience made it easy for me to consider making a career change into public relations later in life. When I registered for the program I thought I would be the oldest person in my class, but much to my surprise, I wasn’t. There were also some women who were only a few years younger than me.
In 1971, my mother was at the beginning of a trend that would see mature women seeking higher education and personal fulfillment far into the future. These days we see more and more adults over the age of 35 seeking higher education. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, about 8% of students attending colleges and universities are mature students.
That’s wonderful news to me. I like to see women empowering themselves and nothing will transform your life the way education can. Your education will set you free. It will allow you to break social barriers, build confidence, and provide you with employment opportunities you might otherwise never have. Education gives hope, inspires thought and creates change. Never question the value of education. Only ask what you should study.
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