Ambassadors

Laura

  • InstituteUniversity of Calgary
  • ProgramSocial Work
  • RegionEdmonton

I used to have a lot of self doubt, but once I started trusting my gut and taking chances I discovered my passion and potential.

I’ve lived in Edmonton all my life. As a kid, I spent a lot of time daydreaming and never had much focus on the future. When my peers seemed to have ideas of what they might like to be when they grew up, I had almost no ideas for myself. The job ideas that I did have seemed unattainable, and the paths to reach them were hard to figure out.

Towards the end of high school, I found myself worrying about what came next. The one area that I felt at least a bit talented in was helping kids. I learned about this talent during my summers spent volunteering at summer camp. I was always drawn to the kids who didn’t quite fit in. Often these kids came to camp with a lot of labels on them, with words like “behavioural problems” next to their names. Some of the best interactions I had as a volunteer counsellor, and later as a staff, was through connections with these kids.

I decided I’d like to pursue some sort of career working with kids, but I figured my only option was to become a teacher. I wasn’t convinced this was the best fit for me, so thankfully a career counsellor at my school had me complete a career-aptitude test. This showed me so many other options for working with children and youth, and lead me to apply to the Child and Youth Care program at MacEwan University.

The program was excellent – I was surprised at how much better I did in my university classes than I had at most high school classes. After two years of the degree, I decided that I wanted to take a break from school to travel. I talked to my professors, and they agreed to put a hold on my program so I could take the year off without needing to re-apply once I was back.

During my year away, I travelled to Iceland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Japan. I also spent two months volunteering on farms in America. Out of all my travels, my time on the farms impacted me the most because I felt reconnected to the land.

I ended up finishing the last two years of my degree with distinction (kind of like honors). If I could’ve told my teenage self that I would not only finish university but also get high grades, I would’ve thought my adult-self was trying to trick me!

After my degree, I spent some time working full-time in my field. My job was great, but eventually I felt called to go back to one of the places I’d visited in my earlier travels – Virginia, USA. I went there to visit my best friend, and almost moved there myself. I even applied to a Masters of Social Work program there and got accepted!

With this exciting opportunity on the horizon, some things changed in my life and I decided that moving to the States just wouldn’t work for me. So I came back home and took on a new, challenging job that took up most of my day-to-day life. This was a really hard time for me, but helped me to realize that I still wanted to achieve a master’s degree. I knew further education would enable me to be more effective at making changes in my field.

Deciding on what school to do my Masters of Social Work was tricky. I needed a program that had a foundational year included, since my undergraduate degree was not in Social Work. Eventually I settled on the University of Calgary program since they have a small campus in Edmonton—which meant I wouldn’t have to move (something that had become important to me).

So that’s where I am now. Through the years I took breaks, tried new things, and was not afraid of changes. So far, it’s lead me to a great life!

Oct 5, 2017
Transitioning to Post-secondary Study