If you have followed my journey over the last few years then you already know that I have been waiting for 4 months to find out if my application into the Bachelor of Social Work program (BSW) was successful. If this is your first visit here, let me give you the super quick version of how I came to today. My career ended when I had a heart attack at the age of 34. I spent a few years healing and then started a podcast which I ran for 5 years. My podcast introduced me to the path of Social Work, and 2 1/2 years later I am graduating from the Diploma of Social Work.
Going back to school as a single mom is an act of faith on it’s own. I have been on disability since my heart attack and health problems began and the amount of money is not enough to support a child and eat properly, let alone go to University. Thankfully the Canadian government believes in investing in education in its people. The hard part is that the grants and loans are only available for one semester at a time, which is 4 months, and the money must be repaid if the student fails too many times. This is understandable, and a lot of pressure. When I first returned to University, I had not yet has a psychological evaluation done, which later discovered my problem, and allowed me to get some support. If a semester is not started well, it can spiral into failure quickly and I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out how to get help.
I decided to pay from my psychological evaluation and hope that I qualified to apply to have it paid for. Once it was done, it revealed that I had a severe memory impairment but did not qualify as having a learning disorder. I was eligible for assistance at Accessibility Services but I was out the 2K. Thankfully the support helped me and I passed all my classes.
For the next two years I continued along with the process going a little like this:
- Apply for next semester loan/grant
- Apply for scholarships
- Apply for classes for next semester
- Receive student loan
- Pay tuition, buy books
- Submit an audit to disability and send back any money that doesn’t cover educational costs.
Work your butt off for 3 1/2 months, start process again just as you have finished mid-term exams. Hope and pray that you will pass and be able to continue.
The hard part for me was always when I had classes where the professor didn’t release any marks until the end. There was no way to know if I would pass and be able to take the next class I had signed up for.
Then the real challenge came. It was time to graduate from the diploma and apply for the Bachelor Degree program. There are many more applicants than seats available and work experience counts. Since I have been living with chronic illness, homeschooled my son for a few years, and am a full time student, I didn’t have room to work. The only hours I had were from my practicum and I wasn’t sure if that would be enough.
I filled out the application, asked for references, and paid my applications fee in the fall of 2021. The time to chose summer classes came a week ago, March and I didn’t know if I would be permitted to attend and worried that if I wasn’t accepted, I would waste 2 – 3K in school tuition and have no plan in September.
The big fear was that I am not able to work a full time job and make enough money to pay my rent and take care of my kids with only the diploma and the health challenges that I still have. However, I can’t live off of the money that disability provides so if I was not accepted into the BSW program, I couldn’t pay my bills come the summertime. I have so much respeact to the mom’s that find a way to make life work on how little they have and not everyone is able to return to school. I know how privileged I am to have this opportunity and feel that I am motivated by them, to go into social work. The way we do things doesn’t work. A woman should not be banished to live in poverty for leaving an abusive relationship, or having their husband die.
Today, I made the decision to have faith and sign up for classes for the summer. I had already applied for my grant and loan and it was approved. I took a deep breath and committed to the four classes and just as someone asked me if I had been accepted, and I shared this, I saw the notification that I was accepted.
I asked the person that I was talking to when I found out, why I had to spend so long tormenting myself over the decision and a moment after I decided to take a leap of faith, I found out that I made it? There are many mysteries in life and this is one to me.
Moving forward, I have the confidence to complete the BSW because I have evidence that I can do it now. I know that my family will be able to keep a home over our head and food on the table. I hope to be able to give back to the community, if not financially, by sharing my time as I learn more skills to help.
I am sharing my story for anyone that is at the starting point I was. When I first wanted to go back to school it felt like a mountain. I started by taking just one class, and then went from semester to semester. I learned that it only takes one person to believe in you, and if you can’t find that one person, you can be it for yourself. You can also email me and I will be your cheerleader! If you feel called to do something, and are willing to take the first step, I truly believe the rest will come.