30Sep 14

Lucinda Nielsen – Let me tell you about my journey

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I come from a family of nine children and I am the second oldest child. I had to leave school after grade three as I was needed at home because my mother wasn’t well. I often cried when my siblings left for school; I wanted so badly to join them. 

Because I had no schooling, throughout my adult life my only choices for employment were cleaning jobs. I was almost thirty years old when dad finally said “now you can keep your own money”. Before that I had been giving all my wages for household expenses. So by the time I got married I had enough money to buy furniture.

My husband Dwayne bought the house; I bought the furniture. I was happily married for twenty-eight years. My husband passed away in 1996 after suffering for four years with cancer. Now I was truly alone.

So here I was – alone, no education, and a very low sense of self-esteem. I phoned a radio station for help after hearing about a program for adults going back to school. As a widow living in Alberta, I felt I wanted to make a change in my life.

I contacted Cheryl at Three Hills Learning Centre to enroll in an adult education course. I was assessed at grade three, four, and five levels, so I knew I had work to do. I hungered so much for school. My teacher couldn’t give me enough homework. Staying up all hours of the night doing homework was fun! I ate and ate and was never full. I couldn’t get enough of schoolwork. I had cried myself to sleep so many times because I didn’t have any schooling. Now was my chance, and I took it.

Circumstances caused me to move to Saskatchewan after being back for only four months of school in Alberta. My teacher Cheryl contacted READ Saskatoon to ask for a teacher in Rosthern.

Pat Cooley and I started together in September 2005. We started off meeting weekly in the common room at the lodge where I lived, rain or shine. I remember one time seeing Pat coming to teach me hobbling on crutches through the bitter cold and snow. I looked out the window and I thought “here comes a teacher all for the love of a student”. I backed away from the window and cried. Pat and I met all year round. Even on vacation I took my homework with me, much to the surprise of my fellow bus passengers.

In 2007 I qualified for Generations Ahead (an adult upgrading program) and I later enrolled as a student in adult education with North West Regional College. Pat and I continued to meet weekly at the local library, working on assignments from school. 

I was now well on the journey to attain my dream – graduating with my GED. For four years I travelled to Duck Lake through some pretty bitter winters. I even received a perfect attendance award. Through this journey I had the support of Pat and my other teachers at Duck Lake.

One of my proudest moments was walking down the aisle with my good friends and supporters to
receive my grade 12 diploma on May 23rd, 2014. I had a village of supporters to help me attain my dream. Along the way there were people who thought I was foolish. Some thought I was dumb. Some questioned why I had gone back to school.

But I showed them! I stood proud in my graduation cap and gown after nine years and six months in school. I received a standing ovation from my fellow students. What a celebration.