Positive Educational Experiences Can Empower People

We Can Do It!

So, today was one of those really busy days at work.  End of term, which always causes a bit of a kerfluffle around the place, was a little more end-of-term-ish for me as I’m taking a break like everyone else over the school holidays instead of working through like I usually do.  I honestly am burnt out and tired and making lots of mistakes, and since my colleague Lyssa is away overseas for personal reasons, I’ll be dealing with new students the last week in July all by myself administration-wise, so I need to be fresh of mind and spirit for that.

Anyway, I had a surprise visit from a graduate of ours today.  She popped in to get a few things, and it was great to see her looking so happy.

After Jacqui left the school, I took over the interviewing for a while, and this student (let’s call her Rikki) came in for an interview after we received her application.  She was quiet, slightly withdrawn, and wholly unconfident.  Her educational experiences had been, to put it nicely, horrible, and her performance obviously suffered as a result.  I had a feeling, reading between the lines, that she’d probably been called “stupid” or “dumb”, when, in actuality, she was anything but that.

During the course, she seemed to blossom.  I think the message that she was succeeding at this bolstered her confidence, and that, in turn, made her succeed more, which made her more confident, and the pattern repeated until Rikki emerged the other side fully qualified with a trade and a different outlook on life.

So, when I saw her today, I was very happy to see her looking so much better.  We spoke for a while, and I said, “Do you remember when you came in for the interview?  You were so unsure of yourself, so quiet, and you seemed a bit scared about doing this course.  And look at you now!”

She beamed and said we and her classmates gave her the support, the encouragement and the idea to become a better person, that she could do this and she could be successful.  “I’m so much more confident than I was, so thank you.  Thank you all.”

It tugged on my heartstrings so hard.  I was so extremely proud of her at that moment.  (Interestingly enough, Noel and I were talking about her last night and wondering how she was doing.  Obviously super-well!)

Another student who graduated recently — let’s call her Helena — also came and told me how she started one of our courses as someone who had not performed well educationally in the past.  What I found out later was that she was putting her talents and energies into activities which could only lead her down a path of self-destruction, and someone stepped in and said she needed to turn her life around.

So, Helena told me, she’d never done well in the compulsory school system, never really achieved, and here she was, in a level 5 (equivalent to the first year of a Bachelor’s Degree) programme, and succeeding.  It empowered her so much that she had decided to go to university and complete a degree, possibly even a law degree.

Again, heartstrings and pride.  Hearing how she pushed herself so hard to achieve and succeed, and now she was looking at going to university?  Awesome.  Just… so awesome.

We often lose sight of how our actions and words can change other people’s lives.  I impact you, you impact me, we all impact one another in one way or another.  So thinking of both Rikki and Helena today really made me proud that we could supply them with the support, the knowledge, the skills to make them more confident women, empowering them to get out there and achieve, succeed, and become positive about life again.

Sure, these are only two examples of many, and I sometimes lose sight of these many successful ladies due to the few who don’t try or don’t achieve.  I guess when I’m angry or upset about those few, I need to remember the Rikkis and Helenas my life path has crossed in my years working in tertiary education.