ST. ANDREWS – A desire to better herself and help others in her community led Jennie Schmitz to the Human Services program at NBCC St. Andrews Campus – but the road to getting there wasn’t always smooth.
“I struggled really bad in high school,” Schmitz, who has overcome learning difficulties, said. “I was told I probably wouldn’t be able to go to college because I was taking modified courses. It really put me off and for a long time I didn’t even consider going to college.”
While raising her three small children, Schmitz realized that the time had come to challenge herself. She had always wanted to work with youth, so she began to look into the Human Services program at NBCC.
“I always wanted to try. Finally, I decided to just fill out the application and see where I got.”
She soon discovered that, with the right supports in place, post-secondary education was within her reach. She studied part-time, taking two years to complete the one-year program, and received tutoring.
“I had wonderful tutors, and with the support systems at the school, I felt a lot more comfortable,” Schmitz said. “All the teachers are so wonderful. Anything you need, they’re there. They’re there before you even know you’re struggling.
“They saw what I could do, and they made it work for me.”
She also received support at home, with her partner taking on child care while she studied.
While Schmitz blossomed academically at NBCC, she also flourished socially. Initially shy, she soon found herself immersed in campus life, volunteering for activities and fundraisers.
Her volunteer work also took her off campus, connecting with the Dragonfly Centre for Autism in St. Andrews.
“It’s nice to give when you know it’s appreciated and needed, and Dragonfly needs it,” she said. “They can’t do it all on their own so it’s nice to have the chance to help.”
Schmitz has already secured employment at Autism Intervention Services as an outreach support person in Charlotte County. She’s working with children aged 5-6 on the autism spectrum in their homes.
Schmitz’s NBCC experience has given her more confidence in her own abilities and the drive to make her community a better place. Her hard work has earned her the Lady Dunn Award of Excellence for the 2019 Human Services class.
“I’m very proud,” she said. “I never, ever thought I’d get an award.”
As Schmitz prepared to receive her award during the graduation ceremony at NBCC St. Andrews Campus on Thursday, June 20, she reflected on how far she has come in her journey of self-improvement in the last two years, and the role that NBCC played in her transformation.
“There is so much support and love from the school and community,” she said. “If you tap into all the resources you have, they will work with you to make it work for you. As long as you put in the time and effort, they will help you do it.”
With over 90 programs and six campuses across New Brunswick, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) is a provincially recognized post-secondary institution renowned for producing skilled, knowledgeable college graduates. NBCC offers students full-time concentrated study periods in one- and two-year certificate and diploma programs. For more information, visit: www.nbcc.ca.