A new path forward

A childhood marked by trauma, an impromptu departure from formal education, and a history of addiction are not holding Amanda Smith back from transforming her life, with the help of a new bursary at NBCC.

When Amanda learned she was eligible for NBCC’s Former Youth in Care Tuition Bursary, she was open to the opportunity, but never imagined she would be selected as one of the first recipients.

“I was told that I was the second person to complete the application form, so I filled it out and thought ‘let’s try this and see what happens.’ I was so surprised when I got it,” she said.

Amanda spent most of her childhood in and out of foster care, an experience she says was incredibly traumatic and still impacts her today. At just 16, she became pregnant and had to drop out of school. Despite the many challenges and setbacks that Amanda experienced throughout her life, she has shown a tremendous amount of humility and resiliency by taking ownership of her past and charting her path forward.

Among Amanda’s accomplishments are completing her GED, getting clean from drugs 18 years ago and sober from alcohol 9 years ago, and being a strong advocate for herself and for her children. Now she’s looking forwarding to adding NBCC graduate to her list of accomplishments as she works towards completing her Social Service Community Worker program.

The Youth in Care Tuition Bursary, which covers tuition and program fees for those who have spent a year or more in foster or group home care, is consistent with NBCC’s strategic goal of reducing barriers to post-secondary education, as well as the College’s values in nurturing a learning environment where no one is left behind, said Mary Ellen Kingston-Ritchie, NBCC’s Director of Student Development.

“When you think about people that have been in care for more than 12 months, their circumstances are not the same as those of us who haven’t been,” she said. “This bursary helps level the playing field for those learners as they look towards the future.”

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