“Mama Tam” achieves her dreams

As a young woman, Tammy Thibodeau was told to expect a life without children, but she wasn’t prepared to settle for that. She managed to conceive and carry to term a beautiful daughter, and instantly knew she had a lot to offer children.

Now, as she prepares to graduate from NBCC’s Educational Assistant program, “Mama Tam” is looking forward to working with children for the rest of her career.

“I couldn’t imagine living a life with no children in it,” said Thibodeau.

Thibodeau became involved in a lot of her daughter’s activities and volunteered at her school, despite working up to three jobs at a time to make ends meet. She started to realize that her love of children could become a career that would provide more stability for her daughter. So she started saving money and, when she had enough put away to finance at least part of her post-secondary journey, she applied to the Educational Assistant program.

“I had applied two years ago but the program was full, so I kept in on the back burner, and in the meantime, I got a job in the preschool room at a daycare. I loved it, and the kids loved me – they called me Mama Tam – and I knew that with the right education I could offer so much more and help more kids.”

She reapplied to the Educational Assistant program and, on Labour Day weekend, got a call that a spot was available. She snapped it up and embarked on what would prove to be a challenging year.

As a mature student, Thibodeau not only had to learn the program content, but also the technological skills necessary for the blended learning format NBCC adopted to satisfy public health guidelines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. She persevered, her daughter helped, and eventually she got the hang of it. But that was just the first challenge she was to face.

The COVID-19 pandemic touched Thibodeau personally – a beloved extended family member passed away after contracting the virus in an outbreak at a nursing home. As her family mourned the loss, another adversity: Thibodeau was injured in a serious car accident.

Nobody would have blamed Thibodeau if she’d thrown in the towel…but that just wasn’t an option for her.

“There were days that I had trouble motivating myself to keep going,” she said. “But I feel like everyone at NBCC was such a great support system.”

Thibodeau paid that support forward by keeping her fellow students motivated. With her ready smile, infectious laugh, and upbeat attitude, she inspired everyone to keep giving it their all.

“It was my pleasure to give them positivity, a little nudge to keep going.”

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