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Nurturing the minds of tomorrow

A young woman in a flowery, pink shirt smiles with an open mouth at a young child. They are seated at a picnic table in a park on a sunny day.

"I just didn't see myself as capable."

Frankie-Rae Quinn knows too well the burden of self-doubt. She struggled with her mental health as a teen, and the thought of finding the right career path seemed impossible, often added to feelings of anxiety and depression she was already battling.

"Every day felt like a struggle. I had trouble envisioning a happy future for myself, one where I could live in my home community and find a meaningful career," she says. "Those thoughts only made things worse."

She tried to move to Halifax but found that her health deteriorated. She knew she wanted to be back home in Parrsboro where she had support and understanding from her family, friends and community. She decided to look at programs exclusively at the NSCC Cumberland Campus.

"It was close to home and I thought it was my best chance to find a career," explains Frankie. That's when she found the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program.

"Because of my struggles with mental health, I wanted to help others," she says. "I didn't recognize my mental health issues at first, and I thought, if I can help a child early in life, by being a caring and compassionate person in their life, how great would that be?"

Gaining confidence

As an ECE student, she knew she found her calling. She excelled in the program and finished top of her class, even tutoring other students.

"That was a big deal for me," she says. "To have the confidence to help others was a turning point. My 17-year-old self wouldn’t have believed I could do that"

She also credits much of her success to the sense of community she felt while studying at the College.

"I wasn't just a number and felt like people really cared about me. Staff and instructors let us know there was support if we were having a hard time, that we could just knock on the door. That meant so much. The skills I developed didn't just help me in my career, but also helped me as a person."

Making a difference

After graduating this past June, Frankie was hired at Little Lamb's Childcare Centre in Amherst. She sees her journey as one that helped her arrive to the place she was meant to be.

"I’ve found my life's purpose and I'm as happy as a pig in mud," she says. "When you break through with a child, when they have an 'ah ha' moment and they look at you with awe, laughter and joy, you know you've made a difference. It doesn't get any better than that."

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