Award winner aims to help preserve First Nations resources
They say hard work and perseverance pays off. It did for Angela Gagnon – returning to school after 25 years, the Environmental and Engineering Technology student and single mom is amongst the first recipients of The Risley Family Access to Opportunities Bursaries.
"I was very relieved and thankful when I got the news," says Angela, who came to NSCC's Ivany Campus after carpal tunnel syndrome derailed her longstanding and successful career as an embroidery artist.
"To go from something I knew intimately to something I didn’t know at all was a huge challenge," says the Plaster Rock, NB native.
Embraced by staff
She credits the "welcoming and supportive" NSCC staff who worked with her, first in Women Unlimited – NSCC's free trades and technology exploration program – and then Academic & Career Connection (ACC), aimed at helping mature students obtain needed credits and prepare for the classroom.
Now Angela is immersed in the two-year Environmental and Engineering Technology diploma program, which focuses on managing and protecting fresh water resources.
Because her family – her heritage is French and Métis – lived off the land in their rural community, "I understand the importance of natural resources and keeping our environment as strong as we possibly can," she says.
"With my new education I would like to explore options of how I can help in restoration and preservation of reserves and of native lands."
Risley Family helps 100 students
Angela is one of 100 first-year students who received a renewable Risley Family Access to Opportunity Bursary for $1,500, which has greatly relieved financial pressure for Gagnon, the sole support for her 18-year-old daughter who has significant disabilities.
In fact, following a win earlier this year in the NSCC campus-wide Ideas 2016 entrepreneurship competition, she’s also pursuing a business opportunity to produce footwear for people with specific disabilities.
"I've been surrounded by encouragement, understanding and great teachers who want me to succeed. I want nothing more than to continue to learn and grow," Angela says.
Gagnon was a master embroidery artist before suffering carpal tunnel syndrome.