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Father-son duo graduate together amid adversity

From left to right, Cyndi McLean (Business Admin '09), Logan MacLean (AMCA '23 and Achieve '21) and Joe MacLean (Continuing Care '23)
From left to right, Cyndi McLean (Business Admin '09), Logan MacLean (AMCA '23 and Achieve '21) and Joe MacLean (Continuing Care '23) at Convocation.

Convocation is a proud moment for any family, often with graduates’ parents and children cheering them on from the audience. However, the McLean family had a uniquely monumental experience when both father and son put on their graduation gowns to cross the stage at Marconi Campus’ convocation ceremonies in June.

“It was a bit weird at first in all honesty, similarly to how it felt starting the year with him coming to campus with me,” says son Logan (AMCA '23 and Achieve '21). “But I was proud that my father made it through the year and was able to graduate along with me.”

“It was very emotional to see them both get to this junction in their lives, and it made me very proud to be a wife and mother,” says Cyndi McLean (Business Admin '09). She attended NSCC’s Marconi Campus herself as a mature student with two young children.

“I knew it would be the best school for them both for different reasons. I knew they would have the support that they each needed, but that they may not get at another post-secondary institution,” she adds.

Returning to the classroom after 27 years

While the choice to attend college as a mature student is a big decision for many, it was particularly difficult for Joe (Continuing Care '23), Logan’s dad.

Attending NSCC was Joe’s first time in a classroom since high school, as he was a stay-at-home father for 20 years for Logan who has autism. During that time, Joe developed severe anxiety and was diagnosed with Agoraphobia.

“One night my wife showed me a Facebook post about the CCA program at NSCC. Honestly, I had no idea what a CCA was,” explains Joe. “The more I read, the more I told myself that I could definitely do this, and I wasn’t trying to talk myself out of it this time, which was surprising.”

Despite the adjustment to student life being less challenging than he expected, Joe still experienced panic attacks and felt overwhelmed for the first few months. Going into his work experience portion of the program, he thought it would be another few difficult months, but something in him clicked.

“The first day, I sat in my vehicle panicking like it was a professional sport I was playing,” says Joe recounting his worried thoughts. “But then, my train of thought switched to two very important relatives in my life who are both suffering from advanced forms of dementia and receive home care. How would I want them to be treated by someone looking after them? That’s when everything clicked.”

Determined to treat all clients the way he’d want his relatives treated by care workers; he entered the building despite his anxiety.

“I interacted with my first couple of clients and those anxious feelings started to go away. The work didn’t feel like work. The clients didn’t feel like strangers. Things just flowed out of me and into all that I could be and do for them.”

Personal growth

Both Joe and Logan credit the NSCC faculty for supporting their education and personal growth.

“I learned to stop talking negatively about myself and that helped me start taking back control of my life. To not let the things that would normally bother me have any bearing on me was a huge step in the right direction,” says Joe.

“I learned that with a lot of positive reinforcement inside and outside the classroom, I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I wanted it bad enough,” he adds.

Like his father, Logan found the College to be a welcoming community that fostered his growth.

“During my first year at NSCC in the Achieve program, someone recommended the Applied Media Communication Arts as a next step for me,” says Logan. “I was always interested in all types of visual and media arts since I could first pick up a pencil, so after hearing about AMCA I was all for it.”

Logan is grateful for his instructors for being there for him and making his NSCC experience positive. “They taught me so much that I probably would never have learned on my own and I got to try a lot of things that I never thought I’d have been able to before.”