Meet our Class of 2020 Valedictorians.
Sarah Lumsden was employed in the retail sector for a decade yet yearned for a different career and wasn’t sure which direction to take. Fearful of leaving her job and taking the wrong path, she found the support she needed through Women Unlimited. With the organization’s support, she was able to investigate various trades to help determine which discipline was right for her.
She discovered her passion for power engineering where, at Akerley Campus, she was able to apply the operational and leadership skills learned in retail and use her love of science and math. She had found her doorway to build a promising, stable future.
Sarah is currently employed in a first class refrigeration plant and second class steam plant in Lunenburg. She is eager to reach for the stars, first aiming for second and first-class power engineering certificates. Her goal following these certifications is to become the first female first class power engineer and perhaps return to the College one day to teach.
Message for the Class of 2020: “Be proud of how far you’ve come during your time with NSCC. You are exceptional. Let your light shine as you move into your new career.”
Carly Dawn Floris
Carly Dawn Floris’ grandmother has always been one of the most important people in her life. Carly has fond memories from childhood of spending time with her grandmother, both at home and at the nursing home where she worked. Carly loved being around seniors and listening to their stories.
Initially she thought she would study early childhood education, so Carly worked as a nanny after graduating from high school to save money before going to college. When a bursary was announced for the Continuing Care Assistant program at Annapolis Valley Campus, Carly was so excited at the thought of following in her grandmother’s footsteps and having an affordable way to pursue her studies close to home, that she enrolled in the program.
She credits the entire NSCC community for creating a supportive and inclusive environment for her and her classmates. She loved how everyone wanted to help each other, whether on an issue around classwork, or in the many community initiatives that were carried out through the year, such as clothing drives. She also felt grateful for her family who supported her every step of the way.
Carly now works at Whitehills Long Term Care Centre in Hammonds Plains. She comes home happy every day because she’s doing what she loves and takes joy in sharing her message of the importance of being compassionate and gentle with one another.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Take your time, do your readings and just be gentle with yourself. For some, school can be difficult, and it takes hard work and dedication. But, I promise, it will all be worth it in the end.”
Hoping to switch careers and work in the mental health sector, Sonia Mallet spent eight months researching various programs until she found the Mental Health Recovery and Promotion program at Burridge Campus. Impressed by the curriculum and extensive field experience, as well as wanting the quality and practicality of a community college education, she knew it was the right match for her.
Early into her studies, Sonia was impressed by the academic quality and how much more intense and condensed the field of study was compared to her previous university studies. Not only were the academic expectations high, but there were always opportunities and events in which to participate. These included Mi’kmaq and Black History Month celebrations, Bell Let’s Talk Day, and food drives for the campus food bank.
Sonia never felt more supported in her entire life than when she was studying at NSCC. Because of this, she had the confidence to go outside her comfort zone and participate in the annual Challenge Nova Scotia competition in which she came in third place with her teammate Samantha MacBeth.
Sonia hopes to find a job in her field and aspires to create programs and services around mental health and end-of-life issues including grief, death planning/preparation, and advocacy work around medical assistance in dying.
Message to the Class of 2020: “2020 graduates are a resilient bunch. Yes, these are challenging times, but your hard work will pay off. It may take a little longer and some ingenuity, but remember, you are proud NSCC graduates. You are determined and will keep going when the going gets tough. I believe in us!”
Charlene (Charlie) Harvey
Charlene (Charlie) Harvey became interested in a social services career after spending summers working with Indigenous cadets as part of her volunteer duties at Cadet Training Camp HMCS Acadia, located in Clementsport, NS. Being Indigenous and a member of Cadets Canada herself, she was inspired to help the youth in her community. She searched for a program that could help her become a youth counsellor and found that in the Social Services Program at Cumberland Campus.
Though Charlie entered her program with one goal, she soon realized there were countless career options in her field of study and a wide range of opportunities to help Indigenous communities everywhere.
For Charlie, being Indigenous meant living much of her life in fear. She applauds NSCC for welcoming her with open arms and allowing her to find her voice. She credits her time at the College for showing her that there are safe and inclusive spaces where you don’t have to fear being yourself regardless of skin colour, culture or choices. She hopes to someday create that same safe space for the youth with whom she hopes to work and do her part to help heal and celebrate her culture.
Charlie is furthering her studies at Cape Breton University where she is majoring in psychology and minoring in Indigenous studies. She continues to volunteer and is a dedicated single mother to her son, Logan.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Keep moving forward!" The world will always be changing, and we have to adapt and keep moving with it. Let’s continue to move forward and create new endings to the stories that we write. This is just the beginning of the amazing changes that we are about to make in the world. Be proud! Be kind! and be brave!”
Anna Marie Broderick
Anna Marie Broderick worked in the retail industry for many years until an unfortunate work-related accident. Unable to continue working in her retail position but committed to learning and growing in her field, Anna discovered the Business Administration - Management program at NSCC. Feeling that it was a perfect fit for enhancing her skills, she enrolled in the program through eCampus allowing her to do most of her program from home.
Finding inspiration in the camaraderie of her classmates and the engaging discussions with her instructors, Anna appreciated being able to focus on her studies remotely and felt the interactions both encouraged her and enhanced her learning. She found continued support through family and friends as well as her faculty advisor.
Still uncertain about if or when she will be allowed to return to her previous career, Anna hopes to continue her studies and pursue a Bachelor of Commerce Degree.
Message to Class of 2020: “Focus on continued growth and learning, be open to change and, when unsure, ask questions until you fully understand.”
As a family caregiver, Marie Weeren saw firsthand the difference compassionate, knowledgeable and effective health care professionals can make. Already having had a career in public relations and as a freelance writer, this new revelation drew her to the field of healthcare and NSCC's Medical Office Administration program at IT Campus.
Marie was buoyed by her dedicated faculty, wonderful classmates and financial support through NSCC Foundation. This combination worked to provide her with a truly all-round, positive learning experience. She also found there were genuine connections with IT Campus staff, because they see students as individuals, not just W numbers.
Marie also found joy in activities that added to her time at NSCC, such as giving back to the community. She is so grateful for the loving support of her family that helped her succeed. Her passion for learning is leading her to furthering her education in fall 2021 through Master of Science in Audiology studies at Dalhousie University.
Message to the Class of 2020: "Our graduating class is like none other in the history of NSCC. We all needed one essential ingredient to get to this point: determination. It is determination that led some students, like me, to return to school after more years than I care to count. Determination that led some to travel here from other countries. Determination that required sacrifices in the short term because we believed it would be worth it in the end."
Passionate about furthering his education to ensure safety in workplaces, Mashud Zebo enrolled in the Occupational Health and Safety program at NSCC. Before becoming a student at NSCC, Mashud completed a post-graduate certificate in marketing research and data analysis at Centennial College in Toronto. There, he gained workplace experience in the construction industry and was inspired to learn more.
At the College, Mashud thrived in his program in the IT Campus community. He acknowledges the help and encouragement he received from his instructors, student advisors, campus librarians and the International office team. Motivated to help provide a welcoming and engaging student experience for his fellow classmates, Mashud became part of the IT Campus International Student Ambassadors and volunteered for many on-campus activities.
Following graduation, Mashud plans to secure employment in the safety industry and is looking to further his skills through professional development. Originally from Ghana, Mashud hopes to apply what he’s learned to help foster the safety industry in his home country.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Fellow graduates, continue to strive for excellence in your respective field of work or education. Seeking knowledge should not end with your graduation at NSCC. The more you know, the more you can do better. Wherever you find yourself, treat your fellow friends with compassion and respect. We need to improve our interpersonal relationships and provide meaningful and valuable experiences to one another. The world needs this especially during this pandemic. Remember the African proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”
Kathleen Shreenan first came to NSCC after high school when she enrolled in the Medical Office Administration program. She spent several years after graduating working in her field. Inspired by her late mother, who cared for others in the health care sector as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Kathleen returned to the College to study in the Practical Nursing program at Ivany Campus to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
Having heard great things about NSCCs nursing program, Kathleen was excited to learn with inspirational instructors and to experience hands-on training in her clinical placements, including one with an oncology unit. During her in-sector placements, Kathleen found it extremely rewarding as she was able to connect with the patients and families on a deeper level due to her own life experiences.
After graduating, Kathleen hopes to secure a job as an LPN and then continue her education at university so she can eventually realize a degree in nursing. She feels she has chosen a career that will allow her to continuously learn, grow and expand her knowledge throughout her journey.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Throughout life, the types of challenges you experience are often out of your control, but you get to choose how to react to and handle the situation. In these times it's very easy to think, Why is this happening to me? Instead, I encourage you to change your perspective to What can I learn from this?"
McKayla States had attended Nova Scotia Firefighters School before deciding to try something different and secured a job with Scotiabank in Windsor, NS. This shift in her career aspirations opened the door to enrolling in NSCC’s Business Administration program at Kingstec Campus. It was the quick commute, focus on hands-on learning and small class sizes that solidified her decision. She viewed it as an opportunity to enhance her already developing skillset in business and invest in her future.
Throughout her two years with the College, McKayla’s family and friends played a major role in her success, supporting her in her studies and making sure she stayed focused on her goals. She attributes her instructor’s kindness, laid back approach to teaching and academic support as the inspiration she needed to want to do better every day.
McKayla believes that the time spent at NSCC can really impact a person’s life in a positive way, if they let it, and truly enjoyed her experience while attending. She emphasizes the importance of making new friends and participating in all the extra-curricular activities available – creating memories that last a lifetime.
McKayla has known from the beginning of the program, where she wanted to be at graduation. She is currently seeing her dreams become reality - continuing to work, taking on more responsibility and being offered opportunities to move up the ladder. She hopes that, one day, her hard work could lead her back to a teaching position at NSCC.
Message to the Class of 2020: “It’s okay if you don’t know what you would like to do right away, take some time to be proud of your success, you’ve shown that you can achieve anything. Good luck in your future endeavours!”
Before coming to NSCC, Jacob was running a metal artwork company. Working hard and learning new things always inspired him, so when he needed to save money on repairs for his car, he started teaching himself how to fix small things. He would use the vehicles in his extended family to practice his new skills and further his understanding of how cars worked.
Realizing he wanted to learn even more than he could teach himself, Jacob enrolled in the Automotive Service and Repair program at Lunenburg Campus to get formal training and turn his passion into a career. He loved the structured approach to hands-on learning that the College offered. That, combined with the atmosphere and engagement of employees and classmates on the Lunenburg campus, made for a successful learning experience.
Jacob is currently working towards his provincial Red Seal certification so he can work in the automotive field. He credits perseverance and hard work for keeping him going, especially during the pandemic.
Message to the Class of 2020: “No matter what challenges you face in life, in work or in your personal life, keep your head up and do your best. Giving that best effort, regardless of the outcome, will always lead to you feeling the most accomplished.”
For years, Charmaine worked as a finance clerk and Indian Registry administrator for the Potlotek First Nation. Her thoughts on her future changed when she spent time as a patient at the Cape Breton Reginal Hospital. While there, she was in awe of the ability of health workers to balance the need to multi-task and work in a busy environment while showing compassion and empathy to those needing support. That experience inspired her to want to pursue a career in the health sector.
Having heard positive things about NSCC and feeling it was the perfect fit for her already busy life as a working mother, Charmaine began her studies at the Marconi Campus in the Medical Office Administration program.
She was immediately impressed by the sense of community she felt at the College. Whether it was asking for help or working on a common goal, she felt fully supported by her faculty members and loved the dynamic and camaraderie between fellow students and everyone at the campus.
After successfully completing her program, Charmaine decided she wanted to further her studies at Cape Breton University, while also continuing to work.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Not everyone comes from the same financial or social standing, nor do we learn at the same levels. We shouldn't judge, because everyone has a story. We should, instead, listen if given the opportunity.”
Madison Murray spent her first years after high school graduation studying in the human nutrition program at St. FX University. Uncertain about next steps, her mother encouraged her to try NSCC, so Madison spent her next two years in the Practical Nursing program at Pictou Campus.
Madison praised the College for changing her life. She was impressed with every aspect of her experience, including the academics, the commitment to inclusiveness and the overall feeling of community.
She observed that each program is like a little family in one larger family and expressed her gratitude for her instructors and fellow students for their support and for helping build her confidence in her own abilities.
Madison is thrilled to be starting her career working with the VON in the greater Halifax area and plans to further her studies in nursing to eventually become a Registered Nurse.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Fellow graduates: We are now being welcomed into the world with the education and expertise it takes to bring a change in our lives and the lives of others. It’s up to us to make that impact powerful, peaceful, and positive. Congratulations, and good luck to you all.”
Wanting to continue her education after high school but not wanting to study far from home, Cassidy Hiltz found the Shelburne Campus at NSCC the perfect fit for her.
Pleased she could get an exceptional education in her hometown, Cassidy enrolled in the Continuing Care Assistant program.
Cassidy felt that her world opening up when she started her program. She credits her instructors and peers for helping her mature and grow – both in what she learned in her program and in life.
She hopes to work for a few years in her role as a Continuing Care Assistant and eventually continue her studies at another NSCC campus in the Practical Nursing program.
Message to Class of 2020: “Even in the tough times, like the pandemic, you can always push through any challenge you come face to face with – and thrive.”
Drew Muller always had a passion for the environment. Upon graduating high school, she enrolled in the Natural Resources Environmental Technology program at Strait Area Campus. She felt the curriculum at NSCC was far more in-depth than any competing university and that, combined with being close to home and offering small class sizes, made it her top choice.
Believing that knowledge is power, Drew inspires those around her by encouraging them to continue learning and supporting one another along the way. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Engineering Technology at Cape Breton University and is deciding whether to pursue her master’s in environmental studies or travel to James Cook University in Australia where she has been accepted on an Excellence Scholarship in Marine Biology.
Drew credits her fellow NSCC classmates as well as her instructors for being a constant support as she progressed through her program.
Message to the Class of 2020: “I hope as your journey at NSCC comes to an end, that you realize this is merely a stepping stone to the rest of your life. Remember as you continue to propel forward in your future, that this life is meant to be lived for you. Life is not easy but good things never do come easily. Continue onward, always striving to educate and be educated. Get out there and make some waves.”
When Emma Culgin started the Child and Youth Care Program after high school, she hoped to become the person she had needed for support as a teenager. While struggles with addiction and mental health derailed her journey for a time, she remained focused on her goal. With perseverance and support, Emma was able to return to classes at Truro Campus dedicated to self-discovery and making healthy changes for her future. She graduates both healthy and with an unshakable belief in her abilities.
Emma found support from across the Truro community: from faculty and facilities staff members and the residence team to librarians, administrative staff and everyone in between. She says that without their kind gestures, words and support, she may not be where she is today.
Emma found the College to be a place where she felt very safe to learn, make mistakes and grow. She says students were held accountable and given enough space to learn. Those she found real support from inspired her in different ways as each went above and beyond to help whenever she needed it. They showed her what NSCC is all about. Now she is happily employed in her field.
Message to the Class of 2020: “Graduates will go into the workforce with the kindness and empathy our society needs. As a graduating class, we can help make everyone feel included. I’m absolutely honoured to be part of this year’s graduating class. We are full of resilience and perseverance.”