November is Canada Career Month and we would like to take this opportunity to profile two winners of the Career Development Association of PEI 2022 Phyllis Pitre Bursary for Adult Learners.
Did you know there are many Career Development Professionals across PEI who can help you make your career plans happen? These empathetic and trained professionals encourage and support job seekers and career planners across PEI to take steps toward a lasting and satisfying career. They meet with clients regularly and support them as they move towards their goals.
Two people making their career plans and dreams come true
Lisa Marmen from Ellerslie PEI started out with a career as a laboratory technician after completing a Bachelor of Biochemistry but soon discovered that this career was too lonely.
“My husband at the time had an aspiration to open his own business. So, we picked up our life and moved from Toronto to PEI to run a convenience store. That choice was good for him, but I soon discovered that this career was not at all inspiring for me.”
A WOW moment
“I was approached by a principal at the local school to tutor a student struggling in chemistry, and to do some substitute teaching. That was a WOW moment!”
She soon embarked on a career pathway to earn her Bachelor of Education to teach high school science and math, and she got a permanent position as a teacher. “I loved this role, but felt it was limiting when it comes to making a difference in the lives of struggling students. Back to school I went to complete my Master of Education in Leadership in Inclusive Education.
“Following completion of this program, my career started as Student Services Coordinator and later Student Services Director. This role was challenging and very fulfilling. During this 12-year period, I learned something new every day. However, I was laid off from this position due to restructuring. My career will now be a school Resource Teacher and School Counsellor, with some teaching or administrative tasks.”
Lisa feels the silver lining in her career change is her decision to enroll in a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program at Yorkville University to become a counselling therapist. “This program will help me better meet student needs as a school counsellor. I am also planning a parallel career as a counselling therapist outside the public school system.”
Resiliency and a positive outlook on life have served her well
“When obstacles get in the way of my success, I am creative in problem solving and finding solutions. I do not hesitate to talk about the situation to a trusted colleague or friend. Usually, their questions or suggestions bring me closer to finding a solution.
“Through professional development, I have learned that a shared leadership style that values every member of the team and gives each member space to share their opinions is the best approach. I also have some moments when I struggle with my self-confidence and decision-making. I question my own competence in difficult situations. I think this reflexive practice helps me make well-informed choices and use emotions to act upon my life choices.
“I have been told by many colleagues that I am a good listener. When a problem is posed, I try to draw out more information to understand the situation better to make suggestions. I care about how a person feels, what thoughts are going through their mind, and how I can play a role in making their life better by becoming more authentic and aligned with their core values.”
She says these strengths and challenges have made her a stronger and more confident person who works well in a team where shared leadership is valued. “I strive to learn from any situation. I hope to never stop learning. My goal in life is to help others just as counsellors and psychologists have helped me overcome my fears and doubts and discover the value of being my authentic self.”
A deep struggle that redirected her life for the better
“About 10 years ago, after an especially difficult year in an intimate relationship, I was depressed. I could find no solutions to fix the emotional state I was in. I loved my partner, but he could be mean, especially when he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“He kept me awake night after night, fighting. The next day, he would not remember our conversations, or he would apologize and become attentive and loving again. This cycle took a toll on my mental wellbeing.
“In the cold of winter, a morning after a fight, I was driving to analyze the night’s events and figure things out. I had asked friends and neighbours to help me. Nobody wanted to get involved. My parents were against the relationship, seeing how unhealthy it was. I knew that if I turned to them for help, they would encourage me to leave, and this was something I was not ready to do.
“It was not the first time but this one seemed to bring about more desperation than usual. As I cried, I believed that the only solution was to end my life. I would drive as fast as I could, and head straight into a telephone pole. I felt that this action would take away all the hurt I was feeling. It seemed like the solution I was so desperately looking for.
“As I continued to drive, the thought of the consequences of a failed attempt at suicide seemed much worse. I did not want to be dependent on my partner. I then resolved to reach out to a therapist to help me find another solution. That was the best decision of my life. It took many years of counselling, reflecting, and taking small steps towards healing and building up my self-esteem and confidence.
“I am now living the best life I could imagine. I have built up my resilience, recognizing emotions and using them to change unhealthy situations, having a positive outlook and constructive thoughts, enjoying the simple things, and being authentic in all situations.
“Thank you for awarding me the Phyllis Pitre Bursary for Adult Learners,” says Lisa.
Carter Baird turned 35 in October and is pursuing a Bioscience Technology Post Graduate Certificate at Holland College. “I’ve been a resident of Canada and PEI for over a year now, and my decision to leave Colorado and pursue a career here has been completely validated.
“My education and career goals are inextricably linked to each other. I received my Bachelor of Science with a double major in Biochemistry and Theatre in 2010 and I’ve been looking for a slight change in my career for the past couple of years. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted aside from change generally, so I was experimenting with different programs ranging from project management to medical lab tech.”
Carter says it became clear, sometime in lockdown, that the change he and his partner needed wasn’t just career and education but location. He applied to multiple biochemistry programs across Canada.
“One big reason I chose Holland College was the PEI BioAlliance and its relationship with my program’s on-the-job training. It looked like a pipeline to employment before I arrived and has proven to be so now that I’m here. For example, I found my full-time summer job at STEAM PEI at a PEI BioAlliance career fair!”
STEAM PEI is a program that teaches Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math to K-12 students across PEI. “They needed someone to teach a bioscience camp and I was their man. All I had to do was create a curriculum Monday through Friday and deliver it to east and west locations on PEI.
“I was able to create a detailed curriculum in a few weeks because planning and foresight are some of my biggest strengths. My students were in grades 4 through 6. While developing my program, I took time to remember my life at age 10 through 12. I obviously can’t relate to their experience with technology because the Internet was still in its infancy back when I was 10 in 1997. But I can remember what it felt like: the extreme high and low of emotions just on the cusp of a flash flood of hormones, the wonder and excitement of discovery, the joy, terror, and eventual boredom of recess. Most of all, I recall how excited I was for a no-school summer.
“I made it my goal to not just educate these students, but make it fun, like summer should be.”
“Three days before my camp started, I learned that students in grades 1 through 3 would also attend. This gave me just enough time to tweak my curriculum. But then, on my first day of camp in Montague, I learned I would have no access to the Internet for the whole week.
“I overcame my difficult situation with a combination of foresight and collaborative teamwork. I had the foresight to not rely too heavily on Internet access for my curriculum because I didn’t know what venue I would be in for the bioscience camp. We still needed a little bit of Internet to access some critical documents and I was at a loss.
“I revealed the problem to my two teammates and proposed a brainstorm. One of my coworkers had the knowledge and skills to set up a mobile wi-fi hotspot using her phone, which gave us just the amount of Internet we needed to deliver the program.
“My passion and competence give me a bias towards self-reliance. Sometimes, the best solution is in those who surround me and all I have to do is ask. This is one of my greatest challenges and it’s a lesson I learned once more at STEAM PEI this summer.
“I hope to continue collaborating with exciting scientific teams to discover best solutions throughout the rest of my career here on PEI.”
Carter’s goal is to graduate from the Bioscience Technology program, gain employment at a bioscience company on the Island, and leverage his passion and skills to continue the important work of PEI bioscience companies.
“I love this Island and the people here. With the help of the Phyllis Pitre Bursary, I will be better equipped to continue my education and put down roots so I might become a valuable fixture in the PEI bioscience community.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about Career Development Association of PEI, visit www.cdapei.ca