by Ethan Paquet
Each fall, the PEI Literacy Alliance awards bursaries and scholarships to help remove financial barriers for adults working to improve their education and their lives.
In November 2022, the Alliance partnered with Master Packaging, Holland College, Tops to Floors, Murphy’s Pharmacies, Peter Gzowski Foundation for Literacy, Canadian Tire, and Upstreet Craft Brewing to raise money for bursaries and scholarships, and to support their free literacy programs on PEI.
Lydia Cudmore won the Master Packaging Scholarship Award, which awards $1,500 to students enrolled in the Alliance’s Essential Employability Skills program who are entering a full-time post-secondary program.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be a nurse, but it never seemed possible,” she says. “School never came easy to me. I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression, and that had a big impact on my marks and attendance.”
In high school, she felt she had to work harder than her classmates in order to keep up. After experiencing two concussions while playing soccer in Grade 10, things became even more complicated, she says.
“It was very scary. I experienced bad migraines and vision issues. I lost vision in my right eye for a couple of days after my second concussion. The side effects were detrimental to my grades, attendance, and mental health.”
When discussing plans for post-secondary, she felt a lack of support from the school administrators, who told her that UPEI’s Nursing program was hard to get into and that her marks were not high enough. “From there, I put in a lot of hard work, and I graduated with an overall average of 85 percent, but it still wasn’t good enough for a future in nursing.”
In September 2020, Lydia began taking the Environmental Applied Science Technology program at Holland College. “Right away I knew it wasn’t the right fit, and I was really struggling with my mental health. I realized I had to change something.”
She dropped out of the program after the first semester and began considering what steps she had to take to get on the right path to nursing. Soon after, she saw an advertisement for a program that she thought might be exactly what she needed.
The 10-week Essential Employability Skills Health Sector program, offered by the Alliance, helps prepare participants for work in long-term care homes and other healthcare settings.
Topics and skills covered by the program included digital literacy skills, numeracy skills and more. Participants also take part in training for CPR, WHMIS, Psychological First Aid, and Gentle Persuasive Approach Dementia Care. A six-week summer work placement allows participants to put their knowledge to use and gain work experience in the healthcare field through partner employers.
“This program made me feel that I could do anything if I worked hard enough and showed me that it’s okay to take time to figure out your path. I was inspired to enroll in Adult Education to upgrade my high school marks and I was accepted into the Practical Nursing program at Holland College,” Lydia says.
In the Practical Nursing program, she gained even more hands-on experience and was inspired to take the leap to apply to the UPEI Nursing program.
“During my second semester of the practical nursing program, I was accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at UPEI. I am now in my first year of the Nursing program at UPEI and I love it.”
Lydia says there have been many times when she felt that she had to give up on her dreams or that she could not get to the next step in her goals, but a strong support system keeps her motivated.
“My mom and my boyfriend Elliot are always there for me when I need to chat. Both of them encourage me every day to keep working towards my goals and they know how to support me when something is stressing me out.
“I am thankful to be on my path in the nursing program and am thankful for this scholarship from the PEI Literacy Alliance to help me on my way. I look forward to my future as a Registered Nurse and a member of the healthcare field.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about the PEI Literacy Alliance Adult Learner Bursaries, visit www.peiliteracy.ca/adult-learner-awards
To learn more about the Essential Employability Skills program, visit www.peiliteracy.ca/ees
A complete list of Bursaries, Awards and Scholarships on PEI can be found at www.employmentjourney.com/bursaries-awards-scholarships