In honour of Phyllis Pitre, former Chair of the Career Development Association of PEI Inc. (CDA of PEI) a bursary was established. The awards are for PEI adult learners who are working towards completing a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree.
At the age of 48, in November, 2011, Phyllis Pitre passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
She lived in Charlottetown and was formerly of Tignish Shore. She valued lifelong learning and made a tremendous impact on people in her personal life and those she worked with to encourage and support them as they made life decisions, including career planning.
This year, CDA of PEI was pleased to offer the 2019 Phyllis Pitre Bursary of $500 each to Hannah Coles, Janet Payne, and Wei Chen.
Janet Payne, Summerside
Lifelong learning is one step at a time
I want to thank CDA of PEI for continuing the Phyllis Pitre bursary. I knew Phyllis in her role at Career Development Services (CDS) and the CDA of PEI, and had tremendous respect for her commitment to lifelong learning and career development.
My educational journey has taken many years. It took nine years to complete my BA in Psychology. During that time, my husband Neil and I had four children. Each came to class with me when they were newborns, and many professors were supportive of breastfeeding and mother-baby togetherness.
My Masters in Education took another five years, and two more of our children were born during that time. Once I graduated, I accepted a job at CDS, and embarked on the quest to complete additional graduate work so I could be certified with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. CDS has been an incredible employer, and I have worked as a Counsellor for 14 years.
I returned to UPEI in 2008 and took another five years to complete a Bachelor of Education, finishing my final practicum while on maternity leave with our seventh child.
Now, at the age of 48, I am back at UPEI once again, working towards my PhD in Education. My focus continues to be on counselling, and my thesis proposal is called Dream Weavers: Women’s Group-Based Narrative Therapy using Traditional Matriarchal Practices and Indigenous Ways of Knowing as an Alternative to Mainstream Career Counselling.
My message to women comes from my friend Dave, a bricklayer. You can do almost anything if you tackle one brick at a time. Make the decision that school will happen for you, take that first step, and keep showing up for class, even if you’ve been up all night with a baby. One day your last brick will be in place and you’ll have created something beautiful.
Thanks again to the Phyllis Pitre family, and to my husband Neil, and my children for their support.
Wei Chen, Stratford
Following dreams to a new career path
I came to Canada two years ago from Beijing, China, where I worked as a Hydraulic Engineer for five years and as a HR Manager for 12 years. I live in Stratford with my 11-year-old son, who is in grade six at Stratford Elementary.
Stratford helped me explore my interest in art with happiness and satisfaction. I took art classes at the Town Hall last winter. The diversity – watercolour, acrylic, felting, sketching, pottery and more – was not available to me growing up poor in a small town in China.
After a year of volunteer teaching art at Stratford Elementary, I started classes at the Fundamental Arts program at Holland College, in September. I am especially interested in the PEI traditional handicraft of felting, which is the process of separating, tangling and relocking fibers to make beautiful pictures. I plan to develop and expand the craft to the world.
I have already taken steps to start a business by creating a portfolio of my artwork, thanks to help from my art teacher Tricia MacNeil Baldwin. I became a member of the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce and the PEI Businesswomen’s Association, and I am a client of the PEI Association of Newcomers to Canada and PEI Connectors.
I attended a workshop on how to start a successful home-based business. The instructor was Hope Milner of Bohemian Findings, a best-selling ETSY online shop. She wanted to buy some of my felting work, and suggested it would be a good product to sell on ETSY. Her words gave me hope.
I am grateful to the Phyllis Pitre Bursary, which will help me pursue my goal to be an artist. I hope to improve my creative abilities. Learning and curiosity are the basis of my confidence. I believe in following your dreams. If it doesn’t exist, start it. If it has started, build it. If it’s built, enhance it.
Hannah Coles, Charlottetown
Motivated to pursue a new career
In 2005, I graduated from the Culinary Institute of Canada and worked in the restaurant industry in Toronto for about 10 years.
It was an awesome experience, I loved being around people, but I couldn’t see myself working in this career when I am 50.
Four years ago, I returned home to Charlottetown and began a career as a Resident Care Worker at the Garden Home.
The in-house training I received there and my experiences working with the residents motivated and inspired me to advocate for people in the healthcare system and to affect change.
Two years ago, I began seriously thinking about a nursing career. I needed to upgrade my high school marks, so I enrolled in Adult Education at Holland College. What they do for people in that program is amazing.
I excelled at Biology, Chemistry, Math, and English, achieving close to a 94 percent average. I studied hard while working full time.
In May 2019, I was accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing program at UPEI. Eager to get started, I took Psychology 110 – a required elective – this summer, and received 90 percent.
Going forward in my nursing career, I would like to work in mental health and addictions. I went through therapy to deal with PTSD from having been abused. I have empathy for others and I care especially for those who do not have a voice.
The Phyllis Pitre Bursary is a great help, and I am grateful. I want something better for myself, and I am ready for the opportunity to start a new career.
For more information about the Phyllis Pitre Bursary, email [email protected].