Aboriginal alumna follows dream career, thanks Okanagan College
Dawn Naas graduated from Okanagan College’s Adult Academic and Career Preparation program and is now ready to take the next step towards her dream career.
“When I first started going to school at the College I thought all of it was going to be a fight,” says Naas. “There was a lot of emotional support and financial help that I wasn’t in anyway expecting and it is the reason why I not only made it through my program but came out with really great grades – everyone was so accepting of me and my needs and were non-judgmental.”
The 44-year-old mother moved to Vernon in 2014 with her two children to work on her own personal healing, take care of her spirit and set a good example for her kids – all with the goal of starting fresh.
There was a lot of emotional support and financial help that I wasn’t expecting...
“I’ve been working on breaking negative cycles that I’ve experienced for the majority of my life so I decided to move my family here and go back to school,” explains Naas. “I’ve been focused on healing for quite some time now, and thanks to the College, I’m in a position to follow my dreams of becoming a massage therapist and being able to heal other people.”
Living in Vancouver, she used to help with Indigenous youth conferences, provide peer counselling services, and give basic counselling to first nations families when she worked in the volunteer centre in East Hastings, an impoverished area of Vancouver that faces lower socio-economic challenges.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t healthy enough to do that kind of work and it really took a toll on me. After moving to Vernon and focusing on my health, I’m finally in a place where I can say that I’m healing,” says Naas. “Part of the healing process for me was writing. I’ve always loved writing and I even made it my goal to compete in the College’s annual 3-Hour Short Story contest back in September.”
Naas not only competed in the four-city competition, she won the Vernon regional title for her original story, Un-fragmenting Thoughts, which takes inspiration from her experiences as a youth in East Hastings struggling to write a letter to her high-school teacher.
“For me, putting myself out there and choosing to compete was the reward,” explains Naas. “I actually didn’t find out until a few weeks later that I had won the regional competition and the prize money that went towards my tuition.”
As an OC graduate, Naas has completed step one of her educational goals. She is preparing to enrol at the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy with plans to run her own massage therapy business. Part of her business will feature a mobile unit that can go to addiction centres and transitional houses for women, so she can to volunteer her services and help spread healing.
“After the truly amazing experiences I had at Okanagan College going back to school as a mature student with two kids, I now make it my mission to encourage all of my friends to go to school – to go to the College – to pursue their dreams.”
What is Adult Academic Career Preparation?
Adult Academic Career Preparation is also known as upgrading - when a student out of high school returns to take courses. People of all ages and backgounds sign up for upgrading classes, which are often the first step to an amazing new career and life for many students.
Why upgrade your education?
- Complete high school graduation requirements
- Upgrade your high school marks
- Complete pre-requisites for College programs
- Develop your reading, writing and math skills
- Improve your career opportunities
How much does it cost?
Upgrading classes are free! There is also financial help available to cover extra costs like student fees, partial travel costs and unsubsidized child care.
Talk to the Administration staff at your campus for a copy of the grant application and help completing the form.
Upgrading is available at each Okanagan College location, and it is easy to get started. Stop by the campus administration office to talk to someone, or fill out this simple online form to begin the process.