photo: Laura accepting her Life of Learning Award from Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt

Laura Helm, a graduate of Catholic Family Service’s Never Too Late program, was selected by Calgary Learns to receive a 2017 Life of Learning Award (LOLA).

In 2007, Laura was on her way to school when she was struck by a vehicle and tossed 20 feet. Her head took the force of the landing and, instead of proceeding with her Grade 12 studies, Laura faced a long and difficult rehabilitation period. She was told that her permanent brain injury would prevent her from studying or living independently.

“For the longest time I was extremely self-conscious of my brain injury,” Laura said in her LOLA acceptance speech. “I felt worthless and incapable of doing anything and therefore I didn’t do anything for a while after all of the rehabilitation. Now let’s fast forward to last year when I found out about the Never Too Late program to get my GED.”

Skeptical about her ability to complete the program, Laura nevertheless gave it a try.

“Throughout the program I had many times in class where I would panic and cry because it was really hard, and so that made me feel even more like I couldn’t do it. Then I did the exams and I passed every one of them but science.

“I was overjoyed that I passed math over science. Math was my biggest stress. I passed the science exam when I did it the second time and was able to graduate with all my classmates and get a GED, which blew my mind and my confidence went way up.”

With more confidence and a high school equivalency under her belt, Laura completed academic upgrading courses and was accepted into Bow Valley College’s Disability Studies diploma program. She recently passed her first course with flying colours.

Laura is still a familiar face at Never Too Late, attending regularly to share her inspirational story with new students.

“It has been an absolute delight to get to know Laura as her commitment to overcoming adversity has inspired many of us, including myself,” said Community Services Supervisor Ray Gibbons, who nominated Laura for the award.

“She most definitely has a bright future ahead of her and I am sure that she is destined to have a positive impact on many people’s lives.”

Laura says that, if the going gets rough, she will look back at her success in Never Too Late as an example of what she can achieve.

“If it gets hard I’m just going to remember that I did it every time I thought I couldn’t. The only thing stopping anyone from their goal is their own willpower.”


The Never Too Late Program is now offered in two Calgary locations:

Our Lady of the Assumption School for residents of Bowness, Montgomery, Greenwood Village, Silver Springs and Ranchlands. For more information, contact Ray Gibbons at 403-205-5292,

Father Lacombe High School for residents of the Greater Forest Lawn area: Forest Lawn, Forest Heights, Erinwoods, Dover, Penbrooke Meadows, Southview and Albert Park/Radisson. For more information, contact Hannah Coderre at 403-604-7418,