January 25, 2018

“I attended Louise Dean Centre for one semester in the Fall of 1971. I was 17 and married. My personality at the time – I was quite introverted and a bit sad – wouldn’t have let me go to a regular high school while I was pregnant. At Louise Dean, there were no worries about judgment, fitting in or explaining. I remember I was hospitalized during the departmental exams because of a fall. The school arranged for me to write the exams in the hospital. That was the kindest thing Louise Dean did for me. I finished high school in January 1972 and my son was born in March.

I was raised with marriage as a goal and I had three children by the time I was 21. Without my high school, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply for the jobs I had. One of my bosses became my mentor; he got me thinking about accounting. I eventually went on to post-secondary education and became an accountant in my 30s. After working for a few years in the private sector, I partnered with a colleague I met in school and we opened our own accounting practice. Those were very happy years. I taught at SAIT and the University of Calgary. Because of where I’d come from, I was able to be kinder to my students than perhaps others were. I wasn’t the most educated teacher, but I hope that I was one of the kindest. People need kindness.

To any teenager in the same situation today, I would say that education is paramount to any happiness, success, self-awareness and confidence you will have in your life. It is so important to be able to rely on yourself and not someone else for your happiness and identity. Education is the key to your future and your children’s future.

Today I am very proud that my daughter Cynthia works with Catholic Family Service as a consulting psychiatrist. She is the most amazing person I know and I am so happy that she is able to give back to the organization that helped me when I needed it the most.”