Felicia Grant – Bachelor of Arts
Mount Allison University
My name is Felicia Mae Grant and I am from Pabineau First Nation. This year I have finished my post-secondary education, graduating from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Arts; Major in Art History, minor in History.
With great dedication and perseverance, I accomplished this goal. One I never anticipated previously and a goal I achieved despite many obstacles. I have faced numerous personal hardships and financial difficulties while trying to complete my degree. I want to sincerely assure that no matter how hard it gets, it is possible to finish your degree.
It took me four years to complete this degree, following along my academic program. Making sure that I received all of my credits and graduated on time was no easy task. After all, it is quite common for people to fail courses or struggle with the material of class work in their first year. My academic career through university was far from smooth. I went through the usual shock of going to university, where my grades went down. I was discouraged and confused at first, but I learned how to improve my skills to a university level. Even my failures were small successes, for they taught me what I needed to change in order to read better, to critically think, hone abstract thought and write. My interests and grades led me to the Art History program, where I did quite well. I simply followed my interests and academics, leading me to the program best suited for me.
I was further challenged by personal events while I was at Mount Allison. Personal growth was expected, but not so quickly. I began university when I was eighteen and I can easily say at twenty one, I am not the same person. The growing process continued in university, where I learned how to be independent and take care of myself. I also was faced with new concepts that shaped my outlook on life. I processed and questioned things I’d never thought about, such as politics, social studies and faith. I also dealt with financial troubles, having to support myself through university. I worked hard in between school, working as an administration assistant in Pabineau. There I helped other students find work to pay for their post-secondary education expenses. My savings were dedicated to covering what my sponsorship could not. The most difficult year of my academic career was my last, since my parents separated. It was a complicated tragedy in my life, one that brought a lot of conflict and added to the financial difficulties I already faced. Not to mention the stress of dealing with it emotionally and mentally while continuing studies. It was frightening and hard, but I continued my education. I did not let my personal troubles stop me, as painful as they were to handle while continuing school. I am proud to say that I have completed my education and will be graduating May 16th, 2016.
Education is one of the most important things to pursue. It allows us to navigate our world and face the issues we come across. I am an advocate for education because I understand it is key in not only breaking the poverty cycle so many First Nations people are affected with, but to improve our communities and lives. Post-Secondary education is not only a certification for a career, but an experience that shapes you as a person. I feel that post-secondary education has given me the opportunity to improve my life and the words to articulate my thoughts. Despite whatever challenges you may face in your life, it is possible to complete a post-secondary education.
My advice to any incoming students who are interested in pursuing a post-secondary education is to understand that it will be quite a feat to achieve. It will come with some great adjustments and obstacles, but know that it is worth it. Yes, there will be nights where you’re sleep deprived and frustrated with essays. There will be sudden changes and life experiences you didn’t expect that are more difficult to handle than previously. There will be times when you are struggling and having mental break downs about what you’re doing in school. But you will grow out of the hardships and find purpose and meaning in your life. I would also like to mention that it isn’t the end of the world if you find yourself studying something you didn’t expect, or find out you don’t like what program you were accepted into. Universities and colleges are very accommodating and encourage exploration in disciplines. Also, your degree is valuable, no matter what you study. Life is flexible and fluid and you will have changing interests as you grow and dive further into your studies. After all, I started with a major in geography.
I also would like to encourage future students to attend Mount Allison University. It is a wonderful school abundant with opportunity and the ability to explore your interests. Mount Allison is a close knit community and a university with a growing Indigenous presence. This past year, Mount Allison hired an Indigenous Affairs Coordinator, Doreen Richard, a lovely woman who is passionate about our voice, presence and education. She has done everything in her power to support myself, my family and the other indigenous students at Mount Allison, unifying us. She will certainly do the same for you. Mount Allison University is currently in the process of creating an Indigenous Affairs Center, a place for support, community and guidance. Unfortunately, I will not be a student when this comes to fruition. However there is a promising future for indigenous people at Mount Allison and I suggest you give it a try and become part of it.
Keep going and never give up. The time between when I got my acceptance letter to my confirmation of graduation passed quickly. Use that time to learn about the world, explore your interests and yourself. Find what you are passionate about and learn it, no matter what it is. You were meant to accomplish something important in life and whatever you thrive at is important and a valuable contribution. Remember to take care of your health, to pace yourself and enjoy the little things in between. Even if you fail a class or need to adjust a few things, I promise you will feel happy and proud of yourself when you’ve completed all your requirements. Education is a great opportunity for First Nations people, take the chance!