Laura Buck

B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Anthropology, also a Diploma in Business Administration from NBCC in 2004.

Laura shares her story leading to her university graduation in May 2011.

My name is Laura Buck and I am a Mi’kmaq from Fort Folly First Nation in New Brunswick. I will be graduating from Mount Allison University May 16th 2011 after 4.5 years of enrollment. It has been a very long journey which will be coming to a successful end soon! I will be receiving my B.A in Psychology with a Minor in Anthropology and I also have a Diploma in Business Administration from NBCC in 2004.

Immediately after high school in 2002 I flew out West and tried to live the dream of being a city girl in Calgary. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few short months and I returned home to live with my parents, jobless and with no secondary education. My grandmother was a teacher many decades ago and throughout my junior high and high school life she always encouraged me to pursue post-secondary education. I eventually decided to enroll at NBCC Moncton and take the Business Administration Program in the fall of September 2003. I graduated with Honours in the Spring of 2004 and decided to continue my education at St. Thomas University in 2006. Being 21, I had to apply as a ‘mature student’ and explain what I had been doing since I left high school and why I would be a good fit at university. Being an older student I found it difficult to make friends as I had never experienced life in residence or been a part of any frosh activities or school groups. I certainly regret not going to school sooner or being a part of any groups as I’m sure it would have made my first few years more enjoyable. I was away from home living on my own and during my second year and I decided I would move back to Sackville where I would be closer to friends and family and enroll at Mt. Allison University. This however, came with complications as some of my credits would not transfer which meant I would have to do another half a year to complete my degree.

I had many issues with class selection at Mt. A as I was transferring from another institution and did not know all the “in’s and out’s” of registering with a different school or knowing all the deadlines. I ended up taking too many 2nd year courses than was required and last summer had to take 2 correspondence courses to catch up for graduation (which is very hard to do when it is summer time and you want to be outside!). After finishing my 3rd year at Mt. A, in the Spring of 2008, I ended up moving back to Calgary for a year and half to live with my boyfriend, who was already working there and trying to move home. I figured I would be able to continue school in the Winter Semester of 2010. Upon moving back to Sackville with my boyfriend, I had to re-apply to Mt. A to get accepted again and by the time I was ready to go back I was too late in applying for funding from the North Shore Micmac District Council. This required me to get a student loan for that semester. Considering this, I am set back $5,000 but I am grateful it is the only school loan I have ever had and thanks to NSMDC I will literally be debt free.

Although I started my last year at Mt. A in September of 2010, my grandfather had a severe stroke December 1st. The timing of this could not have been worse as it was exam period and I wanted to finish my last year with top marks. During this time our family had to come together and sit at the Moncton Hospital with my grandfather day and night in rotations, as we were fearful he was going to pass away. Fortunately he survived and is in a nursing home in Sackville. This “episode” put extreme stress and pressure on me during the exam period, staying awake all night with him while trying to study during the day. I dedicate my upcoming graduation to him, knowing how proud he will be of me, and my grandmother who passed away a few months before I started my first year of university.

It has been a very long journey, taking time off, starting university late and not even sure of what I was going to do with my life. But here I am, awaiting my graduation 9 years after high school but I can proudly say, I have accomplished something that many people do not have the opportunity to do. I have grown personally throughout my university years and learned many life lessons along the way. I hope that if a soon-to-be high school grad or even someone my age decides that they are interested in getting a post-secondary education, to do it! I would encourage you to stay enrolled continuously as you are guaranteed that you will receive the funding needed for school. I took years off in-between some of my schooling and now have a small loan to repay – not a considerable amount, but when you live on your own everything can add up quite quickly and no one wants to be in debt.

Being Aboriginals, we have the opportunity to rise above the stigmatization that we, as natives are forced to live with on a daily basis and achieve a degree with little to no debt. This can definitely not be said for everyone. You need to take advantage of what is in front of you and dream that dream or strive for that goal. It may take you awhile like it did me but I certainly will never regret having taken a post-secondary education. Although there may be struggles in pursuing a degree, keep your head up and realize that when it is finished you will be able to say you are a University graduate, be proud of it and pursue something beyond what you could have imagined.