Mike Hennessey – Bachelor of Business Administration
My name is Mike Hennessey and I am from Pabineau First Nation just outside of Bathurst, NB. I completed my Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of New Brunswick in December of 2009, officially graduating in May of 2010. I concentrated my studies in Human Resources, and also minored in History.
Over the last four and a half years, I’ve been through some ups and downs academically. When I first started out the Business Administration degree, the road seemed so long. Four years is a long time when you’re eighteen years old. I remember completing my exams in my first year, and thinking, “I really have to go through this for three more years?!” However, looking back I realize how fast the time went.
For the first two foundation years, I really struggled to find an area of focus for my studies. I was getting exposure to all areas of business and learning a wide range of subjects, but I could not decide what I really wanted to do with my life. However, that’s when I realized that I did not need to know all of the answers. The future is completely unknown, and what I needed to do was set a direction for my studies and career, not determine a destination. So, I elected to pursue Human Resources in my third year of study. This decision was undoubtedly the correct one for me. I found employment immediately following my graduation in the HR field of the Transportation industry, and have since moved on to be involved with business development in the First Nation communities of New Brunswick through the Joint Economic Development Initiative Inc. One thing I realized through the HR program at UNB is that you have to work with people, no matter what job or career you find yourself in. The more effective I could be working as a part of a team, the more I could accomplish personally, and professionally. The degree program really taught me that principle, and I still live by that principle in my workplace today.
If I could send a message out to all First Nations university or high school students interested in pursuing post-secondary education, it would be that: work as a team. In life, we can’t do everything on our own. You need a network of friends and peers who can help you through those tough times, when you feel like quitting or you feel like procrastinating. Friends that will motivate you to excel in whatever you choose to do. Many times family is a part of this network, but when you move off-reserve to attend school, family won’t always be there to support you, which means that you need to make good connections with your peers in class. Don’t befriend the party animals, the people that will pull you down. Connect with those who will drive you to succeed.
Have role models that you can look up to as well. Personally, I had role models in my family; my brother graduated from the Computer Science program at UNB the year before I enrolled, so he was a huge influence and motivator for me. My mother went back to university after she raised my brother and I, and achieved an Education degree from UNB in her late-40s. These were my role models. Every person has different circumstances and hurdles to get over, and having role models who have been able to overcome some of the same obstacles that you face is vital to your success.
One final piece of advice I would offer is this: NEVER QUIT. Learning is a lifelong activity. Never quit, no matter what obstacles stand in your way. You have the ability to overcome those obstacles if you set your mind to it. Never, ever quit. Never stop learning.