Rosa Barlow

Rosa shares her story leading up to her graduation… her story below.

My name is Rosa Barlow, I’m 34 years old and I’m from Indian Island First Nation. I’m married to a wonderful man, Neil Roberts and I have two brilliant daughters, Morgan, 9 yrs old and Georgia 5 years old. I work at Bonar Law Memorial High school as the First Nation Education Liaison for Indian Island and Buctouche communities. I’m enrolled in the First Nations Teachers Education Program through the University of New Brunswick. I’ve been on the Dean’s list throughout my studies and maintain a 3.7 grade point average. I’m currently completing the practicum requirement of my Bachelor of Education and I am working in a grade 2 class at the Rexton Elementary School, Rexton, NB.

The road I travelled from high school graduation to university graduation has been rocky and rough with lots of pit stops! I graduated from Bonar Law Memorial High in 1994 and enrolled in the University & College Entrance Preparatory Program in Eel Ground First Nation. I finished the year successfully and made many good friends in the process. From there I started my Bachelor of Arts at the University of New Brunswick. I completed the first year but ended up on academic probation and I ended up dropping out in the fall of 1998. The class sizes and university lifestyle proved to be too much for me to handle.

The following summer I started lobster fishing with my father Garfield Barlow. I worked with him and my brothers for almost a decade! I travelled up the Northumberland straight fishing snow crab and lobster and even fished out of Cheticamp, Cape Breton for a season. My hard work paid off and I was eventually given my own boat and lobster licence to operate. I fished my own license with my husband for a few years and really enjoyed it. The lifestyle and hard work became too much for me so I left my fishing business to look for a new career. I had always told myself that I would go back to university before I was 30 years old so when the opportunity came along for me to get my Bachelor of Education through distance education I jumped at the chance. I started my first courses two weeks before my 30th birthday in July 2006 and I haven’t stopped since! During my studies I worked full time as a Home and Community Care worker for two years and then as the Education Liaison for Indian Island and Buctouche from 2009 till now.

I have to say that my plate has been really full for the past 5 years! My husband worked out of town for over two years so I was essentially a single mother five days a week, working full time and taking university courses at night, on weekends and during the summer months. If it weren’t for the help and support of my parents, siblings and my community there is no way I could have succeeded. My parents would take my daughters at a moment’s notice so that I could attend classes and would keep them for weeks at a time while I took summer session courses in Fredericton. They even bought me a new washer when mine broke down so that I wouldn’t have to run around after work to do the family laundry. My Chief and Council gave me financial support and freedom within my job and allowed me to keep my position even though I had to take a week of time off here or there to get my required credit hours.

There were times when it all became too much to handle and I wanted to give up but my mother would always bring me back to reality. Her logic was that in 5 years I could study, work hard and get my degree or I could sit at home, do nothing and 5 years would have come and gone and I would still have no degree. Her logic always made sense, so here I am…34 years old…almost a University graduate! If you are contemplating going to University fresh out of high school or even as a mature student (I was both) I have to say that with success comes sacrifice and hard work. No one is going to just hand you a degree. That being said, it also has great rewards! You will provide a better life for you and your family, make many great friends and develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in yourself as a person. I think you should just go for it!