Nothing valuable comes without a cost, and a post-secondary education is no exception. Tuition is not the only expense associated with school – students need to budget for textbooks, course supplies, technology, transportation, a place to live, and more. For some, these costs can be a major distraction, and oftentimes student loans are not enough to cover the real cost of attending college – especially for students who must leave home to pursue their education.
Sandra Moore understands these challenges better than most. Moore, who attended Medicine Hat College in the 1990s to complete her GED, shared her inspiring story at the college’s annual Pathways Gala held in June and proved that where you start is not where you have to finish.
Pregnant at 17 years of age and unemployed, Moore vowed to make a change to improve her life and the life of her unborn child. While it wasn’t easy, she finished her high school diploma, began academic upgrading at MHC, and pulled herself out of poverty. Accessing financial support through the college at that time was critical to her ability to create a better life.
“When I was a young single mom, living in a tiny trailer, just laid off from my sweet job as a chamber maid, I never saw myself where I am today,” says Moore, now an independent research and development professional, PhD candidate, and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar Award recipient.
To help students like Moore, Medicine Hat College created the Pathways Student Life Enhancement Fund. This fund supports students who have financial barriers that may prevent them from completing their education. From childcare to transportation, textbooks to tuition; the Pathways Fund is available to support students from the time of application to graduation. And unlike many scholarships and bursaries, there is no specific criteria to apply.
“We encounter students all the time who have challenges to overcome. They may not have a support system to turn to, or may attend school as a mature student with kids to care for and a mortgage to pay,” says MHC president and CEO Denise Henning, who can identify with these struggles as she herself returned to school as a single mother.
The need for emergency student funding is rising at an alarming rate. Students who are dedicated to their education can struggle to make ends meet, particularly when life takes an unexpected turn. A single sudden event, such as losing a family member, a job, or dealing with health concerns, can leave a student facing the grim decision to quit college.
A recent increase in non-traditional students attending college highlights a host of students in vulnerable situations: unemployed adults retraining after lengthy careers, single mothers trying to do more for their families, new Canadians determined to build a better life. Pre-existing and ongoing financial obligations don’t stop just because someone decides to go to school.
The $20,000 raised at this year’s gala was given a boost from matching funds, bringing the total to $40,000.
Donations can be made online at www.mhc.ab.ca/pathways or by calling Jenna Williams, community relations officer, at 403.502.8995.
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