Tara, 31, grew up on Christian Island in Beausoleil First Nation. She worked there as a special needs resource teacher at the local daycare. Wanting to gain more skills for her job, Tara entered the Early Childhood Education program through the online campus at Algonquin College (AC Online) in 2022.
Today, Tara is a proud graduate who is working in her field.
As a mother of five with a full-time job, Tara faced plenty of obstacles on the path to graduation. Although the program was accessible online, she lived on the reserve, where she struggled to get good connectivity. Time management and technological limits stood as barriers to her goals.
Fortunately, Tara says the virtual facilitators at AC Online were “amazing.” She points out that they understood her background living on the reserve and helped her cope with the challenges of her circumstances. Balancing the demands of her job, her studies, and her hectic family life, AC Online offered her flexibility and support.
“I feel like the education on our reserve… it’s not where it should be,” Tara said in an interview with AC Online. She believes that many students get discouraged in high school. She particularly empathizes with Indigenous women, who may feel a certain pressure to remain at home, with their children.
For Tara, First Nations women such as herself should feel “empowered to complete their dreams.” In her view, at times, young mothers may experience pressure to sacrifice their studies to look after their children. However, Tara wanted to enhance her skills as a teacher both for herself and her children’s future. What’s more, her achievements may serve as inspiration for them, as well as others within her community. Her college journey helps lay the groundwork for the advancement of the next generation.
She said that she wants to show everyone in her community that through perseverance they can “push through anything.”
Algonquin College’s online campus is uniquely equipped to help working mothers who juggle numerous responsibilities. Though its coursework may be rigorous, it offers a network of support, from facilitators and classmates alike. With more than 80 full-time and part-time program options and over 800 courses, students can obtain a complete post-secondary education without scheduled in-person sessions or class times, while receiving the same quality staff assistance they would expect from a physical campus.
What’s more, Algonquin’s Mamidosewin Centre provides academic, career and personal support to its Indigenous students. Like every other Algonquin College student, AC Online students have access to on-campus amenities, including a smudging location.