Dawn Campbell was inspired to go back to school by the students around her in her daily life. Now, she can inspire them.
The Brantford resident initially left secondary school after Grade 11, after meeting her future husband. Twenty-five years later, Dawn was a single mother, raising two teenage daughters and working two jobs, including one as the head of the cafeteria at North Park Collegiate in Brantford.
Working in a high school, Dawn found it hard to tell students they should stay in school, when she hadn’t. As her oldest daughter was getting ready to graduate from high school and her younger daughter from elementary school, Dawn decided it was time to go back to finish her education.
She attended adult education courses at Grand Erie Learning Alternatives, completing four credits to finish her secondary school diploma. It was hard work, as Dawn maintained two jobs, working 80 hours a week, while also being home for her daughters and doing homework and housework, all the while trying to stay positive.
Dawn had a lot of support from teachers at North Park, and her family.
“My daughters were a big help,” Dawn said. They helped her learn to use the computer, and taught her how to research things. “I think they really liked the part where they could say, ‘Mom, go do your homework.’”
Dawn is not sure what her next steps are, but she prefers a job where she can help other people. And she knows she will use her experience to inspire students at North Park. Dawn was able to join those North Park students as she walked across the stage at the Sanderson Centre to receive her diploma.
“I can help show students that it’s important to finish their high school. They don’t want to be working two jobs,” she said. “I should have done it originally and I would have had a better career.”
Story and photo by Rob Rombouts