Jerry Blue chose his first career path out of necessity. His second choice comes from the heart.
Blue, 52, had worked in the manufacturing industry for more than 20 years when he decided it was time for a change.
About 10 years ago while on a co-op placement, one of Jerry's daughters worked closely with a young man with Down syndrome, who later became a family friend.
Because of this connection and his passion for helping others, Jerry has chosen to pursue a career working with children with special needs.
The second youngest of 11 children, Jerry left school at 15 to start working. With that limited secondary education, he knew he would need to start with some studies to improve his English and math skills.
Jerry enrolled in the academic upgrading program at Mohawk College, a provincially-funded literacy and basic skills program that provides free education and training in preparation for post-secondary studies or employment.
After the upgrading, Jerry went on to complete his post-secondary education at Mohawk College. He and his daughter enrolled in the same two-year program and worked together to get their diplomas.
"Getting an education is a must," he said.
After graduating last April, Jerry is working as a teaching assistant at Pauline Johnson School, supporting students with special needs. He is also passionate about the Special Olympics and spends many volunteer hours coaching golf and floor hockey.
Story by Jaymie Nelson
Photo by Keepsake Photography