Sheyrl Racette's career path has taken her from work in a residential group home to a welder's station.
Now she's enrolled in a law clerk program at Trios College in Hamilton.
The 45-year-old is determined to keep trying "until something works."
After dropping out of school at an early age and having her second child at 24, Sheyrl said she realized the importance of education to her commitment to caring for her young family and creating a better life for them.
With just a Grade 8 education, she returned to the classroom to earn her high school diploma. And she hasn't stopped learning since.
Backed by her GED, Sheyrl completed a two-year degree in mental health and substance abuse, graduating with honours. With a goal of helping at-risk youth, she applied to Wilfrid Laurier University's Contemporary Studies program, with a double major in psychology and philosophy and a minor in criminology.
Sheyrl took a job working with youth at a residential home in Dundas for eight years. While the job wasn't lucrative, she says she loved "her kids," many of whom came from abusive homes.
She showed the same compassion in her own neighbourhood, often handing out warm clothing to kids who weren't dressed for the weather or offering them food.
But, in a sluggish economy, Sheyrl was forced to look for new work. She became licensed in welding, heavy equipment operating and earned her AZ license. She took a welding job but migraines brought on by the work forced her to quit.
Becoming a law clerk is her new focus.
"My mom led by example and still does," said Sheyrl's son, Joshua, 19. "I don't know if she will ever stop wanting to learn."
Story by Jaymie Nelson
Photo submitted by Sheryl Racette