Fifteen years of repetitive factory work took a toll on Tammy Titmuss and made her want to take on a new challenge.
The 41-year-old St. Williams resident accessed funds through Second Career to help her return to school. Even with the financial support, though, money was tight.
Her family was a tremendous source of support, often providing the nutritious meals she couldn't afford on her own.
"Going back to school with the young kids, it was hard to relate to peers in the program," said Tammy. "It was a struggle and there was a lot of frustration."
Help also came from Jennie Chanda, co-ordinator of the Personal Support Worker program at Fanshawe College's James N. Allan Campus, where Tammy decided to pursue her education.
She has learning difficulties and says Jennie took the time to explain lessons in a way that was clear to her. Tammy also used various techniques, including taking copious notes and tape recording lessons, to help her learn. And she never missed a day of school, even while dividing her time between caring for her seriously ill mother and her studies.
Being a hands-on learner, Tammy found bookwork a struggle. The placement component of the Personal Support Worker Certificate Program helped her connect her classroom studies with on-the-job situations.
"In my placement, I loved listening to the stories about what people have experienced in their lives."
At her recent graduation, Tammy's teachers and peers were inspired watching her walk across the stage, knowing how hard she worked to get there.
"Tammy was obviously goal-oriented," said Chanda. "She was the first arrive and the last to leave and she always had the most questions."
Story by Jaymie Nelson
Photo by Keepsake Photography