A few years of life experience helped Jillian Wentzell discover that school wasn’t the waste of time she thought it was when she was a teenager.
The Simcoe resident left high school in Grade 10 and, by 17, was employed doing drywall and other construction work.
She moved around the country a bit and became mother to a daughter, who is now five.
Back in Ontario, Jillian realized she would have to upgrade if she wanted to land a decent job.
“Even to work at grocery stores here you have to have your Grade 12. When I’d apply, I think they’d just put my resume aside.”
Through Ontario Works, Jillian was referred to career and employment services at Fanshawe College and then to an academic upgrading program, which she did for six months.
Last May she began working toward her High School Equivalency Certificate, taking classes at the employment centre in Simcoe. She reached her goal by September.
“This is a huge achievement in a short time as Jillian started with having earned less than 10 high school credits,” said Tracey McIntyre of Fanshawe College who nominated Jillian as an Education WORKS Champion.
“I really wanted it,” Jillian said. “So I worked really hard.”
Since she doesn’t drive, Jillian said one of her biggest challenges was transportation. She rode her bike the 3.5 kilometres to school, racing home after class so she could pick up her daughter at the bus stop.
Now 25, she is looking for work and has plans to return to the classroom next January in the personal support worker program at Fanshawe. She hopes to secure Second Career funding for a January 2016 start.
“Jillian was a young mom at 18 but didn’t let her daughter’s birth slow down her goals,” said Tracey. “Instead she used it as motivation to persevere and succeed. She has determined that the value of education is worth the cost and sacrifice. All paths led to her future goals. Her story has just begun.”
Photo by Brian Thompson, Brantford Expositor