Early Childhood Education is pretty much the domain of women.
Only about 2% of those working in the field are male.
If you had told Glen Pacey 10 years ago if he would one of the men taking the nontraditional path into childcare, he would have been dubious, to say the least.
"I had no children," said the 30-year-old Brantford resident. "I didn't even know the childcare world existed."
After graduating from Pauline Johnson Collegiate in Brantford, Glen had been working in a steel factory for about six years when repetitive stress syndrome forced him to leave.
A short story writer in his spare time, Glen took the opportunity to move to a new city with the intent of writing a novel.
Those plans were derailed by a car accident that left him with serious injuries and a feeling that writing "now seemed pretty meaningless."
Once recuperated, Glen began looking for work, seeking out help from from St. Leonard's Community Services Brant Employment Centre, which connected him with the Second Career program.
Second Career is an Ontario government program that helps get laid off employees go back to school and get back to work by paying for tuition and other expenses.
"Glen expressed an interest in psychology and children and concluded that ECE was a career path he'd like to pursue," said Hazel Pollock of St. Leonard's who nominated Glen as an Education WORKS Champion. "Glen said he wanted to contribute to the local community and work in an area at would allow him to feel fulfilled."
Glen enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Diploma program at Mohawk College in 2013.
While working through the two-year program he faced severe financial stress, reluctantly using the food bank.
"Often he did without," said Hazel.
The Brant Employment Centre helped Glen work through financial and transportation issues, after the Mohawk's Brantford campus closed and he was forced to travel to the main campus in Hamilton.
Glen was just one of two men enrolled in the ECE program.
"I didn't really know anything about kids but when I got into the placements (at daycare centres) it felt natural. I feel a bit like a pioneer."
The reason why men don't consider ECE as a career choice could be what some may consider a low salary for a potential "main breadwinner," with pay ranging from as low as minimum wage to up to $30 an hour, depending on experience and employer.
Despite that, Glen said he enjoyed the program, earning a 93% grade average.
"I liked the structure. I liked that it gave me a clear-cut goal. I came out with honours."
Glen has further plans to continue his education at Laurier Brantford, but hasn't yet decided which field of psychology he'd like to pursue.