If you walked into the Brantford medical office where Brigitte Evans works, you might notice her beaming with pride.
That pride comes from overcoming a lot of obstacles and setbacks to go back to school as an adult, graduating with honours, and finding a job she likes in a new career.
"Learning is the greatest experience in life! It stimulates the brain," Brigitte says. "I overcame many obstacles in my life. It made me even more determined to reach for my goals – and I did it."
Brigitte, now 55, was laid off in 2015 from her job as an activity director in a small retirement home. She saw the layoff as an opportunity and began to look at other options, turning to the Brant Employment Centre operated by St. Leonard's Community Services.
Staff at the Brant Employment Centre, one of several Employment Ontario centres in this area funded by the provincial government to help people looking for work, talked to Brigitte about her options. One option was to re-train for a new career, a career based on her interests and research into opportunities in the local job market.
Wanting to work in an office in health care, Brigitte enrolled in the Medical Office Administrator program at Medix College of Healthcare in Brantford, after receiving funding from Second Career, a government program that helps fund retraining for people laid off.
Brigitte started classes in September 2015, a few months after her husband Mike passed away. Last summer, while Brigitte was doing an internship as part of her course, her mother passed away. Each time, she picked up the pieces and carried on.
Her grown children, a son, 30, and daughter, 28, were there to encourage and support her.
"I loved learning and was amazed at myself on how well I did. I never once gave up even when it got tough. I know my husband and my mom would have been very proud."
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance