Last year was a big year for Danielle Campanella-Flicker when it came to new achievements.
During 2016, Danielle completed her GED (General Educational Development) test, giving her the equivalent education as Grade 12, started a college program and got her driver's license.
Danielle had been a stay-at-home mom since 2009, so it was a big change for the 34-year-old to go back to school.
"My No. 1 reason for returning to school is to get a job in order to help support our family, and to be an example to my children on the importance of education," she says. Her son Ethan is 14 and her daughters Erika, 12, and Emma, 7.
Danielle has been selected as a 2017 Education Champion by the Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by Fanshawe College in Simcoe.
The Simcoe resident left school during her final year, partly to take care of her mom who was very ill. Danielle tried to return to school, then she had her first child. Still wanting to finish Grade 12, she tried several times by taking correspondence courses.
Then came 2016, and she tried again.
The first step was visiting the Simcoe employment office, which referred her to Fanshawe College's Literacy and Basic Skills program, which developed an individualized work plan for Danielle. She upgraded her skills, spending extra time on communications skills and working with numbers.
That laid the foundation, and gave her the confidence, to take the GED test. She passed and that opened the door for her to apply to Fanshawe, enrolling in the Computerized Office Essentials certificate program last fall. Danielle will finish the course in April, with graduation to follow in October.
Danielle says she couldn't have succeeded without the help of so many people and organizations, as well as her family, who helped her juggle family, transportation and learning.
Her husband drove her to class until Danielle got her driver's licence last November – achieving another goal of hers – to achieve more independence and not having to rely on her family as much to get around.
"It's never too late - ever" to learn, Danielle says. "You have to believe in yourself and your abilities."
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance