Holly Kolosowski put her "life on pause" while she raised two young boys, but is now moving forward after upgrading her education and starting a new career.
Holly waited until her boys, Curtis and Alex, were in school full time before she decided to go back to school herself, with the goal of creating a better life for herself and them.
"When they were 5 and 7 I decided that the timing was right and it was time for me to get my education and employment future on track.," she said. "My No. 1 reason was to have a brighter future for myself and my two little boys."
Holly has been selected as a 2017 Education Champion by Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by Fanshawe College in Simcoe.
Holly, now 27, had quit high school before finishing, then had her first boy and moved back home with her parents. Like many single parents, she relied on Ontario Works to support her young family but looked ahead to take steps to become self-reliant.
When she turned 25, Holly picked up the phone and called Fanshawe College at the Simcoe/Norfolk Regional Campus and asked about the steps she needed to take to get her GED (General Educational Development), which offers adults a chance to get the equivalency of their Grade 12 diploma.
She took her GED test in June 2015, just days after her father passed away. Instead of rescheduling the test, Holly forged ahead, wanting to keep a promise to herself and her dad.
Holly received help from Fanshawe College's Literacy and Basic Skills program to prepare for the GED test, and later received a bursary from the school to help pay the costs for her Esthetics Certificate program. Ontario Works also helped with some of the costs of her courses.
The Jarvis resident is thankful for the support she received from Ontario Works, Fanshawe College and her mother. Her mom often watched her sons while Holly attended school or did homework, and also lent her car.
Holly graduated last October and is now working full time as an esthetician at Aqua Nails in Port Dover.
"When I look back over the last two years, I realize how many people have been involved in my self-development and how many programs have assisted me along the way," she said.
"I am so glad that I took the step to make the first call and start the ball rolling. I am now a college graduate and have my Grade 12 equivalency, and work full time."
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance