More Student Success

Student Success Stories

Strike That Arc!

Tiffany – Tiffany Sherri Caldwell

Smile and strike that arc! I am a welder apprentice registered with Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, and at age 17, I passed the Canadian Welding Bureau test for the flat welding process. My mom forced me to take a welding course in Grade 10. As usual, it turned out she knew best: the day I struck my first arc, I was hooked. A welder needs to know mathematical problem solving – not my best area, until Terry Laliberté taught me, at Saugeen District Secondary School in Port Elgin.

My first project, a garden arbour that stands almost two and a half metres tall, was a great accomplishment. The second was a garden bench in a butterfly shape that I designed. In my last year of welding, I was even more creative, designing and welding my own graduation rose bouquet. I welded a corsage for myself and a boutonnière for my senior prom date. I wasn't one of the most popular girls in school and spent my days in the welding shop. Imagine my surprise when I was crowned prom queen 2010 in July! A certified welder becomes prom queen!

In Grade 9 I had a 63 percent average, but with my parents' encouragement I finished Grade 12 with a 97 percent average! I received the Excellence in Manufacturing award in June 2009 and the NAPA Automotive award in June 2010. In my second semester of Grade 12, I was accepted into a co-op placement at Bruce Power in the Central Maintenance Facility shop. This was an awesome experience. I worked four 10-hour shifts with other tradespeople. They were great, showing me their tricks of the trade. I was able to improve my welding to successfully earn my welder certification. I have six Canadian Welding Bureau tickets in flux core arc welding and shielded metal arc welding.

TiffanyOn the farm where I live with my parents, there are always repairs to be done, so I weld often. My dad and I share a passion for old trucks. We are currently restoring a 1950 L-110 International pickup and a 1949 Ford pickup. Mom stimulates my artistic side by giving me ideas for welding projects. I made her a lily from an old barbecue and a calla lily from scrap.

Here is my advice to you: You will always miss 100 percent of the arcs you do not strike, so grab that stinger, flip the helmet, and strike that arc! Let those sparks of success fly!

Tiffany Sherri Caldwell

Let Aaron Prove It to You!

Aaron – Aaron

Have you ever thought, “Maybe I can do that … let me try! Now I know I can do that … so what else can I try?” These are definitely the thoughts of Aaron Prevost, a visually impaired student participating in the Work Experience Program at W. Ross Macdonald School for the Visually Impaired and Deafblind in Brantford, Ontario.

“I'm blind, but I can do it!” says Aaron. “I like to work with my hands. It makes me mad when people say that I can't do something. I just want the chance to try and maybe prove to them that I can. When it comes to work placements, I need an employer who can teach me new things and look beyond my lack of vision, someone who is willing to think outside of the box and consider more than just traditional ways of completing the task at hand.”

Aaron has found exactly this type of employer at both of his placement work sites this year. Tracey Langley, of the Habitat for Humanity Brant ReStore, says, “I watch him do things that people with no disability avoid doing because it's ‘too hard' or ‘too boring.' Aaron outperforms many of our sighted students. He is never still, always wanting more – more tasks, more responsibility, more knowledge.”

When there is not much to do, “I go and find something, like equipment that I have never used before, and try to understand how it functions,” says Aaron.

Don Chambers, who works at Aaron's other placement site, Northgate RentALL, says that Aaron “is eager to learn and will try anything. His dry humour and wit keeps everyone on their toes. Aaron works as if he has no impairment whatsoever.”

“I can repair small engines and objects around the house,” reports Aaron. “I've even worked on the car. I was given a chance to job shadow in a garage for a day last year, and it was a great experience. I learned a lot more about cars, and I can successfully do an oil change now! It was a positive experience that made me want to pursue this type of work. The Work Experience Program will help me make connections for the future, obtain some good work experience to put on my résumé, and give me an opportunity to try out some new things. When future employers ask me if I have certain skills, I might be able to say that I have had some related experiences.”

Aaron knows that because he is blind he will have to advocate for himself and let people know what he can do. “I'm going to have to find an employer, like those I have had at my placements this year, who is willing to take the chance and let me demonstrate what I can do!”

“With Aaron's sense of humour, enthusiasm, and determination,” says Tracey, “he will prove that he can do anything, because if you let him he will show you what he is truly capable of doing.”

Shelley Conliffe, Work Experience Program teacher, W. Ross Macdonald School for the Visually Impaired and Deafblind

Sara's Plan

Sara – Sara Watson

I've been attending the Centre for Individual Studies (CIS), Northumberland campus, since January 2008. I was 16 when I enrolled, and I believe it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Before I came to this alternative education centre, I was wasting my time skipping school with friends who seemed to be going nowhere with their lives.

I decided to come to CIS so I could improve my life and achieve the things I really wanted for myself. When I came here halfway through my Grade 11 year, I had obtained only 9 credits. The amazing staff at CIS have helped me obtain 14 more in my time here.

In May 2010, I found out I was seven weeks pregnant. I knew the father wouldn't be around to help me, but thankfully I have plenty of support from family and from my school. I was worried at first that having a baby would interfere with graduating this year, but with the help of my teachers, I've figured out a plan that will allow me to complete my last seven credits by the end of this school year (2010/11).

Right now, I am completing in-school credits and a plumbing dual credit course at Fleming College. After the baby is born in December, I will complete the rest of my credits at CIS as a part-time student. I plan to attend college in the fall to study nursing. I don't think any of this would have been possible without all the support the CIS staff have given me, and I am very appreciative of everything they've done for me.

Sara Watson

Spotlight on Digital Art and Design

Quinton – Quinton

Four high school students are studying digital art and design at George Brown College's School of Design this semester with Professor Jim Kinney, as part of the Dual Credit Program. Quinton, from Nelson A. Boylen Collegiate Institute in Toronto, talks about the course:

“I took digital art and design as dual credit course at George Brown because I thought it would be a great introduction to college for me. Also, I was very interested in the digital field prior going to George Brown, so capitalizing on the opportunity to become a better graphic designer made sense.

I love every part of this course – everything from the freedom we are granted to learning different useful formats and techniques. The course is really helping me to grow and achieve my goal, which is to become a better graphic designer. Among other things, I learned how to present a finished graphic work or logo in various layout formats and how to transfer the images without losing quality.

I hope to have a career as a graphic designer working for a big corporation, or to have my own business. But first I need to develop the right fundamental skills, which I'm being taught in this course. Taking a college course has increased the likelihood that I will apply to college for next year. I was apprehensive at first and didn't think I was ready, but because of my dual credit experience, I know that if I need help, I can get it from the professor, who works hard to ensure that students succeed. For example, Professor Kinney gives online videos and encourages students to e-mail him if they need help or to post their question on the website for the course.”

Professor Kinney is a strong supporter of the Dual Credit Program. “My work with the dual credit students has been immensely rewarding,” he says. “It is a worthwhile initiative that helps to demystify and make concrete the exciting possibilities that abound in a postsecondary environment. The experience has certainly made postsecondary education a high priority in the minds of my dual credit students.”

Dream the Improbable

Brendan – Brendan Tanner Murray

Chef Mario Scozzafava of Saint Michael Catholic High School in Niagara Falls was an inspiration for student Brendan Tanner Murray. Through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, he participated in cooking classes, completed the SHSM program, and was registered with the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) as an apprentice cook. He received the Aramark Food Services Bursary when he graduated.

Brendan registered with in 2008 and received assistance with developing his résumé and interview skills, and applying for an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant. He continued his apprenticeship with NPC under the direction of executive chef Paul Pennock. As a result of his work ethic and community volunteer work, Brendan received a scholarship and was named Apprentice of the Year in 2009.

He successfully completed both levels of the in-school portion at Niagara College Culinary Institute. In the spring of 2010, he submitted an essay in response to a website posting for a culinary scholarship/internship in Europe, offered by the Toronto chapter of La Chaine des Rotisseurs, a fine-dining association. Chef Sam Seaver nominated Brendan's essay, which was submitted for consideration.

The next step was for Brendan to face an interview panel composed of executive chefs from the York Club, the Royal York Hotel and the Toronto Golf Club. He was selected and has had the privilege of interning at Mosimann, in the heart of Belgravia in London, England. Mosimann's Club is one of the most prestigious private dining clubs in the world.

Brendan has this advice for high school students: “Dream the improbable and then make it a reality.”

Source: Ontario Prospects 2011