By Elizabeth Merchant
As a person who firmly believes that one should always be striving for personal growth, I share my “aiming for success” story, in the hopes that I can inspire other older adults to keep reaching for their educational goals.
What started me on my educational journey and the pursuit to better myself, was taking an assessment of where I am currently (in an unfulfilling job that just pays the bills) and where I could see myself in the future. Because I loved school and often desired to learn something new, I took classes here and there, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I started to consider what might click for me in terms of a career. Sometimes, it takes trial and error, or experimenting to figure out what to do with one’s life direction, and it took me a long time.
Then in 2015, something finally clicked; from the first class I took in the part-time Certificate Counselling Program at George Brown College, I was hooked. Fast forward to now and I have just completed the second last class of the program.
What led me to counselling/social work studies? My love of people, combined with my helping nature. I began exploring careers where I could be of assistance in some way, and where I could use my ability to instantly build rapport with others, while making a difference at the same time. I longed for meaningful work. But studying at a later time in life is not without its challenges. In between time for family and the full time job, there were many late nights of research for assignments and the race to finish by due dates. Of course, there were times that I didn’t feel like making it to class after a long day at work, but I pushed on because I knew what I needed to do. Fortunately, my family is supportive, especially my teen-aged kids; my son even urged me not to stop there, but to even strive for a Masters in Social work- Now that’s encouragement to aim high!
In addition, on top of an already busy schedule, I somehow even manage to squeeze time in for volunteering, which I absolutely love to do. As a Tutor and Mentor, I lent some time to both The Toronto Public Library Tutoring program and St. Alban’s Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and to further develop my skills, I recently joined the mentoring program with the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. I truly love the mentor/helper role. My work is worth it if I can shine a light of encouragement on someone’s doubts, or bring a smile to a face, young or old, and this is what I want to be able to do in my career. With my sights set on eventually earning the Social Service Worker Diploma through Seneca College, after completing the certificate program, I know I have quite a long road ahead of me, but with perseverance, continued belief in myself and the refusal to let age stop me, anything is possible.
Elizabeth, who strongly believes in the power of a positive mind-set, lives with her family and two cats in Toronto. When she is not in the classroom, her other interests are teaching herself French, watching documentaries, story-writing, and setting ambitious goals for herself. She is working on her first young adult novel.