On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated with her Dogwood Diploma at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, who received business administration diploma at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated with her Dogwood Diploma at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, who received business administration diploma at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Mother in her fifties finishes high school, graduates with daughter

Recent graduate encourages other adults to get Dogwood Diploma using Adult Upgrading Grant

Grade 12 graduates can be 17, 18 or even 55 years of age.

On Wednesday, June 6, Lisa Stewart graduated at the same time as her daughter, Colissa St. Louis, at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert.

“I was in the fishing industry for a lot of years and when I tried looking for work I couldn’t help but notice that with everything you needed a Grade 12 diploma for this and that,” Stewart said, while sitting next to her daughter in cap and gown.

Before upgrading as an adult, Stewart had a Grade 8 education. As a young girl, her grandfather told her he was proud of her for getting a job at one of the fishing plants, but she remembers him telling her: “‘There’s going to come a time when you’re going to need Grade 12 to pick up garbage in the city,’ and he was absolutely right,” she said.

She tried to go back to school many times, but it was math that scared her. She would quit, walk away, try again, and repeat. It wasn’t until she was in her fifties that she clicked with the instructors at Northwest Community College. She attributes her success to her math teacher, Trudy Dolan, who, she said, adapted to her style of learning.

“She taught me to find different ways of explaining things in a way that she would understand. I’ve got to have a bunch of tricks in my pocket to explain math concepts,” Dolan said.

“It was a struggle at times just trying to convince her that she can do it and you have to put the time into it. Putting that regular time in at home. Toward the end it clicked.”

Since Stewart completed her Grade 12 English before math, she was able to tap into first year university courses, such as psychology and First Nations studies.

Upgrading her education took her four years, but with the bonus of taking university level credit courses. She now has 12 credits toward an associative arts degree. So what’s next for Stewart?

“I can’t believe I want more. For somebody who kept taking off and not wanting to go there, and now it’s like, role model right here [to her daughter] and it’s crazy that she’s like a role model to me,” she said with a big smile.

Her daughter, St. Louis, just completed her business administration diploma, and plans to continue her education by going for her human resource and labour relations degree, all while raising her young son and working at the grain terminal.

“I’ll do that part-time even if it takes me five years,” St. Louis said.

While convocation was a big day for St. Louis, she said she’s more excited for her mom.

The adult Dogwood Diploma is offered at the Northwest Community College for anyone who needs to upgrade their education. Students need to have a Grade 12 level English, Grade 11 math and three Grade 12 equivalent electives to graduate.

READ MORE: NDP eliminate tuition for adult education, will end interest on student loans

Courses are paid for by the provincial government.

“K-12 education is free, it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult,” said Mercedes de la Nuez, career college preparation coordinator at Northwest Community College.

Mature students can apply for the adult upgrading grant (AUG), and depending on their income, or how many dependents they have, they’re eligible for more funding that can go toward books, bus passes, even school supplies.

Stewart was sponsored by her band, Gingolx, and she was part of the AUG program. She encourages anyone who hasn’t graduated to go back to school to get their adult Dogwood for free.

Advisors are around all summer at the college to help students who want to upgrade their education in the fall and winter months.

READ MORE: Northwest Community College decides on a new name



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Northwest Community College

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snowboarders at Revelstoke Mountain Resort heading for the gondola. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Another 16 COVID-19 cases for Revelstoke

The cases were identified between Jan. 3 and 9

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A performance by Alex Cuba will be streaming live on Arts Revelstoke platforms on Feb. 12, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Fasano, submitted by Arts Revelstoke)
Arts Revelstoke hosting virtual performances and movies this season

REVY. Live and Movies in the Mountains is returning

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Shrubbery peeking through snow in downtown Revelstoke on Jan. 14. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
95% less snow in Revelstoke this winter compared to last year

However, there’s plenty of snow in the alpine

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Most Read