Bursary winner talks about life experiences that led to a perfect career choice As seen in the Employment Journey.
Laura Mills was one of three recipients of the 2021 Phyllis Pitre Bursary provided through the Career Development Association of PEI. Submitted photo
October 19, 2021 by Gloria Welton
November is Canada Career Month and the theme is, “It’s Possible!” There is no better way to start the celebration this month than to profile a Career Development Association of PEI bursary winner.
Did you know there are many Career Development Professionals across PEI who can help you make your career plans happen? These empathetic and trained professionals encourage and support job seekers/career planners across PEI to take steps toward a lasting and satisfying career. They meet with clients regularly and watch them move towards their “It’s possible.”
Laura Mills from O’Leary is taking steps towards her “It’s Possible.” She enrolled in the first Human Services program offered at the Holland College West Prince Campus in Alberton in 2020.
During the process of applying for the Phyllis Pitre Bursary, she learned much more about Phyllis, and felt they had many things in common.
Phyllis, who passed away at the age of 48, valued lifelong learning and made a tremendous impact on people in her personal life and those she worked with to encourage and support them as they made life decisions and planned their career.
Because of Laura’s amazing story and meeting all the criteria, the Career Development Association of PEI selection committee awarded her and two other recipients a $500 bursary.
In applying for the bursary, I learned that Phyllis loved gardening and photography. Those abilities are also my passions, but now I realize that I also share a desire to be in the helping profession, because it is certainly a big part of who I am.” Laura has a degree in fine arts with a major in photography, and she worked in gardening throughout her school years, but her career journey started to take another path after moving to PEI.
“I was born in Ontario, and after coming to the Island for over 17 years throughout my childhood and any chance I could get, I have now lived on PEI for six years and I see spending the rest of my life here. I love it here. I met my husband Sheldon on PEI, and after four years together we moved here. My parents moved here six months after I did.”
“As my parents were getting older, and since I am an only child, I wanted to learn about physical care. I worked with a person who needed support in her home. I helped her in areas such as feeding, lifting, and companionship, and I learned so much. Actually, she guided me to help her properly, and it was an amazing experience.”
When Laura’s father became sick and was palliative, she took care of him at home for three months before he passed away. Presently, Laura is a caregiver for her mother, something Laura considers an absolute honour to do. “Before dad’s passing, I had a conversation with him about the idea of going into a profession that helps and supports people. However, I didn’t quite know what that would look like.
“There was another experience I had in high school that now when I look back, I can see how important it was to who I am and my career path. I took a class to be a peer helper. The student I worked with had Down Syndrome. I was teaching her English and math. When I talked with her Educational Assistant (EA) to help me work with the student, I became aware of an EA position.
“I also did some social things with this student and set some goals to accomplish. I created a booklet to help her and it ended up being used for her the following year. Now that I am studying this field, I see how this experience was a great example of the work I will be getting into and my love for it.
“Until my experience with my parents, I never considered choosing Human Services as a career. It went full circle for me. I didn’t realize how my experiences overall would resonate in my life.
“The Human Services program was a perfect match for me. It is an excellent program, and I am surrounded by an amazing group of students and faculty.”
In the Human Services program, students develop the knowledge and skills to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities achieve their full potential. “I will be in the first class to graduate from the program in Alberton. Everyone in my class is so supportive of each other in our studies, so you can bet an amazing group will be graduating soon, ready to work in this field.
“I would not have been able to take the program if it was offered at a college location farther away, because I am a caregiver for my mother.
“I am so thankful to be in my chosen field. I have discovered so much joy and satisfaction in helping others to reach their goals and helping with their wants and needs and accomplishing their dreams. It is so important to be client centered and to have patience and empathy.”
She can’t say enough about the fantastic on-the-job learning placements she experienced throughout the program. She has been at West Prince Housing and Hope Centre Clubhouse, and her last placement will be in the school system. Before starting the program, Laura began working with Community Inclusions to get some experience and continues with that organization. “I learned so much there.
“I am so thankful for the bursary as I pursue a career choice that is a perfect match for me. I look forward to graduating and entering the profession that I was meant for.”
Read about the 2020 Phyllis Pitre Bursary award winnershere