by Gloria Welton, The Employment Journey on PEI, November 2016 issue
In honour of the late Phyllis Pitre, former Chair of the Career Development Association of PEI Inc., a bursary has been established.
At the age of 48, on November 21, 2011, Phyllis passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. She lived in Charlottetown and was formerly of Tignish Shore.
The 2016 bursary was divided into three prizes of $500 each and distributed in September 2016. The award is for adult learners on PEI who are 30 years old or older who are working towards completing a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree. Applicants must demonstrate Phyllis’ values of leadership, public speaking, volunteering, and life-long learning.
The following is Shawnna Gaudet's story. Check out fellow winners Zahra Jahanmiri and Heather Watterson in separate posts.
From Adult Education to LPN: her dreams are coming true
Shawnna Gaudet from O’Leary started the adult education program at Holland College in 2013. She planned to earn the high school credits she needed to enter the Licensed Practical Nursing program at Holland College in Summerside. She is right on track with only a few months left before completing the two-year program.
“I love the idea of a LPN job because there is lots of action, it requires compassion, it is challenging, and involves a lot of pressure.
“I earned four high school credits in one year, and I encouraged my brother to complete his GED. We walked across the stage together to celebrate our achievements. Then I applied to the LPN program. The criteria to get into the program is very extensive, but I wanted to try anyways. I found out early on that I was accepted.”
Now in her second year, Shawnna says her schedule is heavier than she would like. “If I did it again, I would definitely wait to start working until after finishing the program because it is hard to work, got to school, and be a mom.”
She applied to the RCW government casual list to ensure that she could apply for work in her field as soon as she got her designation as an LPN. She did a RCW orientation that was six days over a span of three weeks and in college at the very same time. “My nine year old little girl needs me too, and it is challenging to give her my full attention with my hectic schedule.”
This past summer, she worked five days a week in the Summer Student Nursing program through Health PEI at Margaret Stewart Ellis Home long-term care facility. Then she faced a new challenge. “I just finished the third clinical rotation at QEH Rehab unit. For three days a week over five weeks I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to drive from O’Leary to Charlottetown. I am working a very hard schedule right now, but I can see the end in sight, with graduation and hopefully a job right around the corner.”
Career Development Services staff Dean Getson let her know about the bursary and he wrote a letter of reference for her. “I am doing the hard work for my daughter, my partner, and myself. I never win anything, so I was thrilled to be awarded the bursary. I couldn’t believe the wonderful things Dean said about me.”
She plans to use the bursary money to pay for the LPN national exam, which costs exactly $500. “Sometimes I wonder why I am putting myself in so much debt to get through school. But then I remember that it is an investment that will be worth it. I felt like giving up many times, but I would never do that – I just need to vent my frustrations. I look back at what I have been able to do, and that keeps me going.
“I want to make a difference. I want to do something for my family and my community, and I want to help people. I am so easy-going, and can adapt to many situations. I love the idea of working in palliative care or senior long-term care.
“Nurses are there when a baby is born and are there for people when they leave this world. It is a very special job. I love to hear peoples’ stories, encourage others, and be there for them.”
Shawnna has as a big heart as Phyllis did. Phyllis wanted to give back and had a huge concern for people. Education was also very important to her and she used many opportunities to build her skills.