NSCC Accessibility Supports ignite a student’s potential

NSCC Accessibility Supports ignite a student’s potential

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | This is a guest post from Nova Scotia Community College
(Member since 1996) | Published: October 2, 2023

This is a guest post from Nova Scotia Community College
(Member since 1996)

Judy Lewis worked in commercial health food and long-term care support for years until burnout and health problems prompted a job change. Judy, who self-identifies as neuro-diverse, knew making the change would require retraining to develop new skills and overcome challenges associated with having learning barriers. After researching the best fit out there, she enrolled in the Paralegal Services program at NSCC Ivany Campus in the fall of 2019 (with the support of Teamwork Co-op), ready to start a new path for herself.

Her lived experience navigating complex and often confusing systems to access resources inspired her to take the program.

“I wanted to help people who faced similar barriers with these systems gain easier access to resources. When facing challenges you need support, and that can be difficult,” she says.

Lewis says she needed accommodations from the College to support her learning, with technology being the biggest challenge.

“My experience with computers growing up was making crafts from the computer cards my older brother brought home from university while studying Computer Science,” she says.

But with help from NSCC, Lewis overcame barriers and completed her studies, all while being supported by the kindness of NSCC staff and faculty. To support her learning, Judy took a reduced course load, met with learning strategists and counsellors, and worked with tutors — using the testing centre for a quiet space to complete her work.

"Stigma is one of the greatest barriers with mental health, but I did not experience any at the College,” she says. "There is something special about the culture of NSCC. It allowed me to just keep going and maintain the confidence to not second guess myself or feel like something was wrong with me."

Don Bureaux, President, NSCC, says the college works to remove barriers a student might face and prides itself in being a place where anyone can learn and succeed.

“We believe in our students and their potential, and Judy’s story is an example of the community support we embrace at the College for them to thrive,” he says.

The recipient of seven awards at NSCC, including financial assistance which supported her education, Lewis said it was ultimately the support of receiving the awards based on her career goals, values, and community involvement that were most rewarding.

"The validation was so encouraging," she says. "It helped me continue believing in my abilities to push forward and pursue my goals."

After graduating in spring 2023, Judy felt so inspired by the College’s wrap-around support — which she credits for helping her graduate — that she’s now motivated to help students like herself by creating the Recovery, Resilience, and Journey to Success Award in memory of her parents; celebrating their generosity and providing financial assistance to future NSCC students who have experienced trauma.

“It's our time in history to be helping each other, as I share my own gratitude to the College, my parents, and to all those who give back,” Lewis says.

With a goal of raising $30,000 to endow the award so it can be awarded yearly to an eligible student, Lewis, who also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from NSCAD, plans to organize a series of events, including an art show to sell her art and donate the proceeds. To support Judy in reaching her fundraising goals, online donations can be made to the NSCC Foundation at support.nscc.ca/recovery today.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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