Child and Youth Care grad finds a new kind of strength in being vulnerable
When Katirena Ganovicheff answered her phone to the news that that a space in the Child and Youth Care program had opened up at the last minute, she was more than 1,500 kilometres away visiting her sister in Portland, Oregon.
“I felt like I was dreaming,” says Katirena. “I packed my bags, got my ticket, hopped on a plane, arrived in Edmonton in the middle of the night, slept a couple of hours and was up at 5 a.m. to head to MacEwan.”
A few hours later, she found herself wondering exactly what she had gotten herself into. The first day of class involves an intense off-campus retreat where students dig into some tough topics—where they come from, why they believe the things they do and what they have to offer the world.
“I was exhausted, people were crying and all I really wanted to do was get some sleep,” says Katirena. “I had been at MacEwan in general studies for two years before that, and had never really been asked to talk about myself much. I’m also from a unique community where the types of things we were talking about at the retreat stayed behind closed doors. So I’ve always been a bit guarded, quiet and have kept to myself. That retreat really pushed me out of my shell.”
It wasn’t a push Katirena appreciated. “I thought it was ridiculous,” she says. “I had worked so hard to be a strong person—I didn’t like being asked to be vulnerable.”
As the hours passed, discomfort bubbled into a frustration and even a little bit of anger. But later on that same day things turned around.
“I realized that what I was going through myself was the same thing I was going to ask of children every single day in the future,” says Katirena. “Circumstances that we see as unfortunate from the outside are the same ones where these children are comfortable. We ask them to be vulnerable, so we have to be able to do that ourselves.”
“ Being that safe person for a child, giving a child a voice, advocating for them—those are the things I want to be doing in life.” KatIrEna Ganovicheff
The emotional, challenging start to the program was a preview of what was to come during the next two years.
“There were so many ups and downs, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t change anything,” says Katirena. “I came into this program thinking that I was going to save some lives and change the world, but I discovered that it doesn’t work like that. In this field, it’s about taking every opportunity you have to do things that matter over the course of a day. I know now that if I can even change a moment in a child’s life for the better, then it means I’m doing my job right.”
And focusing on those moments in a child’s life can be magical, says Katirena.
“Being that safe person for a child, giving a child a voice, advocating for them—those are the things I want to be doing in life,” says Katerina. “I understand now that this is difficult work, but I also know that there are so many rewards that come with it.”
MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the Class of 2017. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.
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