One student’s winding road to the school with the towers and the big clock

September 7, 2018 | Campus Life

I was about seven years old the first time I saw the towers. We usually walked down Jasper Avenue when we came downtown for doctor’s appointments or to visit social services, but that day we took a different route because my mom was treating us to lunch at Denny’s.

I remember seeing the clock tower, asking my mom what that place was and her telling me that it was a school. When I asked if I could go there she laughed and said, “Not right away,” but I remember thinking that I was going to go to that school one day.

The magical feeling I had that day went away for a long time. Things didn’t go well for me in school. We moved around a lot – we were never in one place very long – and I spent a year in foster care, then two years in and out of a group home. I eventually dropped out of school. Years later, I was close to finishing my high school classes when my counsellors asked me what I wanted to do next. I thought back to that moment when I was a kid – I had always wanted to go to that school with the towers and the big clock. So I looked at the programs at MacEwan.

Some people have that one teacher who was really awesome and makes them want to teach. Some kids see a fire truck screaming down the road and want to fight fires. For me, studying Child and Youth Care is about Darlene and Vince, two workers at the group home. Back then, I was rebellious – you couldn't tell me to tie my shoes without me telling you where to go – but instead of scolding me, Darlene and Vince tried to be my friends. They didn’t tell me what to do or how to be. They asked questions about how I was feeling and what I was going to do about the hassles I was having at school. They showed me what an adult could be during a time when I felt like adults were the enemy.

In my first year at MacEwan, I learned the name for what Vince and Darlene did – it’s called using a relational approach. Looking at the world that way has opened my eyes and my heart. I used to deal in absolutes. Everything was black and white to me, but now I’m more empathetic. I’m reaching out and asking people about their stories instead of judging them by what I see on the surface. It’s the best way to reach people.

Darlene passed away a few years after I left the group home, and I wasn’t able to keep tabs on Vince. I would have liked to. It would have been nice to to tell them that they’re the reason I’m here today.

– Trevor, 2nd year, Bachelor of Child and Youth Care 

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