NORTEP graduates final class
- Linda Mikolayenko | May 15, 2017
After four decades of providing unique learning opportunities for northern students, and a turbulent year of uncertainty, the last graduation for the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) and the Northern Professional Access College (NORPAC) was held on April 29, 2017 in La Ronge.
Daleney Clarke describes the theme for the decorations at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre as “Mardi Gras, and like, the last hurrah.”
“I was pretty emotional,” admits Daleney.
On the one hand, there was the sense of accomplishment. Four years ago, she, along with her two sisters, Desiree Clarke and Loni McCuaig, moved from Buffalo Narrows to La Ronge with some trepidation. Soon, all three will receive their Bachelor of Education degrees.
At the same time, she could not help but feel sad for the staff who were very helpful to her throughout her studies.
“It’s what kind of broke my heart about everything, knowing that they have nothing to look forward to in the fall time,” she said.
Desiree, in her valedictory address on behalf of Education grads, also reflected the bittersweet nature of the occasion.
“We never thought this day would come,” she said, but added, “now that it’s here, I’m sorry it is, because it means leaving friends who inspired me, instructors who are mentors, and so many people who have shaped my life, and my fellow classmates’ lives, forever.”
The students recognized at NORTEP-NORPAC’S final celebration were those who have met, or are close to completing, degree requirements for convocation from either the University of Saskatchewan or the University of Regina. One student, Janine Hansen of Beauval, received a certificate for both a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts. Nine other students were recognized as Bachelor of Education grads, and seven others for a Bachelor of Arts. In addition, the ceremonies acknowledged five students who completed the first year of pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy and pre-nutrition studies in Arts.
Mikaela Greuel was the Arts valedictorian. She said that the uncertainty of the future of students’ education made focusing on their studies more difficult than it should have been.
“But because we were still able to complete the year through all the protests, disappointments, and frustrations, I really believe that we will be able to handle anything thrown our way in the future,” said Mikaela.
Graduation means many changes. For Daleney, it means looking for a job, and a new place to live for herself and her two children. Before the provincial government decided to transfer the funding from the educational institution, she had planned to stay in the NORTEP apartments and return for another year of studies to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree. Although Northlands College plans to offer a university program in the fall, she would have preferred the continuity that would have come with maintaining the same faculty.
“We were a family, and they just kind of broke us up,” she said.
Loni, too, must find a new home for her family by the end of June. A member of the Birch Narrows Dene Nation, she is hopeful that she will be able to pursue her additional degree in Arts at Northlands. In addition to teaching, she says this will open the door to opportunities in administration in the future.
“I have a voice,” she said, “and I want to make a difference.”