Continuing my education helped me get a job that I enjoy. Now I can work and learn new things each day, and give back to the community that helped me on my way.” ~ Brenda Lavandier
Brenda struggled with math in high school. “I was convinced I would never be able to learn it, and that gave me such a feeling of desperation that I eventually just quit school altogether.” Becoming a mother motivated Brenda to return to learning. “When my children were born, I envisioned how great their lives could be, and that vision included them graduating from high school. But I realized that I couldn’t expect my children to finish high school when I hadn’t done it myself.”
The adult learning program restored Brenda’s faith in herself. “By improving my skills, I built my self-confidence, and that is without a doubt the most important thing I gained from adult learning. I went on to get my high school diploma, and then two university degrees. Today, I have a good job and a wonderful life ahead of me, all because I took that first step toward a better education: I returned to learning.”
Brenda Lavandier hails from Arichat, Nova Scotia. Born and raised in a little Acadian fishing community, she has many fond memories of her early childhood. Most of all, Brenda remembers how much she looked up to her teachers and how she would often imagine she was a teacher. This memory would later fade to the back of her mind, though it was never really forgotten completely.
Brenda left school at 16, married at 21, and soon started a family. Having children made her realize the importance of completing the education she had abandoned so many years ago. Brenda acquired her GED after attending ALP classes at the Richmond County Literacy Network and then went on to take a Culinary Arts program at NSCC Strait Area Campus in 1991. Soon thereafter, Brenda enrolled in the Cosmetology program at NSCC, and graduated in 1993.
Not satisfied with either career choice, Brenda enrolled at St. Francis Xavier University in the Bachelor of Arts program and chose English as her Major. She commuted every day to Antigonish from home in Arichat, a round trip of over 200 km. Upon graduation from St. F. X in 2006, Brenda completed her Bachelor of Education from Memorial University (Cape Breton University Cohort) in 2008.
Returning to her educational roots, Brenda became an ALP instructor for the Richmond County Literacy Network – the very venue from which she got her start. In 2012, Brenda moved from the area and now works as an ALP instructor with the Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County.
As a single parent, Brenda was able to support herself and her children as well as being a strong role model to her two young girls. Although it took Brenda many years to find her “niche” in life, she feels that it was well worth the challenges and barriers that she faced in order to arrive at what she believes is her destiny. As a person who has gone through the experience of leaving high school before graduation, Brenda has had to face many of the issues and difficulties that she sees her learners facing now. This is a circumstance that Brenda feels is an asset to her position of adult educator. As a result of her own past, Brenda has found that it is much easier to relate to her learners in some way or another because she is familiar with many of the issues that they may be facing. It is also important for her to be able to demonstrate from her own experience that it is never too late to do what you really want to in life, regardless of past mistakes, for mistakes can provide us great learning opportunities. Brenda has certainly been committed to lifelong learning and she continues to pass on this love of and commitment to learning.