© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
Christine Brun cuts the cake to celebrate their experience at CAN-U.
AMHERST – People sometimes lead lives that make them feel like a zero, but participants finishing their education at the Cumberland Adult Network for Upgrading often leave feeling like a hero.
Raelynn Prest is one of the students who felt like a hero upon completing the course yesterday at CAN-U.
“I had a lot of struggles and never really had too much positive stuff going on in my life, and I never thought I could do it,” said Prest. “I was tired of being a nothing and a nobody. I have a brain and I’ve got to start using it.”
Prest started the course Jan 18, 2012, and she thanked her instructor for her success.
“She was always pushing me, and when I wanted to give up she was always there,” said Prest. “If I can do it, anybody can do it. Here I am with some higher education and I’m further ahead than I thought I’d be.”
Her ultimate goal is to take the culinary arts program at the University of New Brunswick.
“I quickly learned I need my fractions to be able to do that,” she said with a laugh.
Another student finishing the program, Christine Brun, said the course changed her life as well.
“Before this all started I was in a really, really rough spot and I wasn’t even going to think about going back to school,” said Brun. “I quit six years ago, and I tried this, and I tried that. Tthis is the first time I finished a program in school.”
Tyler Allen thanked his classmates for his success.
“I was in a bad spot in my life as well and they brought a smile to my face everyday and helped me bring all this rambunctious energy out,” he said with a laugh.
Arnie Marks was a student in 2009 and 2010, and he now works as a casual housekeeper at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre. The 46-year-old was a guest speaker during yesterday’s ceremony.
“I was an educational cast-off, someone who failed to move through the system,” he said. “Education is so imperative and these programs here fill in the gaps and get you to the next level, where you need to be.”
Marks said he was a Grade-8 dropout and was timid about returning to school.
“When my trembling hand opened the door for the first time, it was hard to take the first step through the door. Once I got in, I was accepted even though I was the oldest in the class,” he said. “They accepted me as part of a team. We were all striving for the same things and pulled each other’s socks up.
“But they wouldn’t give it to you,” Marks added “It’s like the old saying, ‘I have a hand full of grapes, you can have as many as you want but I’m not feeding them to you.’”
Marks said CAN-U taught him how to think more clearly.
“There’s always issues and they taught me how to deal with every one of them,” he said. “Mr. Furlong taught me how to process things and think things through and use a thinking process that was to my benefit.”
They opened doors in his mind that helped him see the bigger picture.
“Just showing me how to do a good resume made a difference, and they also taught morals,” he said.
Marks said students brought inspirational saying into class to read to classmates.
“One that I brought in said, ‘I’d rather be a part of the solution than part of the problem.’”
Marks said he succeeded because of the effort he put in.
“You’re not going to get anything out of it if you put nothing in,” he said. “If you work hard you get good results and they work the hell out of you here.”