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Accessibility to education key to success

December 12, 2014
By: 
Raina Delisle
"Making flexible admission possible communicates an image of a student as capable."

Cindy Page had ample education and experience when she applied for the MA in Learning and Technology (MALAT), but no formal degree. She credits Royal Roads’ flexible admission policy for allowing her to take her career to the next level. Today, she’s helping other students do the same as program chair and an instructor in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and Education Assistant (EA) programs at Northern Lights College (NLC).

“It was so important for me that there was a flexible approach to enrolment,” says Page, who completed her RRU degree in 2009. “Not having a degree didn’t have to be a barrier to me getting additional education. In the end, I did really well in the program. Making flexible admission possible communicates an image of a student as capable.”

It’s the same in NLC’s programs: “We’re very rarely about what can’t be done,” she says. “Trust people to be capable. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about children, young students or adult learners.”

After completing her Certificate in Early Childhood Education from NLC, a diploma in Child and Youth Care at Vancouver Island University and courses in the degree program, she knew she wanted to teach. She remembers telling one of her instructors that she wanted to do her job one day. Page continued working in the area of child care resource and referral and licensing and in 2002, she got a call from that instructor inviting her to apply for a sessional teaching position. Page was successful and has been with NLC ever since, teaching full-time since 2005 and becoming chair 2.5 years ago. After a few years of teaching, Page felt the need to upgrade her education, which brought her to Royal Roads.

“It was life changing,” she says of her RRU experience. “For me, it was definitely the right program at the right time. It gave me a great deal of confidence in doing what I was doing and understanding the ‘why’ beneath it. It really pulled the pieces together. For me, I had a lot of learning, but it was fragmented. I needed something to pull it all together. The MALAT program was that.”

Page says her Royal Roads experience helped her better understand online learning, which was essential for her work at NLC, where the ECEC and EA programs are taught by distributed learning, online and teleconferencing.

“It’s a fully online, integrated experience, similar to Royal Roads,” says Page. “There’s little we can’t do online that can be done in a classroom. We have to come at it from a different angle, but we can have that classroom experience and we can develop relationships.”

Those students include people like Page, who found themselves at a career crossroad and unable to pursue full-time, in-person studies due to life circumstances.

“We reach an audience where face to face doesn’t always work,” says Page, who has welcomed students from ages 17 to early-60s into the ECEC and EA programs. “We’re trying to create pathways for people who learn differently who see themselves continuing education.”