This is what it's all about
Two UCEP students get accepted to university and college

Paula White
Northern News Services

INUVIK (July 02/99) - There was only one thing standing in James Sydney's way of getting a university education -- his high school grades.

So what did the 26-year-old do? He enrolled in the university and college entrance preparation program at Aurora College in Inuvik.

That was a year ago. Sydney will be attending a university in British Columbia this fall, in the bachelor of arts program.

"(I'm) nervous, very nervous," Sydney laughed, "but looking forward to it."

Every year, there are anywhere from 50 to 60 students enrolled in the academic studies program at Aurora College, either in the UCEP program or adult basic education. All the students have one goal -- to raise their level of education. When they achieve that goal, it makes Robert Goulet, one of the instructors, incredibly proud. He said whether the students go on to take post-secondary training, whether they raise their level of education by just one year or whether they simply attend every day, these are all major accomplishments.

"Some come and are happy because they can go home and start helping their children with their school work," he said.

Another student, Derek Morfitt, also finished the UCEP program this year. Prior to that, he spent three years in the adult basic education program. In the fall, Morfitt is heading to Edmonton where he will take broadcast journalism at Grant MacEwan College.

"We've made it known they've been successful in reaching their goals," said Goulet. He added many people don't realize they are only one or two courses away from getting into university. This turned out to be the case for Sydney.

"James really, when it really comes down to it, he only needed two courses to get entrance in (university)," Goulet said. "Academic studies can bridge the gap where they left off. Academic studies is the springboard to prepare oneself for a career. Without academic studies, there's no other route. That's why it's an important program."

Sydney was born in Inuvik, but raised in Edmonton. A few years ago, he returned to Inuvik and decided to make it his home for a while. Then, last year, he became "bored of doing odd jobs," and inquired about the UCEP program. He enrolled in the course right away, and didn't look back.

"I think it's excellent," he said. "The people at the college are certainly supportive. I'm disappointed that a lot of students didn't take advantage of the support offered by the college.... There's support here. People just have to ask."

Currently, Sydney is a production assistant at Gwich'in Graphics. He has been there just over a week, but said the owner, Rob Cook, has already offered him a job every summer until he's finished school. He will also spend a couple of weeks this summer working for the Geological Survey of Canada. Sydney credits the UCEP program for his landing these two jobs.

"I've got a summer job for the rest of university," Sydney said. "He (Cook) told me...he sees me as an investment."

Sydney added he is finding the printing business to be very enjoyable. He found out that he's good at writing through his experience writing for the Inuvik Sun, a newspaper produced by the academic studies students.

"I hated it at the beginning of the year, but it turns out if he (Goulet) hadn't stuck with it, I wouldn't have continued," Sydney commented. "I was having a hard time and he sat me down and said, listen, this is where you can be."

Sydney hasn't decided yet what his major will be in university, but said it will either be psychology or anthropology. He plans to get his BA and then may continue on to take a four-year native studies program. This means spending the next eight or so years in school, but that's OK with him.

"I like the concept of career student," he said.