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The final reward

Aurora College grads ready to move forward

Dave Sullivan
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 09/01) - Lisa Evans represents a figure of today's college student that's more than an image of a teen just out of high school, free of responsibilities.

Evans' chosen path of going to school while raising a family, juggling a full-time job and tight finances is a common thread bonding Northern grads to each other and their families.

Loved ones play a more important role than ever in helping today's college students, overwhelmingly women in Yellowknife, qualify for a better life.

Family support was the main message of Aurora College's May 5 Yellowknife graduation ceremony.

In a banquet room brimming with optimism, 68 of the college's newest graduates were joined by over 350 family members, who guest speakers and students themselves recognized as anchors which kept them going.

"You can feel the pride in this room. We know that this day, this gift, has been a collective achievement," said valedictorian Vicki St. Germaine.

"You were in so many immeasurable ways, our strength," she said of families. "Whether we went home to you every day after class or weren't able to see you for months at a time."

During her office administration course, Evans gave birth to Donovan while already raising another son, now six years old.

She studied nights while working by day as an assistant finance trainee for Deton'Cho Corporation, which helps aboriginals get back to school.

Sacrifices by her and her family "will help me achieve my goal," said Evans, who turned 24 on graduation day. She wants to be a certified management accountant.

"I'm slowly getting there," she said.

She credits parents and her common-law boyfriend for "really helping. I hardly ever saw my kids."

William Dubois stood by wife Deborah Wilson once when she went through a two-year nursing program and then for another 13 months ending last weekend, while she took Aurora's licensed practical nurse course.

The couple's children are grown but there were still many sacrifices, Dubois said.

They were worthwhile because "she always wanted to be in that field. I know she's happy today."