Sunday, April 21, 2024

Defying all odds

Once you know Trent White’s story, it’s easy to understand why many describe him as an inspiration.

“I had a wonderful childhood,” he says. “I had a very active life. I may not have been able to do things like other teenagers, but that did not stop me to find a way and do things differently.” 

He was 15 years old when he became paraplegic after a car accident in 1988. Although the accident restricted him to a wheelchair, his faith and humility to beat the odds and motivate others continued. He credits his immense passion and exceptionally positive spirit to the support of his family and wife, Denise.

“My wife is a remarkable person and is truly my strength. She and my family are my support system,” he said.

A native of Western Bay, NL, he graduated from Jackson Walsh Memorial High in 1991. It was then that he discovered his passion for math, which further influenced him to pursue the Bachelor of Science Program at Memorial University with a joint Major in Math and Physics. He has also completed a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and a Post-Secondary Education Certificate from Memorial University.

Trent started working at College of the North Atlantic (CNA) in 1998 as an Academic Math/Physics Instructor and has been teaching for 23 years. He has the reputation of knowing the material inside and out.

“There is something extremely gratifying about imparting information to students and working with them to ensure they understand, not only concepts, but practical applications as well. I teach out of a passion for the subject,” he said. “I truly love math and physics and have a desire to share the knowledge with others; that passion can make you excel at anything.”

Over time, his paralysis has led to a decreased use of his hands. While there have been setbacks physically, he hasn’t let it affect his job in any way. He’s adopted systems to enable him to carry on teaching.

“Management, faculty and staff at CNA have been a tremendous support to me, and I have always had a feeling of inclusion here”, he said.

Among the many accolades, the Clarenville Campus’ Faculty of the Year Award he received in 2010 made a special impact on his life. He gets real joy from all his students, he says, even the ones who think that math is difficult.  Helping students understand that math is more than just numbers is key he says; they need to see it as developing problem solving skills, which is what employers want.

“I often feel there is no one mold to teach students math – some need a basic orientation, while others have advanced skill sets. Most times, especially in the Trades, a lot of my mature students help the young students who are just out of high school. They share their experiences, which is a great exercise to help them build a bond of togetherness that allows them to help each other, especially with their math.”

Since the pandemic, Trent has been working exclusively with Distributed Learning (DL), where he teaches mostly Statistics, Math and Physics in Comprehensive Arts and Science Transition (CAS) and math in computers for the CNA’s new Enterprise Web Development program.

He has solid advice for new students:

“Take the initiative in pursuing your education, stay focused and make sure you complete your goal. You’re going to have some ups and have some downs but continue to press forward because you’ll get the reward at the end.”

Apart from doing what he loves as a career, Trent is a big NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) fan.  In his spare time, he and his wife enjoy time with friends and family at their summer cabin and on their boat.

For more information on the programs offered at CNA, visit:


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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.



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