By Minal Abhange
Growing up in Labrador, Jason Dicker always knew that post-secondary education would be a difficult, but worthwhile, journey.
What helped him every step of the way was the strong support of his family and siblings.
“My parents, home and family are always going to be there and going to support me. Stay focused and pursue education to become successful in life.”
Once Jason finished high school, the intense urge to learn more motivated him to pursue the Aboriginal Bridging program at College of North Atlantic (CNA) in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“At the time, it was a big, scary decision. I was going to be away from home and my family, and in a new environment surrounded by strangers. Today, I feel very accomplished and it was all worth it,” he says.
Jason’s favourite part of studying at CNA was the focus on in-depth subject matter, along with the variety of resources available on campus to help him transition smoothly into the post-secondary environment.
“I came from a small community, and it was very intimidating in the beginning. My classmates and instructors were very helpful, and we had a lot of extra-curricular activities which made it very enjoyable,” he says.
Jason graduated in 2012, but his learning experience did not stop there.
“After completing the Aboriginal Bridging Program, I wanted to pursue further education in courses related to natural resources and environment. Further to that, I wanted to pursue a Diploma in Northern Natural Resources Technician at CNA. Once that was completed, I found out from my counsellor at CNA about the transfer agreement with Memorial University. I moved to Corner Brook to pursue Bachelor of Arts (BA) Environmental Studies, Social Sciences followed by Master of Arts (MA) Environmental Policy, which I will finish in 2019.”
However, Jason felt he was ready to reach new horizons in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It has indeed been a challenging experience, which has really honed me as a person. I came from a small community, so communication and interacting with people was challenging in the beginning. Now I celebrate all the independence I have got in the process and feel accomplished in moving to a bigger city (Corner Brook) transitioning towards a successful career path.”
Along with academic experience, Jason has been actively involved in various job roles at the Grenfell Campus.
“Most recently I started working as the Research Assistant at the campus. I analyze Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) statistics and data related to wildlife management in Newfoundland. Some of my past roles include Treasurer and Scribe to the Indigenous Caucus, both inclined towards representing student-related activities,” he says.
Jason’s message to students aspiring to take the Aboriginal Bridging Program?
“The program gives a sense of how post-secondary education is helping ‘bridge the educational gaps’ in the lives of Aboriginal students. The split focus – academic and personal skills development – forms a solid foundational.
“I believe that all indigenous people should strengthen their identity through environmental and resource management in a place where natural resources are highly considered for development. My interest is in environmental studies through resource and wildlife management, indigenous perspectives and environmental policy. I look forward to bring back the knowledge I gain back to the community and make a difference in lives,” Jason noted.
For more information about CNA’s Aboriginal Bridging Program, visit http://www.cna.nl.ca