by Tom Bartsiokas

originally published in the December, 2010 Issue

It’s never too late to go back to school. Just ask Alicia Woods.

At 16, this Newmarket resident dropped out of high school, and a few years later she became pregnant. To pay the rent and support her son, the single mother took a job at a coffee shop, where she worked long hours and earned minimum wage.

Serving coffee made Alicia realize she wanted more out of life. So with her family’s encouragement, the 25-year-old returned to school after almost a decade to earn a college diploma and prepare for the future.

“If it wasn’t for my son I probably would have never gone back to school,” Alicia says. “I wanted him to know he can do anything he puts his mind to.”

Alicia’s decision to pursue post-secondary education led her to Seneca’s Business Office Skills program, which provides students with the office skills and knowledge to meet the demands of today’s workplace.

In fact, the program’s curriculum is directly related to the skills needed in the current job market and includes courses in accounting, Internet and e-mail, business English, Microsoft Office, math and service excellence.

Alicia says she found the program difficult at first, but thanks to the help of her professors not only did she pass all of her courses, she earned an overall GPA of 3.9.

The Faculty at the Newmarket Campus where Alicia was studying was so impressed with her work ethic and academic achievements that they nominated her to be College valedictorian this past June.

It was an honour Alicia gladly accepted on behalf of the Faculty of Workforce Skills Development and today it stands out as one of her prouder moments.

“Three years ago I never thought I’d come this far,” she says. “You can pretty much do anything you put your mind to, and I learned that firsthand this past year. It wasn’t easy, but I was determined.”

To learn more about the Business Office Skills program, visit www.senecac.on.ca/fulltime/BOS

Toronto, Canada