STARTING ANEW WITH INDEPENDENT LEARNING        by Gelek Badheytsang

originally published in the 2013 Winter Issue

Living in a new country can sometimes mean more than leaving your friends or personal belongings behind. For some, it means starting their careers from scratch and leaving their original aspirations behind as well.


Such was the case for Ilda. After arriving in Toronto in 2009 from Cameroon, Ilda felt a need to reassess her career goals. “I wanted to be an accountant at first,” the 28 year-old, mother of two says. “But I changed my mind and decided to become a nurse because I felt that I could have a more flexible work schedule, and be available to look after my family.”


Even though Ilda had a Bachelor’s Degree from her native country, she found out that in order for her to pursue her nursing studies, she needed to fill in those gaps with Ontario high school courses.


She checked her Cameroonian credentials with the International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS) and was told that she needed high school Science and English credits. Unsure about how to proceed, a friend pointed her to the Independent Learning Centre (ILC).


“The ILC was perfect,” Ilda says. “All of the prerequisite credits that I needed were offered by the ILC, so I registered right away.”


With help from her husband, Ilda registered with the ILC to take the four high school courses she needed to enter University. She completed her courses in eight months, with an average in the mid-eighties.


“I was so happy!” exclaims Ilda. Even though the courses were new to her, the way the courses were designed and the support from ILC’s staff helped her excel in her distance learning.


“I thought the science courses would be really hard, but the way ILC broke down the materials helped me understand what I was studying and reflect on what I’d learned,” says Ilda.


“The courses we offer and the independence that comes with the ILC model is a tremendous opportunity for many Ontarians, especially those who are new parents or new Canadians,” says Sarah Irwin, Managing Director of the ILC. “Our students are proof that getting a high school diploma is possible. Regardless of your circumstance, you don’t have to turn your life upside down to complete your high school education.”


With her Ontario high school credits in hand, Ilda was accepted into the nursing program at Toronto’s George Brown College. She will eventually graduate from Ryerson University. University and her goals won't end with a nursing degree. “I want to become a nurse practitioner,” says Ilda. “My hope is to work in the pediatric unit of a hospital.”


Sometimes, it turns out, starting from scratch isn’t as bad as it seems.


The ILC is Ontario’s designated provider of distance education. Courses are designed to help individuals of all ages seeking to complete their high school qualifications or upgrade their marks for post-secondary enrolment. Additionally, the ILC is the sole provider of the GED Test, which awards successful test takers with an Ontario High School Equivalency Certificate. ILC high school courses are available in English and French. Registration fee is $40 per course.


Visit www.ILC.org for more information.


* Last name withheld upon request

Toronto, Canada