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My SWAF Story – Betty

Betty shares her experience of the UGDSB’s School within a Factory program, and describes her journey to earning her high school diploma

I never enjoyed school when I was growing up. When you are young, the social side of high school seems far more important. I was constantly dealing with bullying and never felt like I truly belonged. It got to the point that I felt I had to make a decision: stay in a place that made me miserable or leave school and venture out into the world of work. I decided my best option was to leave school and eventually, I left my home province of Alberta to start fresh in Ontario.

The decision to leave school is never an easy one. In fact, it’s a decision that I feel has been haunting me for over thirty years. When you don’t have your diploma you constantly feel the need to defend yourself. But try as you may, the negative perception that people have about you begins to take its toll. You start to think, “Maybe I really am stupid.” It’s a terrible feeling. I decided I had to make another change and began attending the Walkerton Learning Centre. I regained the foundation for learning, and knew it was time to go beyond improving my skills to really begin pursuing my OSSD.

The opportunity finally presented itself when I saw the advertisement for SWAF North at DANA Long Manufacturing. I met with Shelley Bell to discuss the program and find out what I needed to do to graduate. When Shelley told me it was possible to graduate within the year, I couldn’t wait to begin. Still, there were times in the first couple weeks when I thought that maybe I was wrong and this wasn’t for me after all. Luckily, I stuck with it. I worked week after week with my teachers at SWAF, making my way through History, Geography, Math and English. I could see my goal getting closer and closer after every lesson, assignment and course was completed.

So here I am now! After ten hard, but extremely rewarding months, I finally had the chance to walk across the stage as a high school graduate and I couldn’t be happier. I can’t say that I know exactly what’s next for me yet, but I do know that I’m not ready to stop learning now! I plan to continue with SWAF North to upgrade my courses and keep opening doors for myself. Above all, it’s the satisfaction of knowing that I did it and the end of all of those negative thoughts that means the most to me!