With a 96.81 per cent grade point average, the Niagara College student will be honoured with a Governor General’s Academic medal for achieving the highest mark at the College when she graduates from the Social Service Worker program this week. It is the highest award a student can receive.
McIntyre, 30, will receive her medal and address the graduating class during the college’s morning convocation ceremony on June 20 – less than two weeks before she is due to give birth to her second child July 1.
The St. Catharines resident, who is married and has a three-year-old daughter, was shocked when she learned she would be receiving the prestigious award. She believes the award validates her academic abilities and her entire life plan. It’s particularly meaningful to McIntyre because it demonstrates how far she has come in such a short period of time.
After spending her twenties floating between various jobs with limited financial and personal rewards, McIntyre became determined to follow her dreams of becoming a social worker after the birth of her daughter. In doing so, she became the first in her family to pursue post-secondary education.
“It wasn’t until I had my daughter that my true priorities came into focus. I looked at her and I knew that I wanted more,” said McIntyre. “I wanted her to pursue post-secondary education and felt I couldn’t expect that of her without doing it myself.”
Through the Social Service Worker program, which she began in 2011, McIntyre valued her opportunity to complete two work placements: One, at Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Niagara, where she gained experience in matching people, peer mentoring, and fundraising; and another at the Niagara Regional Native Centre, where she worked to empower victims of domestic violence.
“The College provided me with placements that offered real, tangible experience within the community. During the year of university preparation, classes such as biology and statistics were considered mandatory,” she said. “By being pushed out of my comfort zone and succeeding, I gained confidence that I could meet the often unpredictable demands of the work.”
While caring for a toddler while pursuing your college diploma may seem daunting, McIntyre says she found her situation to be advantageous because she was highly motivated and determined to be a role model for her children. She attributes her success to a healthy dose of gratitude and appreciation of the entire process of attending college, and her laser-like focus on her long-term goal.
Following graduation, McIntyre plans to pursue her career goal of providing therapeutic counselling for individuals battling mental illness. She has been accepted to attend Niagara University to obtain a Bachelor of Social Work. After completing her bachelor degree, she plans to obtain a post-graduate degree at a Canadian university.
The Governor General’s Academic Medal was established by Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Medals are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, approved college or university program.
Niagara College’s 2013 spring convocation ceremonies will be held twice daily (at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) from Tuesday, June 18 to Friday, June 21.
(Submitted by Niagara College)
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