Valerie BuffaloCalf’s story is one that shows that with determination, dedication, and hard work, it’s possible to change your life as well as the lives of those around you. Before deciding to pursue the community service worker and addictions program at AOLCC, Valerie experienced difficulties finding work. “It was over a year I’d been applying to places, and I still hadn’t had any interviews or anything,” she says. Always the hard worker, though, she spent her time making ribbon skirts for sun dances and religious gatherings.
Seeing her frustrations, her mother, who works as an Addictions Counsellor for women at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek Saskatchewan, encouraged Valerie to look in new directions and pursue a career. That moment sparked a journey that Valerie will not soon forget.
We spoke with Valerie, who recently graduated from the Community Service and Addictions Worker Diploma Program at AOLCC. Here’s what Valerie had to tell us about her experiences before, during and after her CSW training at AOLCC.
Valerie’s Experience Applying to Our Community Service Program
Self-doubt is something that can sometimes hold back even the most talented individuals. For Valerie, that self-doubt crept in early in her application process when she began talking with someone from AOLCC. “I was talking to her, and I was like wow this seems like a lot of work. I don’t know. My mind has always been… there to make me think that I can’t do things and all this and I wasn’t capable.”
Fortunately, with the help of AOLCC and her mother’s encouragement, Valerie was able to see that she could tackle this new challenge and succeed. “I was like okay, I guess I can do this,” says Valerie. AOLCC helped her through the entire application process, and soon Valerie was ready to begin her community service and addictions training. “Everything just came into place and I was like oh my god I’m really going to start school,” says Valerie, reflecting back on that moment, “It was awesome.”
Surprises and Challenges While at AOLCC
When Valerie first discovered AOLCC, she initially considered the Accounting and Payroll program. However, she eventually decided on the Community Service and Addictions Worker Diploma Program because it’s a subject that she is truly passionate about. About 6 years ago, Valerie had worked as a Prevention Services Worker working with kids and families. It was an experience that she reflected back on as she decided on the career and program that she wanted to pursue. “I kind of wanted to help the parents so that the kids could have a better life,” says Valerie, emphasizing that her goal is to help “break intergenerational trauma because that’s all I grew up knowing, is trauma. I used to go to a residential school, and the school that I went to, the last school, closed in 1996. So when they let us go… they had sent us home to our parents who were… another generation who had gone to residential school and who had got it much worse than us.”
Her studies marked the beginning of a journey that would include several surprises and challenges. “When we started going through the program, it started opening my mind a lot,” says Valerie, “It helped me figure out a lot about myself too… I really wanted to get into my brain to see why I do the things I do.”
One aspect of her studies that Valerie found frustrating was studying, as well as her classes on Word. “In my first course, I was having trouble with everything,” she says, recalling moments when she even began to doubt herself. Fortunately, with encouragement and support from her family, especially her partner and daughter, Valerie overcame this challenge. When asked what she did, she said “I would read and read… Sometimes I would be at the computer for twelve hours just so I can get it.”
The Advice Valerie Wants to Give to Others
Having graduated from our career college in Calgary and having launched a rewarding career, Valerie knows what it takes to achieve your dreams and make a difference. When Valerie had her first job interview after graduation, she carefully read over the module she took on interviews, looked over her notes, and researched the company before the interview. Not only did she do well on the interview, but she landed the position! She even received two other job offers not long after. (and to think she had originally doubted herself and had almost walked away from her studies!)
If you’re considering joining one of our community service programs, Valerie has this advice to offer “Pay attention!” she says, emphasizing how important it is to read. “If you get frustrated, take a break but don’t give up. The rewards… they’re awesome, and when you’re done, everything just works out. You’re happier mentally. You’re out there meeting new people… it was life-changing for me.”
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