A student story
“My first encounter with the Ban Righ Centre came on a crisp autumn day when I fortuitously entered a warm brown brick house on Bader Lane. It was a moment I will never forget because of the emotion it evoked; I could finally say “I’m home. I’m safe. I belong.” The transition to university life had been terribly difficult for me. I had never felt so alone and out of my element as I did when surrounded by thousands of young, ambitious and self-assured fellow students. Suffice to say, I found it hard to connect with my ‘peers’ as a 28 year old mother who left a job, public housing and subsidized daycare in order to pursue my dream of a university education. I want to make it plain that I do not use the term ‘dream’ lightly. It is true to say that there were times of darkness in which I never dreamed that I would attain a university degree and be the first to do so in my family.
Walking into the Ban Righ Centre that day changed my outlook and thus the course of my university career. I was no longer alone; I was in a proverbial house of square pegs – a house of women who do not (or will not) fit the typical student profile. We range in age from our early 20s into our 80s. We are gay, straight and transgendered. We speak a host of languages, come from every possible corner of the globe, belong to a variety of faith traditions, and hold opinions that span the political spectrum. We are wives and partners, divorced and single, parents and caregivers-of-parents. Some of us are abuse survivors. Some of us, like me, are now cancer survivors. In this house our differences – our diversity – makes us strong. In this house, we belong and our talents are honoured. The Centre affords women an opportunity to walk hand-in-hand with other women, holding each other up with our heads held high as we work towards a common goal of higher education.”
Contributed by Laurie Gashinski, who became a SSHRC scholarship winner; an honours graduate of distinction; a departmental medal winner for highest graduating average; and a highly-trained professional now working as a teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. There are many other such inspiring stories.