Wider Horizons

Amber Willis has a four-month-old and wants to work with seniors. She may well become a woman of the ages.Amber W

I grew up on a farm just south of Lloydminster. After high school, I went to Edmonton for five years, part of which I spent at NAIT studying graphic communications. What I really wanted to do was play volleyball. I liked the subject enough, but it’s not what I wanted for a career. I wanted a job I could work at all day and come home knowing I had done something for somebody.

I moved back home to figure out where my life was going. One day, I was visiting my grandma in an assisted-residence seniors home in Lloydminster, and the manager told me she thought I was really good with seniors. She indicated they could use me there. Soon after, I decided this was what I should be doing in life.

A friend of mine took the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program at Lethbridge College. I heard lots of good stuff about Lethbridge College. I started in the fall of 2009. The program was offered online, which was the appeal for me; I could study and work to pay for it all. And, if I had a question I needed answering immediately, I could go to the seniors home here.

Then, in September 2010 I gave birth to my daughter Logan. Knowing she was due around when I would be starting a new term, I decided to take just one class that semester. Well, September and October were write-offs. I thought “should I just suck up the money and quit?” But I thought “no, you can do this.” It was challenging, but I got through that class.

I have a little education, but not enough to get a job to support both of us. I told myself I needed to get this done so I can give Logan a life, one that doesn’t include living with my mom and dad forever.

This last semester was much easier. We’re into a routine now and I’m not so tired all the time. If we’ve had a good night, we get up about 7 or 7:30 a.m., and Logan goes back to bed after 1½ hours, allowing me to get things done. Sometimes it’s hard to manage to get much done, but usually it works out. I certainly don’t want to make excuses. The communication with my instructors in Lethbridge has been awesome.

This September I have to come to Lethbridge for two classes. I’ll bring Logan. I’ll have plenty of time for her because I’ll be taking my other two classes online. It will again be a new experience and I’m sure challenging at times, getting used to being away from her and being back in a classroom after going this far online.

If all goes as planned, I should graduate in April 2012. I have a job waiting at the senior’s home in Lloydminster, but my dream is to have my own business working with the elderly. I really have a heart for them. The residents at the home all watched my belly grow for nine months; now I take Logan with me when I visit my grandma. All the elderly want is for someone to make them feel special.

I still find time for volleyball, coaching a club team and playing in a women’s league. And at the start of the fall 2010 semester, I applied to be a student blogger on the Lethbridge College website. I’ve been able to put a different spin on student life because, as a single mom taking courses online, I’m not your average student.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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