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College and University Combination Great Mix

May 06, 2008

Career choices have never been more diverse than they are today and the educational pathways that prepare individuals for these positions are as varied as the opportunities themselves.

“If not for my experience at Loyalist College, I would not be teaching right now,” said Tawnya Smith, a 1995 graduate of the College’s Developmental Services Worker (DSW) program who is currently a guidance counsellor teacher at Moira Secondary School. “After receiving my diploma, the different career opportunities provided stepping stones to my teaching career. The job I held prior to entering teaching was that of an Educational Assistant in the Special Education Department at Moira. It provided me with the experience that helped me get into teacher’s college and, most importantly, the love of working with students.”

Tawnya graduated from Centennial Secondary School, then attended York University and graduated in 1994 with a BA in Psychology. Although she credits this time as her growing up experience — living away from home and gaining responsibility — she described herself as merely a number to her professors. Moving directly into the college system as a DSW student she noticed the differences between the two and how they complemented each other. “Learning at Loyalist was much more hands-on. I had two different work placements that really gave me a feel for the job market and the possibilities that were out there while I gained valuable work experience. There was definitely a personal element to the College that I didn’t find at university. You felt like your teachers and classmates were really looking out for you and that you helped keep each other on track.”

Following her graduation from the DSW program Tawnya explored a variety of work positions at private homes, group homes and with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. Through these roles she discovered a love of teaching and decided to return to school to obtain her teaching degree at the University of Toronto.

“I definitely recommend Loyalist. I think that some students in the area overlook the College because they are anxious to move away. Loyalist has a lot to offer — a wide variety of program choices, residence, off-campus housing, extra curricular activities and a variety of night classes as well. I’ve just finished a Spanish class and I’m looking forward to taking more courses.”

“Many DSW graduates choose to work as Educational Assistants or seek employment at a variety of agencies providing direct care, or work as activation coordinators in nursing homes,” explained Lisa Monsma, Professor in the DSW program. “Then there are those like Tawnya, who go on to become classroom teachers or obtain their degrees in disability studies. Perhaps the most important aspect of their learning experience here at Loyalist is that they develop a passionate understanding of working with students with special needs.”