Harbour Grace native finds fulfillment
Community Studies graduate working with non-profit agency
Amelia White was searching for direction when she found the Community Studies program at College of the North Atlantic (CNA).
She had begun her post-secondary education by enrolling in university, following a common path for students who achieve high academic standing. However, after three years of working toward a degree in psychology, she still didn’t see a definite career path ahead of her.
“It was a lot of schooling for a non-specific direction,” says the Riverhead, Harbour Grace native. “After two years, I already had $18,000 racked up in student loans, and if you’re in school that long, spending that kind of money, you really want to be sure of what you’re doing, and I wasn’t, really.”
That’s when Amelia started looking for something that spoke to her passion for helping people, and found the two-year diploma program in Community Studies at CNA’s Carbonear campus.
Amelia had been a community volunteer in her hometown and through the Community Studies program she learned how she could contribute on a professional level, through leadership, fundraising and providing human services.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work in the community,” she says. “I have an interest in environmentalism and I like helping people, so to be able to narrow down those interests is tricky.”
Amelia says she quickly learned that the program could lead to a wide variety of career options, and she tried a few different summer jobs to find her niche. From a women’s centre, to a conservation group, and even Wonderbolt Circus, she had the opportunity to experience many of the different aspects of her program.
“I learned about non-physical crisis intervention as well as conflict resolution and a myriad of other things,” she says. “There are so many different routes you can take. I’ve taken the community fundraising approach, but there’s also the counselling aspect, the crisis intervention aspect that you are equally qualified for.”
About a year ago, Amelia accepted a position as event planner at the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, but she says the program’s comprehensive curriculum prepared her for a variety of potential careers.
“I don’t think there’s anything I learned about that I don’t use,” she says. “When you look at the program, you’re working with computers, doing data entry and regular office duties. I also do education outreach, so the presentation skills I learned are helpful for that. You do fundraising in the program so that gave me a lot of experience with budgeting and allocating resources.”
As executive director at the Alzheimer Society, Shirley Lucas has come to know Amelia as a valuable employee.
“She’s quite knowledgeable. She picks up (every) task very confidently and has the skill set to be able to do it,” she says. “She’s very resourceful. She’s a very good people person and likes working with them and is considerably helpful to them. She has excellent organizational skills.”
Lucas says those are all attributes that are developed through the Community Studies program.
“She probably has a lot of that in her personality and when matched with the education (at CNA) she was able to put it in the right areas to apply herself accordingly,” she says. “It’s very rewarding working with people who are going on the journey of Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s very rewarding knowing that you are doing something that’s helping them along the way.”
For Amelia, it all comes down to feeling a sense of fulfillment when she goes to work each day.
“I love working with a nonprofit organization because they are so full of value,” she says. “With a for-profit organization it’s more about getting the job done and making money, whereas we’re more about making a difference in people’s lives.”
She says that’s why she knows she’s found the direction she was looking for.
“I love my job. My goal was to work with the community and to work with people and that’s exactly what I do.”
Two veteran members of the Brigus Volunteer Fire Department recently received long-service awards during the 48th firemen’s conference in St. John’s. David King and George Fry were among five volunteers from across the province to receive 40-year service awards. The conference, held June 30-July 1, also included a ceremony to retire the helmets of distinguished firefighters who either retired or passed away in 2011 and 2012. Included was the helmet of the late David Percey, a long-time member of the Brigus fire department who passed away on Nov. 26, 2011. He was 50 years-of-age. Representatives from just under 80 fire departments took part in the conference. Shown here are, from left, George Fry, Brigus Chief Rodney Mercer and David King.
Shirley Lucas (left), executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, knows she’s found a wellrounded employee in Amelia White, a graduate of College of the North Atlantic’s Community Studies program. White is a native of Riverhead, Harbour Grace.