Do we stay or do we go?

The Central Voice - - Editorial - Kirsten Dal­ley Kirsten Dal­ley is a bi­ol­ogy stu­dent, pub­lished writer, and ro­bot­ics en­thu­si­ast from cen­tral New­found­land.

For many stu­dents, Septem­ber feels like a breath of fresh air af­ter a stag­nant, muggy sea­son.

The ex­cite­ment of sum­mer has long worn off, re­placed with bore­dom and soli­tude as sea­sonal pro­grams wind down and fam­i­lies try to fit their last few cabin trips in be­fore the days get too short.

This an­tic­i­pa­tion is es­pe­cially true for post-sec­ondary stu­dents, many of whom have just said good­bye to their long-time high school class­mates and are ready to write the next chap­ter. For oth­ers re­turn­ing to univer­sity or col­lege, a se­mes­ter at home may have felt like a decade away from their friends and the lives they’ve be­gun build­ing out­side of the con­fines of their home­town.

But one thing both high school and post-sec­ondary stu­dents share is the pres­sure of choos­ing the right ed­u­ca­tional path. The vari­ants of the ques­tion “What are your plans for the fu­ture?” get old pretty quick. Many of us have ab­so­lutely no idea who we are, let alone what we would like to ded­i­cate the rest of our lives to do­ing. Some of us do have spe­cific hopes and dreams about what job op­por­tu­ni­ties might arise. We think about these with cau­tion, how­ever, as the op­por­tu­ni­ties (and lack thereof) are well known to us.

Me­mo­rial Univer­sity cur­rently boasts more than 100 de­gree pro­grams with three cam­puses in New­found­land. Col­lege of the North At­lantic has over 90 pro­grams listed for the 2018-19 school year and has 17 cam­puses in the prov­ince. There are sev­eral other smaller in­sti­tu­tions across the is­land of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of other pro­grams.

De­spite the seem­ingly end­less choices at our fin­ger­tips, a lot of stu­dents strug­gle to find a pro­gram to suit both their in­ter­ests and needs. This is not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause the cour­ses aren’t avail­able here at home, al­though this is some­times the case with long wait lists for pop­u­lar pro­grams, but it is of­ten due to the lack of work avail­able once we have our diploma.

Al­though there is al­ways the de­mand for more labour, re­tail, and health care work­ers, it is much more dif­fi­cult to find a ca­reer in gen­der stud­ies or com­pu­ta­tional chem­istry.

Just as the in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who come to New­found­land for the low tu­ition and leave for bet­ter em­ploy­ment, lo­cal stu­dents are feel­ing pres­sured to move away for big­ger and bet­ter things. There is a greater di­ver­sity of oc­cu­pa­tions avail­able in other parts of Canada. Po­si­tions com­pa­ra­ble to those that are avail­able here of­ten pay bet­ter wages else­where. It is not un­com­mon to see young peo­ple with di­plo­mas in the trades do turn­arounds in Al­berta and en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates seek out po­si­tions in On­tario. Plan­ning your en­trance into adult­hood around plane tick­ets to the main­land has be­come a part of grow­ing up in New­found­land.

Al­though I have also toyed with the idea of say­ing good­bye to the is­land once and for all, I have yet to de­cide whether I will be able to let go of my home for good. Cur­rently I am study­ing hu­man bi­ol­ogy and com­puter science via dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion with a univer­sity in Al­berta in hopes of lay­ing a solid foun­da­tion for med­i­cal school in the fu­ture.

Work­ing in the health care field al­ready, I know I will al­ways have a place in this prov­ince some­where on the spec­trum of pro­fes­sion­als that are vi­tal to our so­ci­ety, par­tic­u­larly the in­creas­ingly ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

For me, it is the de­ci­sion be­tween giv­ing back to my prov­ince or leav­ing for bet­ter con­di­tions. There is also the con­cern of whether or not I would be able to per­form bioin­for­matic re­search here, a con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety I may not be able to make with­out the equip­ment and op­por­tu­ni­ties we lack. I still have hope that it be avail­able for me within the prov­ince in the fu­ture.

Nev­er­the­less, we can’t all be doc­tors.

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