Toby Orrick had high hopes of working in the logging industry for his entire career. But an extreme case of tendonitis in both hands sidelined his plans and forced a career change.
Orrick, 40, is back in the classroom upgrading his education at Vancouver Island University.
He recently won a Career and Academic Preparation faculty award for high academic achievement in VIU’s Adult Basic Education program (ABE).
“This is a big achievement because I haven’t been in school in 22 years,” says Orrick. “It was scary to return to the classroom but I had no choice. I was told I can never go back to logging.”
Orrick is amazed that he’s earning high marks in math and science. “I never performed this well in high school,” he says. “Obviously I’m more motivated and more mature. This gives me hope that I can successfully switch to a new career.” Orrick plans to continue upgrading and eventually pursue a science degree in petroleum engineering.
He says the support of ABE instructors is a key factor in his success. “They are a phenomenal group who are totally dedicated to helping students succeed."
Orrick is also grateful for funding support from WorkSafe BC which made it possible for him to return to school. “It’s an investment that will pay off. I will soon have the education I need to launch a new career.”
Orrick’s advice to others thinking about going back to school? “Just do it and believe in yourself. Even if it’s hard at first, just know that each day gets easier. This has been such a positive experience for me. I’d recommend ABE to anyone.”
ABE student Tammy Aikman also received special recognition for outstanding academic achievement. Aikman, a single mom of two teenage boys, received the Coastal Community Credit Union award. She is upgrading her education to apply to VIU’s Resource Management Officer Technology program.
“It takes courage to do what she’s doing,” says Aikman’s 19-year-old son Andrew.
It also takes perseverance, adds Jeannie Malteson, Interim Dean of Career and Academic Preparation. “For many students, just walking through the door to inquire about upgrading their education is a huge achievement. We do whatever we can to help them fulfill their goals. We want them to be successful while furthering their education. Celebrating student success is definitely an important part of the journey.”
Thousands of dollars in scholarships were awarded to ABE students at a year-end celebration recently.
ABE courses are offered at the Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River Campuses, and at the Parksville-Qualicum Centre. Courses in Nanaimo start three times a year in September, January and April. For information, call 250-740-6425.