During my first session in the OnGoing Recovery Program I was informed about the Women Do Recover Award of Education, and instantly I was excited. My heart started pounding, and I knew that writing an essay for this scholarship was something I had to do. Going to post-secondary school and finishing a program has always been a goal I have wanted to achieve.
My addiction started in high school, but I always managed to do well academically. Although I was using on a daily basis, I still loved to learn and write. I was granted the opportunity to experience University courses during high school because I was on the honour roll. I chose to take Health and Human Services which is a ten-course program at the University of the Fraser Valley. In my Grade 12 year, I attended high school courses during the day and University courses at night. I took the Health and Human Services program to experience University and hopefully find my passion while exploring potential career options. I had the opportunity to do several hours of job shadowing at Abbotsford Regional Hospital where I spent lots of time with nurses in all different areas. I felt excited to go to the hospital in the morning and was disappointed when I had to leave in the evening. This was a turning point for me as I decided I want to be a Registered Nurse. I completed Grade 12 with Honours, but I needed to use drugs to get through the day and my interest in school was declining.
After high school, I was introduced to a new drug, and my addiction took a turn for the worse. Although I had my high school diploma, there were courses in the Health and Human Services program that I needed to complete to obtain my certificate. Shortly after completing 80% of the program, my addiction got so bad that I moved out of my parent’s house and lost contact with my family. I was taking my second to the last course when I lost the capability to continue my education and dropped out. I gave up any chance of ever getting my certificate without redoing the entire program. I threw away my family, education and job so that I could put all my time and energy into finding ways and means to use more. I was a young girl stuck in the grips of addiction who hoped to one day live a normal life and have a bright future.
I eventually reached out for help, which resulted in me moving back in with my parents and getting on an opiate replacement program. This was only a temporary solution but allowed me to live somewhat of a normal life. My parents encouraged me to go to school while I was living at home and I knew in my heart that nursing was the career I wanted to continue pursuing. Although my addiction held me back, I was determined to slowly make moves towards my goal. Over the next few years, I worked full-time, saved money for school and looked into the prerequisites for the nursing program at UFV. I managed to save half of the money I needed for the BSN program which was a huge accomplishment for me. I took Foundations of Math 11, Chemistry 11 and Biology 12. I got my Standard First Aid with CPR-C-AED certificate and completed over 100 hours of volunteer work.
On paper, I had everything I needed to apply for the nursing program at UFV. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, I was completely broken. Every dollar I made was feeding my addiction. The bottom that made me decide to go to treatment was spending all the money I saved for school. It was only then that I realized I lost everything and needed to change. Going to Westminster House was the best decision I ever made. Today, I’m 6 months clean from street drugs and alcohol and 4 months clean from opiate replacement. I made the difficult decision to move away from my family in Abbotsford to the New Westminster recovery community. I’ve learned so many tools that I can use in every area of my life. I’m happy, healthy and experience true freedom today. I wake up every day with gratitude and purpose. I live with integrity and fight for other women through sponsorship and service.
I pursued a job in dining services at a retirement home up the street from Westminster House and am now working there part-time. I chose a retirement home because I believe getting experience with older adults will be very beneficial for a career in nursing. Working closely with the elderly on a daily basis allows me to get to know their different personalities, interests and needs. After a day of work I feel fulfilled and know that providing services and care is my passion. Working closely with older adults in a medical capacity as a Registered Nurse would be a dream come true.
Today I live in recovery and addiction can no longer rob me of my hopes, dreams and goals. It is my time to reclaim my life and finally finish what I started. I want to take general studies, apply for the Academic Foundations for Nursing and later the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The Women Do Recover Award of Education would be life changing, giving me the ability to continue working, start school and above all else focus on my recovery. Getting into nursing would be one of my greatest gifts of being clean.