Deon graduated from Porcupine Plain High School in 1988 and always aspired to be a nurse. Unfortunately, as her marks were not high enough, she did not qualify for admission into the program and rather than follow her dreams, she chose to work as a health care aide. In 2005, that changed. Raising 3 small children, suffering from depression, and trying to figure out how to get through the next year, Deon decided to apply to the Adult Basic Education program offered by the College in Hudson Bay. Her goal was to upgrade her marks and apply again into the Practical Nurse program. The Basic Education program was close enough to her home that Deon was able to commute to school, and while in the program she was able to manage being a mother and a student without too many challenges. After completing upgrading, she re-applied for the same nursing program and was accepted! She then spent two years in a classroom at Cumberland College with ten other Practical Nurse students using the same medical equipment they would eventually use on a daily basis in their worksites (in fact, Deon says her most memorable experience at the College was when our nursing instructor taught the students how to auscultate lungs! She describes it as, “Wow!”). Deon is proud to say that she graduated from Practical Nursing in 2009, after working hard for 2 years in the program and juggling being away from her children and home.
Deon says the best part of her college experience was initially joining the Adult Basic Education 12 course. In that room, the instructors did not judge any of the students, all of whom were from different backgrounds. Instead, the staff smiled at the students and made them all feel worthy of an education. It was the first positive interaction Deon had with a teacher. As a child, Deon’s educational experiences were negative; labelled as undeserving, she was placed at the back of her classes and ignored. In the Adult Basic Education 12 and the Practical Nurse program she thrived. Deon says will never forget all the people she encountered there; from support staff to instructors, everyone encouraged the students.
Since finishing her program, Deon has had a very interesting nursing career. She initially worked in her home community to gain nursing experience before being welcomed into the small northern community of Stony Rapids where she worked for the Athabasca Health Care Facility. Deon, who had to fly in and out of the community, found it challenging, especially having to learn some of the Dene language in order to communicate with Elders. Although she is not working in Stony Rapids now, she misses the community and her position there very much. Deon’s interesting background also includes volunteering as a nurse at the Clinic of Hope in a small village in Honduras with the Adventures in Mission (AIM). The missions involve going on medical brigades to provide healthcare for patients at mountainside clinics. Deon stats, “What a privilege for myself to help other human beings.” Currently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic Deon is unable to travel to Honduras but continues to work in the Porcupine Carragana Hospital and Red Deer Nursing Home. Deon credits the small classroom size at Cumberland College and close proximity to her home as what has enabled her to achieve her dreams.
Congratulations, Deon and may your career take you on many more amazing adventures!
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