THUNDER BAY, ON – Confederation College celebrated and recognized the accomplishments of 200 students from its Academic Upgrading program today with a formal ceremony. Students were presented with certificates, awards, and bursaries in recognition of their completion of academic upgrading courses. 24 students received Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificates, provincially recognized as a Grade 12 equivalent. This is the highest number of ACE certificate recipients that Confederation College has celebrated in a single year.
The Academic Upgrading program offers an individualized approach to learning and prepares students to meet their educational, apprenticeship, and/or employment goals. The program focuses on upgrading mathematics, communications, biology, chemistry, physics and computer skills. Following the completion of the preparatory courses, students can gain direct entry into post-secondary programs and apprenticeships, and/or earn their Academic and Career Entrance Certificate (ACE) which is a provincially recognized equivalent to Grade 12.
Each year, approximately 90 graduates from the Academic Upgrading program go on to postsecondary education at Confederation College and many of those students excel. A recent report from the College Sector Committee for Academic Upgrading, titled Prepared for Success 2014-15, proved once again that adult learners who complete academic upgrading programs in Ontario’s 24 public colleges are well-prepared to succeed in post-secondary programs. In fact, it found that the overall pass rate for students in all programs is 82 percent and in all program categories, more than 75 percent of students either graduated or had the necessary grades to enroll in second-semester programming.
One student who was celebrated at the ceremony today was Gail Hamilton who received her ACE Certificate. Having been a young mother and later in life losing her husband to cancer, Hamilton entered a time of rediscovery in determining what she wanted to do next. Because she missed out on a quality education in her younger years, she decided that the natural next step was for her to return to learning with the Academic Upgrading program.
“It was a great way to get back into education because it’s not so regimented,” she said. “When you haven’t been in school for a long time, it’s good to have a little slower pace to get there.”
Hamilton also had to overcome the effects of her post-traumatic stress disorder while studying, but she got through and in fact turned into a great leader in the classroom. As a result, she was further recognized at today’s event with the Student Union’s Leadership and Goodwill Scholarship, acknowledging her strong leadership skills, positive attitude, willingness to learn and encouragement of her fellow students.
Hamilton hopes that others can learn from her experience and find out more about Academic Upgrading for themselves. “Education was part of rebuilding myself,” she said. “I want people to know that when you’re sitting at home and you’re feeling like there is nothing there, there really is. It was the best phone call I ever made.”
Hamilton is currently enrolled in the Social Service Worker program at Confederation College.
President Jim Madder offered his congratulations to all students recognized at the ceremony. “These students work very hard to earn this recognition today and we are so proud of all that they have achieved. Our Academic Upgrading program helps students lay the important foundation they need to support their future success in postsecondary studies and ultimately, their careers. We have seen many students from the program enroll and prosper in a variety of our College programs and later, in the workplace.”
Recognition Day is a highlight of the academic year as Confederation College showcases the accomplishments, dedication, and success of these learners who are from Thunder Bay and throughout the region. A number of awards, certificates, and bursaries were presented along with academic achievement and leadership awards.