Grad ‘poster person’ for distance ed.

Bryce Forbes

FORT FRANCES—By the end of Confederation College’s graduation ceremony Tuesday evening at the Townshend Theatre, one student completed a grand slam of academics by taking home four awards.
Barb Kwasnicia of Atikokan not only graduated from the Social Service Worker program, her third diploma from the college, but she also took home the Academic Award of Excellence for her program, the President’s Award of Excellence, the Governor General’s Academic Medal, and finally the Derek & Joan Burney Award of Excellence.
“I was quite surprised,” said Kwasnicia, who is the first person in the college’s history to win four awards through its distance learning program.
Despite previously earning two diplomas (human resources in 2000 and human resources management in 2001), this won’t be the end of her schooling.
Next year, Kwasnicia hopes to finish her honours bachelor degree in Social Service Work.
“I’m a life-long learner, always have been, always will be,” remarked Kwasnicia, who went back to school after a workplace injury forced her into a different line of work.
“I think everyone should be.
“I wanted something I could do from Atikokan locally,” she added. “Human resources and social work, you need people skills for both of them, so it wasn’t a big change to go from HR to SSW.”
She took the Social Service Work program through distance learning offered through the college and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
“I think it was a sense of relief,” Kwasnicia enthused. “The program was done successfully.
“It was a lot of work and a lot of dedication, a lot of committed time afterwards for getting assignments, being proactive.
“Working smarter, not necessarily harder, and in the end, it all paid off,” she noted.
For her, distance learning was an easier way to learn compared to the typical classroom setting.
“I actually prefer distance ed. over classroom learning,” she said. “It’s just my learning style.
“I pay attention. I don’t like a lot of distractions and I take my work very seriously, so I find that distance ed. is a really good way to do that.”
She also received high praise from Confederation College president Patricia Lang.
“Isn’t that amazing, she takes my breath away,” Lang lauded. “I really appreciate the effort that she has put in, and I see her as the poster person for distance education.
“Not only does she scoop all of our awards, she is a pioneer as the first student ever to win these awards through distance education.”
Kwasnicia wasn’t the only winner of multiple award winner Tuesday night as Marcia Broughton, a grad from the paramedic program, won two.
She took home the Academic Award of Excellence for her program as well as the Rainy River District Campus Award of Excellence.
“It was amazing,” Broughton enthused. “For the first award, another teammate and I thought we were fairly close so I didn’t know if he or I would win.
“But when the second award came, I was really shocked, but I was really excited and honoured to get it,” she added.
“I felt very accomplished. I felt, ‘Wow, I finished and I finished very well.’”
The medical field was something Broughton had wanted to pursue since she graduated from high school. She originally took a medical assistant program after high school, then started a family before going back to school.
For her, it made the moment that much more special knowing her kids were in attendance last night.
“I hope they look up to me and think, ‘You know what, I’m going to go to school, and I’m going to become something and I’m going to work hard,’” she hoped.
“If it wasn’t for my husband and my two kids, I wouldn’t have gotten through it because they supported me the whole way,” she stressed.
Broughton has been working since April as a paramedic out of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls. Once she gets her certificate, she hopes to land a job here in Rainy River District.
Kwasnicia and Broughton were two of 61 students who graduated from Confederation College on Tuesday.
“We went last year from a record of just over 100 students to over 130 students, and it looks like we are going to continue to grow for next year, as well,” said Anne Renaud, director of the Rainy River District campus.
“It was a phenomenal year, two years, or three years for the grad class, and it was nice to see so many people out today,” Renaud added.
“Sad to see them go,” she remarked. “Some of them have become really close to us and been a big part of the campus, and we are going to miss them.”
For Lang, it was the wide variety of students she was most surprised with.
“For me, it was the diversity of programs that we had today that impressed me,” she said. “Every one of our schools had students graduating from it today.
“We [also] have more students studying in the region than ever before.
“It’s so nice to see the students and their growth,” Lang continued. “When they come in on the first day of class and they are nervous, anxious, and can’t find where their classrooms are, to see them today cross the stage with a sense of self-confidence and self-awareness and self-esteem is what it is all about.”
A few dignitaries were on hand for the grad ceremony, including Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis.
“This is a time of your life you will not forget,” the mayor said in his remarks to the grads. “You are the future of our town and district.
“Get involved and help build on the foundation we have,” he urged. “You can make a difference.”
Other winners of the Academic Awards of Excellence for their respective programs included Patricia Smith, Amanda Jourdain, Cassandra Parise, Deborah Bazylewski, Samuel Nussbaumer, Patsy Roy, Ryan Caul, Kyleigh Ossachuk, and Dawn Pastuck.
In the end, Lang offered this advice to the graduates who walked across the stage here Tuesday.
“To believe in themselves, to believe in the world, and to know they can make a difference,” she said.
(Fort Frances Times)