Leap of faith pays off for VIU graduate

February 13, 2012 - 2:15am

The courage to take “a giant leap of faith” paid off for Vancouver Island University Education graduate Evelyne St-Arnaud.

St-Arnaud, class valedictorian at VIU’s recent convocation ceremony, is enjoying a new career at age 48 after returning to school as a mature student.

A month after completing her course-work in VIU’s intense post-baccalaureate degree Education program, St-Arnaud landed a part-time job as a French immersion teacher at Hammond Bay Elementary school in Nanaimo.

“I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “My dream has come true.”

Born in Quebec, St-Arnaud moved with her family to North Vancouver at age 11. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Criminology straight after high school, then married and began raising a family.

St. Arnaud worked at a large benefits firm for five years, but when expecting her second child in 1995, she decided to become a full-time mom.

“My husband and I both quit our jobs, sold the house, packed up our family, and bought an acreage in Yellowpoint on Vancouver Island,” she said. “It was a leap of faith. We believed everything would work out and it did.”

St-Arnaud remained home for 10 years, raising three children. When the youngest started school, she re-entered the workforce as a part-time Education Assistant with the Francophone Program in Nanaimo.

“I loved my job but after eight years, I wanted something more. I dreamed of becoming a teacher.”

St-Arnaud upgraded her education through online courses, and was accepted into VIU’s teacher training program.

“It’s an intense one-and-a-half-year program but thanks to the support of a wonderful husband and my kids, I did it,” she said. “My husband runs his own company so he was able to adjust his schedule to fit mine. We knew it was only for three semesters so it was a short-term sacrifice.”

St-Arnaud’s delivers a simple message to others who may be thinking about launching a career change – follow your dream.
“I’m so happy I did it,” she said. “Going back to school helped me find myself again. If you have a passion and dream go for it. It’s doable and rewarding.”


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