January 28, 2014 - 6:00am

Gillian Coy is living proof that it’s never too late to launch a career change.

Graduating with a Master of Education in Special Education from Vancouver Island University (VIU), Coy represented classmates as valedictorian at the winter convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.

“I was deeply honoured to serve as class valedictorian again,” says Coy, who also served as valedictorian when graduating from VIU’s Bachelor of Education post-degree program in 2010.

A full-time Learning Support teacher at Shawnigan Lake School in Cowichan, Coy wanted to pursue teaching ever since she was a teenager. However, her initial career choice led down a different path.

Coy began working as a dental assistant at age 18, right after high school, and continued to work while completing her undergraduate degree. She completed a dental hygiene diploma in 1995, and worked in the dental industry for several more years.

At age 45, Coy could no longer resist an urge for a career change.

“I wanted to become a teacher because I can think of no other profession where you truly give of yourself for the betterment of tomorrow’s citizens,” says Coy.
With excitement and some trepidation, Coy returned to school as a mature student. Graduating with top marks from VIU’s year-and-a-half teacher training program, she was a model student.

She made the Dean’s list three years in a row, won bursaries and, to cap it off, landed a job as a rowing coach and tutor at Shawnigan Lake School immediately after graduation. Coy quickly moved into a full-time position as a Learning Support teacher.

Four years later, Coy felt the time was right to complete a Master’s degree and was thrilled to discover she could complete it at VIU’s Nanaimo campus.

"The Master in Education for Special Education program was amazing,” says Coy. “I learned so much, and now have new skills that I use every day. My work in the program has truly taken my career to a whole new level. It was wonderful to be able to complete my Master’s right here on Vancouver Island.”

Coy’s message to classmates will be similar to what she delivered in 2010 – it’s never too late to return to school.

“It takes hard work, courage and determination, but anyone can do it,” she says. “Follow your passion. There are few limits in life that can’t be overcome if you truly believe in your dreams.”


Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @VIUNews

Tags: In the Community

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