When Sandra Whitten started at the Discovery Centre, she was already the mother of 10 children, grandmother of 23, and great-grandmother of two. Time went by very quickly as she was busy raising such a large family and, before she knew it, the children had grown and were raising families of their own.
On September 6th, 2006 the unthinkable happened: sadly, Sandra’s husband of 35 years passed away with complications from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
She was devastated, alone, and in the depths of depression. Nothing in this world matters or makes sense anymore, she thought. Sandra says that “The only thing that got me through this terrible time was the love and support of my wonderful family.”
With her life at a standstill, she knew she had to do something. Hearing an advertisement about the Discovery Centre’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) program, she decided to give it a try, and realize her lifelong dream of graduating from Grade 12.
Sandra admits that going back to school in your 50s can be a nerve-wracking experience. “It took willpower, determination, and most of all, guts.”
On the morning of October 9th, 2009, she started her first day of school. Her hand trembled as she opened the door to the Discovery Centre. But the excellent, knowledgeable, and caring staff soon put her fears at ease, and in a short time Sandra felt accepted and part of the class. Looking back, she says, “It was the best decision I have ever made for myself.”
Working very hard, she acquired the 25 credits needed in 11 months. “Nothing in this world could ever compare to the feeling of accomplishment and pride that I felt when I was handed my Grade 12 Diploma!”
Driving home that day, tears of joy poured from Sandra’s eyes, and she knew in her heart that her husband would have been so proud of her if he had still been with her. The next evening, her family had a surprise graduation party – she was so happy!
The future seemed a lot brighter for Sandra, and she gained employment with Eastern Health just three months after graduation.
Sandra says it is never too late to return to school. “If I can do it, anyone can, so take that most important first step and open the door to your future at the Discovery Centre. The only one stopping you is you!”