By Minal Abhange
The ability to be independent, with an exceptionally positive outlook on life, is something not everyone possesses.
Upon meeting Brandi Leriche of Cape Ray, that’s the first thing you will notice. Her positivity resonates, and makes her a role model – not just for her kids, but everyone who is determined to do better and to dream bigger.
“No matter how hard life seemed for me and my family, I always looked on the positive end. When something went wrong, I would always just look on with a smile. The reason behind it will always seems like a mystery, but I believe that it is because of the strength I got from my kids,” she says.
“Success didn’t happen overnight. Although I was strong, I did not have the financial means to care for us. I needed to cut wood to keep my kids warm. I had to work two jobs to pay bills. I was very blessed to have my family by my side at every step.”
Making the transition to college is often a challenging experience, especially as a single parent. The task may seem impossible, but it didn’t stop Brandi. She juggled parenthood and two jobs to pursue an education.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re at in life, education is always a right and a career is always within reach. College can connect you to that career, and it’s up to you to choose when to make that connection,” she says. She learned about the Cabinetmaker program from a family member – an alumni who highly recommended the program.
Brandi’s instructors not only served as mentors, but also became her friends. “I loved my classes. My classmates were as helpful as my teachers,” she says. Brandi graduated from the Cabinetmaker program in 2015 with honours. She was recognized with the Canadian Home Association Award and the President’s Medal of Excellence. Thinking back, she also realizes she wouldn’t have achieved what she did without the help of the college’s Student Emergency Fund.
“I was very hesitant in the beginning when I found out about the Student Emergency Fund through my counsellor. It’s actually a great encouragement to help you keep going forward. The Student Emergency Fund has played a vital role in my success. I received financial help, which helped me pay a few bills and support my family. My life was instantly transformed. I was spending more time at school and with my kids. I cut down on the extra work shifts. Today, I am thankful for moving through the hard parts to a better place.”
Brandi’s hard work paid off both academically and personally.
“I won the Canadian Home Association Award, I graduated top of my class. I received the President’s Medal of Excellence. This was not just a learning experience for me, it taught my kids a lesson too. If something hard comes into your life, you don’t give up. You keep pushing forward until you’ve got that challenge conquered.”
After graduation, she says her life has become more focused on herself and her family.
“I am in the gym every day. I spend a lot of time with my kids. For my future goals, I am looking to complete an apprenticeship and prepare for the Red Seal exam,” she says. “This has been a transformation for my family. I am teaching my kids if you want to be somebody you have to work hard for it, and nothing is going to be handed to you.”
For more information on the Cabinetmaker program visit www.cna.nl.ca.