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Defining Direction

Defining Direction

By Minal Abhange

Do you think your 13-year-old child would be ready for college?

Not many parents face this dilemma; however, for Elliott Blackmore’s parents, the prospect was not only met with excitement and mixed feelings, they believe it was an amazing opportunity.

“At first we were really nervous, as our 13-year-old was getting ready to do things we did when we were 17 and 18 years old,” says Ben Blackmore, Elliott’s father. “However, Elliott was not fitting in the conventional school setting. After trying and testing a few other conventional routes, College of the North Atlantic (CNA) seemed like a great fit and we had never dreamt of the support we got; Elliott loves the whole experience.”

Born in Toronto, ON, Elliott moved to Grand Falls-Windsor, NL at a very young age, where they live with their mom, dad, brother and two dogs. Among some of the things Elliott enjoys is competitive Pokémon battling and reading Shakespeare in their spare time. They are also an artist who draws both digitally and traditionally, and a writer and has won several poetry prizes.

College Journey

Elliott was homeschooled and has also been a part of both public and private schools in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before becoming a student at CNA.

Elliott says, “Finding my way to CNA has been a rare circumstance; yet everyone is really very supportive and the whole experience has been amazing. I am looking forward to graduating soon and exploring other options to further my education.”

In comparison to the peers at CNA, there is a noticeable age difference; however, this does not stop Elliott. In fact, it motivates them to strive harder for success.

“Taking classes with people older than me – that was really a challenge in mind that was kind of an obstacle I had to overcome. I do not let that affect my social life with peers or how I work through it. My focus has been getting a better education. I don’t mind going to class with older peers. I am doing pretty well at my courses,” they said.

Sharing more about the courses Elliott says, “I wanted to pursue economics, since I do not have prerequisites like math, science; I chose Introduction to Business and Introduction to Sociology. I find the curriculum very educational, and I have had a great time learning both courses.”

Mensa Experience

Among their many success stories, Elliott is also a member of Mensa – a group that, according to the website, “welcomes people from every walk of life with IQs in the top two percent of the population.”

On joining Mensa at the age of 12, Elliott says, “My parents noticed I was different in many ways, so I applied to Mensa. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much with Mensa as I live in Newfoundland and the resources (for this) are very limited in comparison to Toronto or other provinces in Canada.” 

Entrepreneur

Apart from being the youngest student at CNA, Elliot is also a successful entrepreneur for over three years and an avid computer coder who knows three coding languages – Scratch, Python, and Lego Mindstorms – and is learning more.

Elliot started the business Ignite the Spark Coding out of their home, as a hobby to learn computer coding at the age of 10; now it’s focused on teaching other kids.

“My parents bought me two coding books and a laptop for Christmas. I did not end up using the books much – the website that the books were based on was very helpful in facilitating me learn how to code,” Elliott says.

“The first language I learned was Scratch, created by a group of computer programmers out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It’s a program mostly for kids, but really it’s for all ages. It uses a drag and drop platform used for a project (which can be anywhere from stories, video games to animations), and the second language I learned was Python.

“At first I found it really difficult as I had no one to teach and I self-taught myself how to code, now I share the knowledge I have gained with other kids. Since not all kids have the same opportunities as me. I connect with kids interested in coding through a Facebook ad and with the help of online sessions, I conduct 30-minute coding classes for a group of kids every Wednesday afternoon and it’s fun.”

After joining CNA, life became more focused, Elliott says.

“I do not have any firm plans, as plans always change over time and circumstances. Last year I did not even dream of getting in college, and here I am. Who knows what the next year has in store for me? For my future goals, I am looking forward to graduate from CNA and join Memorial University and further my academic journey.”

For more information on the programs offered at CNA, visit www.cna.nl.ca.

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