Being born a First Nation female, Gabrielle Scimshaw had the odds stacked against her.
Statistically speaking, it was more likely that she would drop out of high school than finish, eight times more likely that she would commit suicide and three times more likely that she would be unemployed.
Those were among the statistics the first generation student speaker provided to the audience at the Algonquin Commons Theatre March 24.
About 22 per-cent of Algonquin students are registered as first generation, meaning that neither of their parents attended post-secondary education.
“For me, I never felt this pressure to go to school,” Scrimshaw told the crowd. “I think people from more intergenerational families where everybody has gone to school, it’s kind of expected of you to go to school. But for people who are first generation in your family, you might not always feel that pressure. If anything, you might actually get asked why are you going to school?”
She was scared of post-secondary school and didn’t know what was going to happen, but thought that she would at least give it a try.
“Like many people, I was unsure,” she said.
She decided she didn’t want to leave her life to fate and so enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan.
Scrimshaw asked students to remember a few things as they go ahead with life.
“The first thing is to find your motivation,” she said. “It will help you when the going gets tough, because I promise you it will.”
The second thing she explained is to seek support and mentorship.
“There are people in this college, there are people around you that are here to support you, but they don’t know that you need help unless you ask for it, so seek it out.”
Third thing to take a leap of faith. Scrimshaw said attending school is one leap but this is really just the beginning.
“School is a means to something else,” said Scrimshaw. “The world will reward you in ways you can never even fathom. But you have to be the person to step outside and take that first leap.”