Mature student inspires better life

Fort St. James resident Jeremiah Free is not your typical student.

Jeremiah Free is seen in the College of New Caledonia's auto workshop.

Fort St. James – Knowing what course to take in college can be a tough decision, especially when it’s been 20 years since high school.

Successfully proving it can be done, Fort St. James resident Jeremiah Free, 39, is now on his way to becoming a certified mechanic after taking the 28-week Access to Trades program at the College of New Caledonia’s Fort St. James campus.

“He is a dedicated and motivated student who has seized the opportunity for upgrading. As a role model for the school he has not only met requirements, but is exceeding them,” said Anne McCormick, the director of the Fort St. James campus for the College of New Caledonia.

Professors and colleagues alike have recognized his commitment, and so has Indspire, a large supporter of indigenous education in Canada, who recently awarded him a special grant for all his hard work.

However it wasn’t too long ago Mr. Free didn’t even know where to start.

“I hadn’t even been on a computer since high school,” said Mr. Free.

That’s when he heard about the Access to Trades program, which consists of in-class learning in reading, writing and math, as well as hands-on learning for various trades. Course participants are also granted numerous certificates throughout the duration of the program including, first aid, power saw and H2S safety training.

“I would recommend the course to anybody who hasn’t been in school for a while because it points you in the right direction so you can figure out which road you should take,” said Mr. Free.

Within the same week of completing the course, Mr. Free jumped right into a heavy-duty mechanics program also offered at the College of New Caledonia.

“I actually kind of fell into it. Most of us weren’t sure what we wanted to get into. [Heavy duty mechanics] is a hard course but I wanted to see if I could do it,” said Mr. Free.

Mr. Free is now on track to graduating next month and will then have two post-secondary courses under his belt.