A New Perspective on Community – Meet Wendy Martin

Unama鈥檏i College offers a unique opportunity for Indigenous students to pursue post-secondary education in their own communities while applying their learnings as they go. One student who has been thriving in the In-Community Program is Wendy Martin, a Bachelor of Arts聽 Community Studies student in her final year, who studies in her own community of Gesgapegiag, Quebec.聽

Since 2011, Wendy has had the honour of working for the in various roles and says throughout all aspects of her life, her family and community come first. It was this passion that drove her to enroll in the BACS In-Community Programming at CBU. Since joining this program, Wendy says her perspective on community service has undergone a significant shift. 鈥淚t has ignited a newfound passion within me, driving me to pursue a career change dedicated to serving my community,鈥 says Wendy. One of the aspects that excites Wendy the most is the opportunity to learn from both elders and youth, who have such uniquely differing perspectives to offer. 鈥淐ollaborating with elders allows me to learn from their wisdom and cultural heritage, while collaborating with youth injects energy and fresh ideas into our initiatives,鈥 she shares.

Wendy learned about Unama鈥檏i College鈥檚 In-Community program through mutual friends who were already enrolled. Upon discovering the program was being offered in her own community, she saw it as a sign and decided to pursue the opportunity. 鈥淐hoosing this program was a personal challenge for me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve anything I set my mind to,鈥 says Wendy. 鈥淭he combination of personal growth and community connection made the In-Community program the perfect choice for me.鈥

The program offers Wendy the unique opportunity to learn in a familiar environment while making a positive impact. The part that connected with her the most was the flexibility in the program鈥檚 scheduling. 鈥淥ur classes are typically scheduled three times a week, either in person or on virtual platforms like Teams, allowing for flexibility to accommodate our various commitments such as work and family time,鈥 Wendy says. 鈥淭his flexible approach allows me to balance my studies with work, family and other responsibilities, making it possible for me to further my education without sacrificing other important aspects of my life.鈥

In addition to attending classes, working on projects, studying and the myriad of other things every student has to contend with, students in the In-Community program also participate in volunteer work. 鈥淭his firsthand experience allows us to apply our learning in real-life situations, whether it is assisting with community events, supporting local initiatives or engaging in service projects that address community needs,鈥 says Wendy. 鈥淭his ensures a well-rounded learning experience that integrates theory with practical application in our daily lives.鈥澛

The ability to learn and work in her home community has meant so much to Wendy. 鈥淪tudying in Gesgapegiag is like learning to cook in your own kitchen instead of just reading recipes in a cookbook,鈥 she says. 鈥淏eing part of the community gives me the chance to practice as I learn. It鈥檚 like tasting the food as you cook it 鈥 you get to understand the flavours and ingredients better.鈥

The support she receives from all around her is truly what drives Wendy to succeed. 鈥淭he support I have received from various sources including colleagues, family and friends, has been instrumental in my success,鈥 she says. 鈥淭heir support has given me the confidence and motivation to pursue my educational goals, and I am immensely grateful for their unwavering encouragement.鈥

So far, Wendy鈥檚 favourite part about the program has been building relationships with her classmates, as she has formed numerous close friendships throughout their shared journey. She looks forward to the rewarding experience of being able to graduate alongside them soon.

Wendy wants other students to understand the importance of self-belief and support from others during challenging times. 鈥淣o matter what obstacles we face, having confidence in ourselves and knowing that we have the support of our peers and loved ones can make all the difference,鈥 she says. 鈥淚t is essential to remember that we are not alone in our journey, and together, we can overcome any adversity.鈥