Scholarship helps NIC student and single mother create a career

NIC student and scholarship award winner Tiffany Dawn celebrated her scholarship with a steamed milk at her favourite local coffee shop in Campbell River – a celebration tradition she often shares with her children.

An unexpected phone call in her driveway has allowed NIC student Tiffany Dawn to carry on creating a career to support her family.

A single mother of two who studied mostly online, Dawn recently received news that she is the recipient of a four-year $44,000 scholarship from Beedie Luminaries.

“I had just parked in my driveway, with my daughter and the groceries, when the woman from Beedie Luminaries called to say that she had one last question for me: Could I explain what I would do to celebrate if I had good news,” said Dawn. “I explained how my kids and I normally celebrate together by going to a local coffee shop to play board games together and share steamed milks. She then told me I had better plan to do those things today, as I was chosen as a recipient for the award. I honestly struggled to keep from crying.”

A month prior, Dawn applied for the Single Parent Award for Resilience and Knowledge (SPARK) scholarship from Beedie Luminaries at the urging of her NIC advisor. A few weeks later, she moved on to the interview stage, where she was interviewed by two reviewers and learned the program offered more than scholarship money.

“SPARK offers mentors and student advisors—it’s a whole program. There’s an online community and we have an online chat once a month with advisors and other recipients about challenges and school and whatever is on our minds,” explained Dawn. “While my program at NIC has been amazing, with really supportive instructors, it’s great to also have SPARK’s support network and that I’ll be matched with a mentor in my field through them too.”

The support, financial and otherwise, really means a lot for Dawn, especially since her past experiences haven’t been very positive. “I realize that in high school I faced a lot of criticism because I was struggling and didn’t have the support I needed. I’ve basically grown up consistently feeling that I wasn’t good enough,” said Dawn. On her 40th birthday, though, when Dawn was explaining to a friend that she didn’t know if she could pay her rent, her friend encouraged her to consider going back to school to develop a career for herself.

“I’ve worked jobs, but I haven’t had a career. I really focused on staying home and raising the kids, and now I’m doing it mostly full time on my own, so I’ve never had the opportunity to have something that’s solely mine,” said Dawn. “Without childcare and more financial resources to pay for childcare, online courses were really the only option I could consider.”

Dawn found two online courses on NIC’s website that were of interest, and her friend also generously volunteered to care for her children so that she could take one in-person course. With the help of an NIC advisor, Dawn realized that the courses she had chosen had started her towards a diploma in Communication Design. By the time she realized this though, she was already two weeks into the Fall term, so she had to ask for special permission from her instructors to join the program and catch up on missed work.

“My advisor was worried about me starting late and having to catch up on all the work, but I knew what I was getting into—I just felt I had to get going right away,” said Dawn. “Working hard doesn’t scare me; not keeping a roof over my children’s heads scares me.”

Dawn’s determination and dedication has paid off: from making the Dean’s list, to being chosen for the SPARK scholarship, and even working as a summer student on a website project for NIC’s Digital Design and Development department.

She is entering the second year of what will be a three-year program for her, as she’s taking fewer courses per term to balance parenting and schoolwork. “Now I’m working towards a career path that I really love, and my kids are watching me do all of this—that makes it all even better,” said Dawn.

For more information on the Digital Design and Development Programs at NIC visit:

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