Though this academic year has been unlike any other, for some students, returning to Lakeland College was the support they needed during these unprecedented times.
Both Kyla Millard and Zoe Quinney graduated from health and wellness programs
last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced their programs to go digital at the end of term. The changes they experienced due to the pandemic were contributing factors to deciding to return to Lakeland this year to take another health and wellness program.
Last year, Millard, from Livelong, Sask., was inspired to enrol in the hairstyling program
by her mother.
“My mom does nails and things like that and I’ve always loved her creativity,” she explains. “I love making people feel pretty. It has such a big impact on them when they feel beautiful and have the confidence to go out in the world.”
Though her on-campus experience ended prematurely in spring 2020, Millard still found the experience inspiring and supportive.
“At the end of term, when everything happened with the pandemic it was hard to get used to classes going online, but the teachers made it work,” she says. “Even though it was a big adjustment, the instructors inspire me.”
After she completed the hairstyling program, Millard decided to return to Lakeland and enrol in the new clinical esthetician program
, which she is currently in.
“We’re in weird times right now and the more skills you have under your belt, the more you can branch out and find a job,” she says of her decision to come back. “So I thought, why not?”
A positive perspective
Though this term looks different than last year, in some ways, Millard says, the changes are positive. It all depends on your perspective.
“It’s been hard but it’s so great to still have that hands-on experience of being on campus,” she says. “It’s different, but in some ways, it’s better. You have more focus. You have more one-on-one time with the instructors. There aren’t as many people in each lab so you have more time to really practice.”
A key aspect that ensured her success at Lakeland, according to Millard, is access to Lakeland’s student support resources along the way.
“The support I got at Lakeland last year was amazing,” Millard says. “I received help with a disability and my grades improved so much from when I was in high school. I saw the counsellor and she helped me through everything that I was going through with meditation and finding out who I am. That’s had a huge impact on my life. I just hope that everybody is taking advantage of the extra help that’s offered here, whether it’s tutoring or counselling. If you are struggling, you should absolutely use the amazing supports that Lakeland offers.”
A supportive community
Quinney, from Frog Lake, Alta., took the esthetician program last year and has returned this year for hairstyling. She’s found the same impactful support from Lakeland’s wellness services. She also developed a supportive social circle that she felt was important, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Making friends here has been so important,” Quinney explains. “The pandemic has been really hard for everyone’s mental health but they make it so easy here. The instructors give us the support we need to keep going and it’s awesome to have the support system here at Lakeland.”
Her positive experience in the esthetician program and with Lakeland’s wellness supports gave her the confidence to return this year.
“I spoke with the wellness advisor and she gave me a lot of resources to reach out to, to get the help I needed for my mental health,” Quinney explains. “It all ended up working the way I needed it to. They’re always there for you.”
Though her experience this year is different due to the health and safety protocols in place due to the pandemic, Quinney is still enjoying her Lakeland experience and is grateful for the opportunity to continue to learn.
“It’s amazing that Lakeland is actually able to offer on-campus learning and hands-on activities,” she says. “It’s different than it was last year but the instructors work to make it as normal as possible. They are awesome, this whole experience has been unbelievable. I love everything about it.”
(Photos: Top - Zoe Quinney. Bottom - Kyla Millard, photo taken pre-pandemic)