“It’s a big relief,” says Amelia. “I never thought I’d see the day that I’m finished university.”
Long-time friend of the Neil Squire Society, Amelia, is overjoyed to receive her Bachelor of Arts (new window) in Environmental Geography (new window) from Simon Fraser University (new window) (SFU), after years of hard work. And with distinction too — she was awarded the Peter Schaub Memorial Book Prize (new window).
Amelia first came to the Society to take part in the Employ-Ability program (now called the Working Together program) and the Computer Comfort program in 2011. She has osteogenesis imperfecta (new window), a genetic bone disorder, and deals with mobility and pain issues. She is also a brain cancer (new window) survivor.
At the time a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (new window), Amelia was unsure what career path she wanted to follow. She had always had a passion for mapping, and found out about geographic information systems (new window) (GIS), essentially digital mapping that integrates computer imaging, data collection and analysis.
“I like geography, environment and nature stuff, and I wanted to do something in that but I didn’t know what, but I found GIS was really good for my situation, being in a wheelchair, because you just have to be on the computer, and I’m pretty good on the computer, I’m pretty good on programs and I catch on pretty quick.”
For this line of studies, however, she had transfer to SFU, and had to work hard to raise her GPA to transfer.
“It was pretty difficult,” she explains. “But I really wanted to go to SFU, and I think I felt more motivated because now I knew what I wanted to do.”
Her newfound passion wasn’t just limited to academics. Amelia became an active member of the Geography Student Union (GSU), first at Kwantlen, then at SFU, performing administrative duties. The GSU field trips — some of which she helped plan — to Princeton, Osoyoos, and the Okanagan are some of her fondest memories at SFU.
Now, she is looking for work as a GIS technician, and currently working part time in human resources (new window) at the BC Partners in Workforce Innovation (new window), which helps employers hire people with disabilities. She also volunteers as a nature guide for Surrey Parks, Recreation and Culture (new window).
“It helped me discover what I wanted to do,” Amelia says, looking back at her time in the Neil Squire Society. “[Then] I kind of put the pieces together.”
Read Amelia’s original success story from 2011 here.