I’m not too old yet, back then, and lucky enough, although I didn’t appreciate it then, to not really look my age. I look younger than 23, and even with 3 years of University behind me, and with 2 years before that of working full-time on and off as a swim instructor/lifeguard, and throughout the already many military moves with my high school boyfriend/husband, I’m not out of place in this college classroom. In a program called “Business Admin, Data Processing”. Years later, I would have to explain that meant “Computer Programming”, not data entry, but those future years were not imagined yet. Someone who introduced herself as Maya or Moira is sitting beside me in the 2-seater desk, as intent as the rest of us 30-some students, listening and watching a short female teacher, blazered and panted -how professional she looked! – write some sort of list on the blackboard.
“…and in your third year, these are the core courses ..” , scratching with the old-style white chalk on the blackboard (it was black, how modern – they used to all be green.)
“Maya (or Moira)”, I whispered and poked to my seatmate’s obvious annoyance, “What does she mean, ‘third year’?”
“What do you mean? She’s talking about the course requirements in third year!”
“But I’m not supposed to be in any 3-year program – just the 2 year one!”
This was Kingston, Ontario. 1981. My husband is about to start at Royal Military College, having applied within the military and been accepted. A great opportunity for him and his career. We had just arrived from Edmonton barely a week earlier, 3 years of my 4 year Recreation Administration degree at the University of Alberta now left unfinished. Despite my excellent grade point average there, Queen’s had no comparable program, and I had figured out there wasn’t much future in that field for a military wife leaving communities every 3 or so years anyway. So what was a “Systems Analyst”? She’s seen them advertised in the want ads for over 30 thousand a year – if she could ever make 30K a year, wow, that’s the goal! So down the street to St. Lawrence College, where those excellent grades assure her a last minute registration in whatever program can lead to such a job title.
So now, here I am.
Maya (or Moira) answers, “There’s no 2 year program. It’s 3 years long. Unless you mean the 12 month Junior Programmer course?”
No, that’s not what I mean. I’ll need to work over the summer. And this is not Alberta, with their 2 year College diplomas. It’s Ontario, who because of the old Grade 13 system, has to run the programs for 3 years for the Grade 12 grads. Great. I’ll be stuck at school for another 3 years before graduating with any hope for a good, 30 thousand dollar a year job. After 6 years of schooling, this had better be worth it. Why didn’t I become a doctor or lawyer!
Over 30 years later, I can finally smile at the memory of that time in that classroom. Now, in 2016, at my retirement from IT, I must admit, yes, it was worth it, and I’m glad I stumbled unknowingly into my long, successful, rewarding career! I admit I did eventually make 30 thousand dollars a year.