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Students Charlotte Nelson-King, left, her brother Hollister, Mario Marrelli, Jeremy Blake and Cynthia Harry, all members of the Accounting Mentorship Program for Aboriginal Students, got a new outlook on post-secondary education possibilities with help from mentors Michelle Swecera, Nanaimo school district aboriginal education resource coordinator, front centre, Nadine Chodl, MNP regional marketing assistant, centre back, and Megan McKenzie, MNP Nanaimo manager of aboriginal services.
— Image Credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
This article was originally published on the
Nanaimo News Bulletin and has been reproduced with permission.
Cynthia Harry, Jeremy Blake, Mario Marrelli, Charlotte Nelson-King and her brother Hollister have a few things in common: they’re all bright, motivated and a select group of high school students participating in the Accounting Mentorship Program for Aboriginal Students.
The program, run by MNP in Nanaimo since 2014, is part of the national Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, a charitable organization that employs programs and research to improve education outcomes for aboriginal Canadians.
The students work with MNP and school district staff one day each month during the school year to learn goal setting, conduct personality tests, play games that teach critical thinking, learn interviewing skills and meet young professionals who share their knowledge to help the students prepare for post-secondary education or focus their career goals.
“Originally this is an accounting mentorship program, but only one of us is going into accounting,” said Nelson-King, who wants to become a herbalist. “We’re getting guidance here and support and ideas for what to do in our future and how to prepare for our careers.”
Megan McKenzie, mentor coordinator who specializes in aboriginal services for MNP, said the goal isn’t to guide students into accounting, but develop skills to further their post-secondary educations.
“They partner the school district with an accounting firm, but we’re not necessarily persuading everyone to become an army of accountants,” McKenzie said.
Nelson-King’s brother Hollister is considering a career in the military. Marrelli wants to design fashions for people “born differently or struggle finding clothes.”
Marrelli and Harry, who’s debating over becoming a criminal lawyer or a psychologist, were both inspired by lawyers who came to speak during the program.
“Some of the career building and personality building for these kids has really helped them enjoy the program a little more, but also look within, so they know what their potentials are and their interests actually are when it comes to leaving high school,” said Michelle Swecera, Nanaimo school district resource coordinator for aboriginal education.
Blake is the first to graduate from the program and the only student who plans to become an accountant after switching his focus from engineering.
“I’m going to leave this place with plenty of connections,” Blake said. “I’ve learned many things, like less is better than more on a resume. I wouldn’t have thought that. I’ve come out with a lot from this program. It was a great experience and I wish I could do it again,” Blake said.
Contact Peter van Dongen, MNP’s Regional Marketing Manager for Vancouver Island & Northern BC, at
[email protected] or 250.734.4321.
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