Rebecca Begg had 167 placements as a child in care by the time she was 17. So, who better, she reckons, to help troubled kids get their lives on track.
The 29-year-old Begg is the first Red River College grad to go through the joint child and youth care certificate program offered by RRC and the Ndinawe community social program and then earn Red River's child and youth care diploma.
She's among 1,502 graduates for the spring convocation being held Wednesday and today, including 818 diploma and advanced diploma grads, and 684 graduates who've earned certificates.
"I went through 167 placements when I was growing up -- foster homes, group homes, emergency shelters. I had no idea of who I was," said Begg, who's already landed a job with New Directions.
"I sold a lot of drugs. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks," Begg said. "I've lived in the North End of the city my entire life. (Now) I live right around the corner from where everything went south for me."
Begg never got past Grade 10, but Ndinawe prepared her for college, she explained. "I read and write at a university level, so I passed with flying colours," said Begg, who had an overall GPA of 3.95.
She got into Ndinawe through a women's support group at Klinic.
Her husband had died under circumstances still too painful for Begg to discuss, leaving her with two children. But family members stepped in to help, allowing her to go to school.
"I just know I wanted to make a difference in the system, as a product of the system," Begg said. "I did rehab, I had many addiction issues, I had a lot of counselling."
She's happy working at New Directions, and although Begg might check out whether she can transfer her credits towards a social work degree, she's eager to be on the front lines.
"I grew up in care and I came across many workers who didn't have their hearts in the job.
"I wanted to be a worker who related to kids," Begg declared.
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Winnipeg's gain, solar system's loss
A geology grad more interested in Mars than Earth, bus driver, techno wizard able to translate computer into lay English.
And did we mention Sarah Brannan also met her future husband online, a guy who lived in someplace named Winnipeg, of which she'd never heard in far-off Ohio?
"I didn't even know where it was," laughed Brannan, who's graduating from Red River College in technical communication.
"We met (in a chat room) through some mutual friends. We talked almost two years before I moved to Winnipeg (in 2001)," Brannan said.
She's known others who met the same way, but, "Moving to another country, maybe not so much."
Brannan graduated from Kent State University with a geology degree in 1997, hoping for a career in academia specializing in the geology of other planets -- a somewhat limited field, she acknowledged.
"I was out of money and enthusiasm for the whole thing," so Brannan took a call centre job for a while, then enrolled at Red River.
"Technical communication caught my eye," she said. "They write manuals, web copy... the actual manual that gets sent home to customers.
"It's taking the technical information and making it understandable to someone who's not technical," she explained in straightforward, non-technical language.
Now looking for work, Brannan thinks she'd be a natural in the transportation field. "I put myself through university as a bus driver -- I drove transit, tour buses," Kent State's version of handi-transit. "I was a dispatcher, the manager of scheduling," she said.
GOLD MEDAL RECIPIENTS
Shawna Huber -- Aboriginal language specialist
Angie Ann Perkins -- Aboriginal self-government administration
Mark Adam McLaughlin -- Aircraft maintenance engineer
Erica Weselowski -- American Sign Language, English interpretation
Jaimie Theresa Collignon -- Animal health technology
Kyle Andrew Clinton -- Aviation management
Kailee Amanda Cartman -- Business administration
Maura J. Nelson -- Chemical and biosciences technology
Karalee Koop -- Child and youth care
Tanner John Paul Jangula -- Civil technology (municipal)
Colleen J. Hrabi -- Community development/economic development
Patrick Cosyns -- Computer analyst/programmer
Samantha Dumas -- Computer applications for business
Jason James Booth -- Creative communications
Bradford Marshall Gyselman -- Digital multimedia technology
Theressa Dawn Schroeder -- Disability and community support
Marjorie Ellen Niemi -- Early childhood education
Paul Buccini -- Graphic design
Leah Breland -- Greenspace management
Johnson Felix Fernandez -- Health information management
Joshua Benjamin Grand -- Information systems technology (database)
Michael Walter Herbert Ryan -- Network technology (CCNP)
Kyle Robert McDowell -- Power engineering technology
Sarah Kathryn Brannan -- Technical communication