After a decade working in the kitchen of a Prince George restaurant, Holly West could feel her passion for the culinary arts was beginning to fade.
On top of that, the split shift rotation often afforded to cooks was also weighing on the single mother of three.
“It was hard to raise my kids like that,” Holly said. “I knew I needed a change in my life that would work better for my family.”
In 2012, at the age of 28, she exchanged her chef’s hat for a College of New Caledonia (CNC) student card. Holly had ambitions of becoming a business owner but needed to upgrade her math and English before enrolling in CNC’s Business Administration Certificate.
Following a successful completion of the certificate, Holly discovered she had a knack for accounting and quickly changed the direction her education was taking her. Two years later, she graduated from CNC with a diploma in accounting and finance.
Though she continued on to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting ‘up the hill’ at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Holly attributes her overall success to the strong foundation she gained at CNC.
“I got a lot of my accounting groundwork at CNC,” she said. “The instructors really help you understand the concepts. I’m glad I started here.”
Much of her time at CNC was spent studying at the College’s Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC).
This habit continued past graduation as Holly could often be found at the ARC studying for her UNBC classes.
“Everyone at the ARC is very welcoming, which is why I always went back,” she said.
Holly is a member of the Takla Lake First Nation but is not fluent in the language of her people.
The ARC brought a cultural element to her education, which she embraced by volunteering at every event and potluck she possibly could.
This opportunity extended to her children who were able to speak and learn from elders fluent in the Carrier language. Her oldest daughter was inspired to learn her traditional language and is even developing an app for the Carrier language.
“I'm really proud of her,” Holly said. “She'll help a lot of people who don't have many interactions with elders.”