When the local Zellers closed, things looked pretty bleak to sisters Lynda Hicks and Margaret Pettigrew.
It was 2012 and retail was all they’d ever known. The department store had been their livelihood and the sisters’ options seemed limited.
Lynda always wanted to help others for a living but when she got pregnant at 18, the doors seemed to swing shut. A few years later she had three small children underfoot and a military spouse. The idea of furthering her education seemed impossible.
Margaret felt equally stymied. She left school so young that she hadn’t even encountered fractions.
After working in retail for decades, Zellers closed. It gave the sisters the push to return to school in their 50s, enrolling in NSCC’s Continuing Care Link program.
Today they have a huge sense of accomplishment. Margaret loves inspiring her teenage grandson. He’s not crazy about school but he has learned from his grandma that many doors are closed without Grade 12.
The Cumberland County sisters now spend their days helping seniors, in their new careers as Continuing Care Assistants.
“I love listening to the stories that they tell you. I love all of that. And I would hope that if anything ever happened to me, I would have somebody nice looking after me,” says Margaret.
The transition wasn’t easy.
With her Grade 8 education, Margaret found the math so difficult she almost quit CCA Link. She credits her tutors, classmates and faculty with keeping her motivated to stay.
“The support was just phenomenal,” echoes Lynda, who turns 60 in September.
The sisters agree that if their decision can inspire just one other person to stay in school, it was worth it.
“If you’re thinking about it,” advises Margaret, “just stop thinking and do it.”