Life

Back-up plan turns into a passion for student

Submitted

Lakehead student Darin and baby Rose, who has been attending Lakehead with her mom since she was four days old – and a lot smaller than she looks here at the age of eight weeks. SUBMITTED

Lakehead student Darin and baby Rose, who has been attending Lakehead with her mom since she was four days old – and a lot smaller than she looks here at the age of eight weeks. SUBMITTED

On the first day of classes of the 2016 fall semester at Lakehead Orillia, students in Dr. Herman van den Berg's Introduction to Finance class were surprised to see one of their classmates attending class along with her four-day-old baby, Rose.

"I thought, this must have been a first," said van den Berg, "and Rose most definitely has broken the record for the youngest person attending any of my classes!"

Rose's mom, Darin Tjeerdsma, is a part-time student who has been inconspicuously attending Lakehead for the past four years to attain her Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree.

With a newborn in tow, she found that she attracted more attention than usual, but has been pleasantly surprised at the support she has received from both her professors and classmates.

Tjeerdsma, who lives in Warminster, decided four years ago that she needed a "back-up" plan for her career as a full-time Primary Care Paramedic with the County of Simcoe.

"Only four per cent of us [paramedics] retire on the road," explained Tjeerdsma. "The rate of injury is very high, with years of lifting taking its toll."

Although her background was medically focused - Tjeerdmsa has a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology and Physiology degree from Western University, in addition to her Georgian College Paramedic diploma - she decided to give business a try.

"I was apprehensive about business, but knew it would be beneficial for many opportunities with the county, " said Tjeerdmsa. Within her first semester of the program, she discovered that she was "absolutely loving it."

Tjeerdmsa said she immediately discovered how practical the study of business was, including the finance and numbers aspect as well as the theory. "Management theory is so fascinating. I was able to see immediately how it does or could apply to the management practices in my job. "

"Darin is one of the most focused students I have, and her marks are at the top of the class," said van den Berg.

When asked how she manages to be such a successful student, while having the responsibility of a new baby, plus a toddler at home, and maintaining her full-time job, she says it's all due to the support systems she has, at home, and on campus.

"My husband and my mom are very supportive, and at school, it's not only my professors who are flexible and accommodating, but my fellow students as well."

With small class sizes, she says her classmates have been very understanding and patient. "One student even told me that I was motivation for him. He said, "whatever I have going on, I look at you and you still show up to class with your baby!'"

Tjeerdmsa also realizes that she is fortunate to have the Lakehead campus close to home. "It's easy to schedule around my work and family. I certainly couldn't accomplish this if I had to drive to Toronto or elsewhere."

Tjeerdmsa is looking forward to going back to her full-time paramedic work next September, following her maternity leave, and will continue to complete her business degree at Lakehead on a part-time basis.



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