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Reaping the rewards

Kevin McCormack finds an interest in education at Bow Valley College.

When Kevin McCormack got his mark on his first exam at Bow Valley College, he had scored 100%. Not bad for someone who didn’t make it through high school on the first go-around. 

Kevin has schizo-affective disorder, a chronic mental health condition which produces symptoms of schizophrenia. He experiences his condition through mood shifts, auditory hallucinations, and difficulty sleeping. He came to Bow Valley College in 2014 after being out of school for about a decade and enrolled in Academic Upgrading courses within the School of Foundational Learning, starting with Basic Math 1.

Through testing Kevin had previously done, his math skills were determined to be at a Grade 6 level. “I decided I would try to attack my math courses,” he says in reaction to that news. That was the subject where he earned a perfect score in that first exam. Of that success, he says he had found an interest in education when prior, he didn’t have one. “It was very rewarding. And I thought, I was capable. And I am capable.” 

Kevin continued on to Basic Math 2, Basic Math 3, Prep Math 10, Mathematics 10 C, Reading 5, Writing 5, English 10-2, English 20-1, and English 30-1. He got his General Education Development (GED) as well as his Mental Health First Aid Certificate, the latter of which he says is the most fun he’s ever had. Throughout his studies at the College, Kevin utilized a number of student resources including tutoring, which helped him be successful in math, and counselling, which he says was pivotal in his success in education. He had been suffering from the effects of past trauma, and his counsellor introduced him to tapping, a technique that helped him relieve some of that trauma. 

Kevin has to make regular hospital visits due to his condition. During one of those visits, before he had started at the College, he had asked his friend to bring him a small notepad so he could journal. Instead, she arrived with a very large notebook. So, Kevin was inspired to fill its pages and journaled in over 500 of them. He decided to put some of those thoughts toward writing a book. He needed to improve his spelling and grammar first, and put his faith in Bow Valley College to help him get there. 

In this area too, he was extremely satisfied. “Bow Valley College exceeded my expectations in accommodation and general care by the teachers,” he says. Recently, with the assistance of Momentum — an organization that gives low-income individuals the tools to reach their aspirations — Kevin released Grandiose Ideas and Psychiatric Units, a memoir on his experience dealing with schizo-affective disorder. He devoted a chapter of the book to Bow Valley College. “I understand the lineups at the Registrar [at the College] are long,” he says in an interview, “but it’s worth the wait. 110%.”

To learn more about the School of Foundational Learning, visit the School page. 

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Posted on June 4, 2018

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