Maria McKay


Dedicated Student Turns A Layoff Into A Career Pivot

Maria McKay is a role model as she works towards her accounting major.

Maria McKay had been lucky. When she was working as a receptionist at a construction company from 2007 to 2016, she learned accounting on the job. However, when she was laid off from that company because of economic instability, she wasn’t finding another job. She knew the fact that she had no education in accounting wasn’t helping her. 

Maria went to an employment agency called Aboriginal Futures for guidance, where she met her career counsellor, Jack. She wanted to find a new job, but Jack encouraged her to go back to school. He sent her to the Office of the Registrar at Bow Valley College. “I was there within the hour,” says Maria. 

Maria wanted to continue working in accounting. “I was never bored,” she says of her previous job. 

Once she was introduced to the College, she completed the Bow Valley College Admissions Test to determine her suitability for the Business Administration Diploma – Accounting Major. Unfortunately, the results showed she needed to upgrade her math skills before she could be considered for the program. 

So in Spring 2017, she started Aboriginal Upgrading. Maria began with Basic Math 3, which is roughly equivalent to Grade 8 Mathematics. Five terms later, she had completed English Language Arts 30-1 and Mathematics 30-2. 

Her Aboriginal Upgrading instructors say Maria was a great student, attending every day, working hard, and helping others as a peer tutor. Bruce McKay, who taught Maria Aboriginal Studies, says “Maria has been a great student in our program and serves as an inspirational role-model for other students.” 

Maria is grateful for all the support available to Indigenous students at the College, like the Iniikokaan Centre. She has also taken advantage of Learner Success Services as well as the Child Care Bursary and other emergency funding. 

In Winter 2019, Maria started her accounting major. When asked what motivates her to work hard, she answers her it’s daughters Mila, who is 13, and Aubrey, who is 5. In addition to being a mother and in school, Maria has a part-time job at U-Haul. She says these commitments make it more challenging yet a lot more gratifying when she tackles her courses, one after another. 

If you’re an Indigenous student and need to upgrade some high school courses to further your education, visit our Aboriginal Upgrading page to start learning.    

Posted on October 31, 2019

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