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Part-time studies lead to rewarding careers

Starting a post-secondary education as an adult learner may seem daunting, but many keen students take on this challenge at NWCC and are rewarded with careers that they love.

Greg Mckay went back to school at 35 to upgrade his English, math, and computer skills. In 2009, he completed his upgrading courses through NWCC’s Career & College Preparation program at the Prince Rupert Campus. The next year Greg was accepted to NWCC’s one-of-a-kind Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program. 

Born and raised in Gitxaala, a Tsimshian island community of 500 people, Greg grew up by the ocean, spending lots of time on the beaches and in the local mountains. With his knowledge of this environment, he found himself drawn to the ACE program.

“What I enjoyed the most about NWCC’s Ecology program was the hands-on learning during field labs, like field survey techniques, wildlife identification, and timber cruising methods,” said Greg. “The most challenging part of my studies was the university-level academic courses in technical writing, Chemistry and Biology during second year.”

While he was a student Greg worked and studied part-time and volunteered for minor basketball and soccer. Earning a two-year diploma part-time can stretch the program to more than three years. Greg was determined and in 2013 he graduated with an Applied Coastal Ecology Diploma.

“My instructors were very helpful and knowledgeable,” said Greg. “I had felt supported by the staff my entire time at NWCC in Prince Rupert and I am grateful for their help. But the best supporter I have to thank is my wife,” he said. “My previous work experience and knowledge of living off the land and the sea have also been a big part of my success in the Ecology program.”

Greg was hired as a fisheries technician for the Gitxaala Nation and has been working there for the past five years. He does coastal monitoring and assessment work that involves stream walks, crab surveys, abalone surveys, on-land monitoring and other duties that relate to coastal ecosystems.

“I am very proud to be a part of our Gitxaala Fisheries Program,” said Greg. “Our traditional ways of living off the land are under a lot of pressure from industries, climate change and growing populations. I recommend the Applied Coastal Ecology program to future students because it’s useful to people who want to learn about coastal resources and help keep our seafood, plant life and trees healthy.”

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