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Our Northern Lights: Christina Schindel

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Our Northern Lights is a platform that showcases our people, their stories, and celebrates their achievements. We hope that their journey will inspire others to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.

Christina Schindel isn’t the first person in her family to graduate from Northern Lights College. In fact, her dad fell in love with the Peace Region while earning his Red Seal as a welder at NLC in the ‘70s. When Christina was 12, her dad decided to move the family from their suburban life on Vancouver Island to a homestead in Arras.

After moving to the region, Christina was homeschooled on a farm with lots of hands-on learning. This posed a challenge when faced with sitting in a classroom in high school. When she heard about the Culinary Arts Dual Credit program, she jumped at the opportunity to get back to hands-on learning. She graduated from that program in 2007 and it has benefited her ever since:

“The skills that I learned in that program, and just the skills that I learned from working in kitchens, have been applicable to every job field that I have ever worked in, and I have been quite the career traveler.”

Working in culinary arts allowed Christina to stay active all while carrying out her true passion — connecting with people.

“It’s a very emotional thing. People don’t realize how emotional food really is. One of the best compliments I ever got in the world was when I was working up in the Yukon in a camp in the middle of nowhere and this old trucker guy came up to me and was almost in tears because my lemon meringue pie reminded him of his mom.”

The skills that I learned in that program, and just the skills that I learned from working in kitchens, have been applicable to every job field that I have ever worked in, and I have been quite the career traveler.

Christina wanted to continue to work with people, but in a different capacity. She had always dreamed of becoming a nurse but wasn’t sure she was academically ready to go into nursing school. Tammy, a Northern Lights College Career Advisor, suggested she begin by working with WorkBC to get funding for her education in Social Work. She would still be helping people, but the program would be more accessible to someone getting back into post-secondary education.

Christina found great success in the social work program as well as in her employment in social work. She has shown an extraordinary ability to meet and accept people where they’re at which has helped her make connections with folks who have faced serious challenges in their lives.

Social work is a demanding career, and doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything else — especially when you demonstrate the levels of compassion Christina does. She still dreams of becoming a nurse, but has recognized she needs to do some self-care before jumping back into full-time schooling.  

In the meantime, she is upgrading her sciences through NLC’s Career and College Preparation Program. When she’s ready, she knows she has the skills and the supports to be successful in the UNBC Baccalaureate of Nursing program and achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse.

To learn more about Christina, read on:

What three words describe your NLC experience?

Positive. Challenging. Valuable.

What would you tell another student if they were thinking of coming to NLC, or one of the programs you have taken?

Push yourself but know your limits. Make sure you’re taking into account your work hours outside of work and school Your second shift in your home. If you have that, your children, if you have children, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care will ensure you maintain the resilience needed to finish any program you choose to take.

Why did you choose your program?

Which one? I chose the Culinary Arts program because I needed some direction and structure in my life. It was an amazing experience, and I loved every moment of it, the skills I learned there have served me well through my life. I chose the social services worker diploma because I wanted to become more involved in my community and to expand my academic experience. I am currently working towards becoming a Registered Nurse because I now have the confidence to take on the program. I am excited for the many opportunities this degree will provide.

What is your superpower?

I am willing to explore as many options as needed to get the job/project completed. My learning strategies are flexible, this allows me to confidently take on new subjects and projects as I know the information is always out there if one is willing to look!

One of the reasons that I have been successful in my current career path, which is the most challenging career that I have ever taken on in my assorted history of careers, is that coming from such a non-traditional background and having overcome a lot of personal adversities  has allowed me to adopt a very open mindset when dealing with individuals who don’t fall into societal norms.

What have been the best parts of your programs?

I think we’re so blessed to have the [instructors] we have here in Dawson Creek. There’s something special about this little college, like the teachers really care, at least in all of the programs that I’ve been in. Yeah, they want to see you succeed. They are well-travelled, incredibly intelligent, incredibly educated individuals themselves who have chosen to live in a place where it is mid-March and it’s still dropping to -20 at night, and they’re willing to live here and share their experiences and their knowledge with us.

And you know there was never a time where I felt like I couldn’t reach out to an instructor and get help, and I truly mean that, like there was always somebody available if I needed it. Even the ladies in the office here are just beyond, truly.