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Our Northern Lights: Emma Franks

On , In College News, Financial Assistance, People & Culture, Students

Our Northern Lights is an initiative that illuminates 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.

Emma Franks, a single mom, wasn’t sure what she was going to do. It was the height of the pandemic and she had been laid off from her job washing heavy machinery because only one person was allowed in the wash bay at a time. She had decided to try and move into a new role as a driver and was working on getting her license, but there was a problem: she was informed that she was legally blind and would not be allowed to drive.

“I had a pity party for about a year. And then I was like, you know, nobody gets anywhere with just accepting, and so I came to Northern Lights College to kind of explore my options.  And I really love doing taxes and things like that, and that’s how I ended up in ABT.”

ABT stands for Applied Business Technology and is a program that prepares students for work in an administrative environment. It’s a one-year, full-time course and is offered in person and online.

Like many students at NLC, Emma needed to do some upgrading before she could start her desired program, so her first year at Northern Lights College, she was in the Career and College Preparation (CCP) program. CCP provides students with the prerequisites to apply to their program of choice and the tuition is free for domestic students.

“The CCP instructor here [Taiya Poulin] was incredibly helpful. When I was completely stumped or I was completely frustrated, just done and didn’t want to do it, she just kept encouraging me to try different ways to help me learn, because not everybody learns the same way.”

Armed with her prerequisites and a stockpile of resilience, Emma began the ABT Program in the fall of 2022. She wasn’t under any impression that it would be easy; she was a single mom who was legally blind and was going back to school full-time in a demanding program.

“I’m so incredibly grateful because a lot of my assistive technology tools are funded by Northern Lights College.”

She was surprised, however, about the assistance available to her as a student with access needs. A computer was set up in her classroom with an extra-large screen. She was provided accessible copies of her textbooks as well, all through Access Services.

“I’m so incredibly grateful because a lot of my assistive technology tools are funded by Northern Lights College.”

As for attending full-time studies as a single parent, Emma was originally worried about missing class if her kids were sick.

“I mean, being a single parent, you don’t really have options, and to miss just one day of school throws you about a month behind.”

But she was relieved to discover the understanding and flexibility offered to her from her instructor, Patricia Lamusse.

“There was nobody else, and I have no family here. I’m a single mom with no other options. If my kid came home sick, I had to be in class. Here at the campus, my instructor was like ‘Just let her come in, you know, let her rest her head’.”

As she heads towards graduation, Emma is grateful for the help she received and wants folks thinking about going back to school to know that supports are available.

“If you’re worried about childcare, there are options here at Northern Lights. If you’re worried about funding, or tuition, and things like that, there’s lots of different funding…It has been nothing but pushing me to succeed in my dreams. And that’s what I love about being here at Northern Lights College.”

To learn more about Emma, read on:

What is your first NLC Memory?

How supportive the staff were while I was filling out my application.

What three words describe your NLC experience?

Caring. Hectic. Fun.

What would you tell another student if they were thinking of coming to NLC? Or the ABT Program?

It’s a great learning environment. Supportive faculty. There are tons of activities outside the classroom. Chetwynd campus has worked with me to provide my course remotely because I have a disability and cannot drive to the Dawson campus that’s how helpful they are! I am on a fixed income, and they have provided numerous financial aid suggestions and help to ensure my dream of graduating can happen.

What has been the best part of your program?

My instructor Patricia Lamusse. She has been supportive, encouraging, and helpful in so many ways. If I didn’t understand she would help talk me through until I could. Her sense of humor helps ease the stress of learning as well! All around amazing instructor!

Why did you choose your program?

I enjoy accounting and hope to open my own bookkeeping business.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in one year? How about five years?

I hope to be enrolled in the Canadian Bookkeeping Certification. In the next five years I hope to have opened my business and bought a house!