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After-hours studying nets student a bronze medal

Donna Enos wins 2011 Governor General’s Academic award
Donna Enos accepts her award from UFV Provost Eric Davis.

Donna Enos is one of those people who have learned to roll with the punches life throws at you.

A few years ago, when Enos was in her mid-40s, she lost her job with a customs brokerage firm. Along with her income, she lost the sense of comfort and security she had enjoyed after working with the same industry for several years. She had to come up with a plan to pay the bills and to ensure she could sleep at night.

“I’ll never forget that day when around 30 or so of us were laid off all together,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘this can’t happen to me! I need an income, I need a job, I need stability.’ It was a very scary time.”

Switching careers is tough, and knowing that, in this day and age, you need an education, Enos decided she needed to go back to school. Luckily, she qualified for a skills-development program.

Since she’s got a knack for computers, she spent time researching post-secondary programs, and kept coming back to University of the Fraser Valley’s website. Two years ago, she took the plunge and enrolled in the university’s computer information systems diploma program.

“I was hunting for a good university and I was looking at everything from location, expense, reputation and a program that would help somebody like me. UFV stood out and I decided that I would try to go back to school.”

While she says she struggled in the program, Enos did amazingly well with her studies and earned a 4.33 grade-point average for her final 15 credits.

Her high GPA won her the 2011 Governor General’s Academic bronze medal, given to a student with the highest academic accomplishment in a diploma program.

The program’s co-op option was also a big attraction for Enos. She was happy to get a placement with Canada Border Services Agency, which led to a summer job, and that eventually led to her current full-time job at the Peace Arch border crossing near her home in South Surrey.

“My first priority was job security. I needed to have a good job and a steady income. It was so great to have a job that hopefully will turn into a permanent position.”

Enos admits heading back into the classroom in her 40s was challenging. But with the help and encouragement of her parents she put her mind to finishing the program and, while she struggled through some courses – particularly math – she was determined to graduate.

“Math was a definite stumbling block for me… it was very tough. Especially when we started using algebra and polynomials and I had not used algebra since high school in the ’80s. The other students were a great help, but I also have to thank instructor Tariq Nuruddin – he spent extra time with me, steering me in the right direction. I am so thankful he was able to stay after class and help me. He was a fantastic support and a great teacher.”

Nuruddin is not surprised that Enos has won the academic medal. He said Enos stood out because she always stayed after class to ask questions, frequently requested background reading material, was diligent with assignments and worked hard.

“She was not scared or ashamed to ask questions even if they seemed quite elementary to the rest of the class and because of this, she performed much better than the students who had been studying continuously throughout their lives,” he adds.

Enos was presented with her medal at a June 10 convocation.