Foundation’s help makes a big difference to Laura Kerr.  (Photo submitted)

Foundation’s help makes a big difference to Laura Kerr. (Photo submitted)

Mature student award a boost for those returning to studies in anticipation of a career change

Chemainus resident Kerr benefits from funding provided by Health Care Foundation

The Chemainus Health Care Foundation’s Mature Student Award is making a significant difference for Laura Kerr in her decision to switch careers.

Kerr, 43, who lives in Chemainus, was a business owner for more than 17 years after going to hairdressing school and running a salon in Ladysmith. She’s now working hard toward becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse through Discovery College in Nanaimo and “it’s pretty intense,” she said.

Not only is the program demanding, but the cost is high. “It’ll be about $40,000 for the two years,” Kerr noted.

She receives $1,000 this year and another $500 next year as part of her award from the Foundation.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic the Foundation does mature awards,” Kerr said.

She’s not unlike so many other people who now elect to do something different after several years in the same profession. Kerr has a year left on her program.

“I only go to school three days a week,” she pointed out. “I bet there’s three days a week of homework after that.”

Kerr continues to work as a hairdresser and a nail technician while completing her studies, but has switched to a mobile business “which is absolutely fantastic,” she indicated.

Many factors led Kerr to consider her alternate field of work, most notably a personal connection with someone who had cancer.

“That’s what made me get into the health care profession,” she reasoned.

Kerr is the daughter of Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary president Joan Kerr so she’s well aware of the local state of affairs in the industry.

Kerr is originally from the Yukon and lived in Dawson City until her late teens. She also spent time in Summerland before moving to Ladysmith and then Chemainus.

Kerr felt there was “no time like the present” to make a switch in her career path.

Her training includes a variety of practical experience and shadowing an LPN for many hours. Ideally, she’d like to stay close to home following the program’s completion.

“I’m going to try my darndest to get into Chemainus (Health Care Centre),” Kerr said. “That’s where I want to be. If I can’t, my second option would be Cowichan (Duncan) or Salt Spring Island.”