Wednesday, December 29, 2010

40 after 40: Cathy Tremblay


As a child Cathy Tremblay wanted to be a teacher. But as she got older, low self-esteem convinced her that she would never amount to anything.

“My life became just about survival,” she says. “I was in a job for 15 years and I didn’t like it at all, but I had no hope to make any changes. I was stuck and dreamless.”

But Cathy still had a passion for helping people. Through a series of conversations with her daughter’s school counsellor, she found the courage and inspiration to apply to the Child and Youth Care Counsellor (CYCC) program at Douglas College.

But life continued to throw up barriers for Cathy. Shortly after she applied to the CYCC program she and her husband separated. She found herself on welfare, living in government housing and lining up for Christmas hampers. When she was assessed for entry into the CYCC program, she was told she wasn’t ready.

“I burst out crying on the spot. I had worked so hard to get to this point and I didn’t know what to do. After a second interview I was accepted into the program, but by then I had started to reevaluate my life. I felt that it was time for me to ‘go for the gold,’ and that to me meant going for my BA and into teaching.”


In 2009, after nine years at Douglas, Cathy received her BA in Psychology through the partnership program between Douglas College and the University of the Fraser Valley.

For the past two and a half years she has been Services Coordinator of the Douglas College Learning Centre at the New Westminster Campus, where she supervises up to 19 tutors each semester and spends time tutoring as well.

She marvels at the level of support she received from her instructors during her student days, and credits it for helping her get to where she is today.

“I was able to tell my instructors what was happening in my life. For example, my daughter was angry with me and our situation, so she scribbled all over my essay. I made her write a 'sorry' letter to the teacher and explain what had happened. My instructor actually wrote a letter back to my daughter accepting her apology and also telling her that her mom was doing well in class. Another time the same daughter deleted my essay from our computer. When I went to the instructor to explain my situation, he immediately gave me an extension.

“There are just so many fabulous stories to share.”

40 after 40 is a series showcasing our amazing grads and employees in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Check back every Wednesday and Friday for another inspiring story. See more about our 40th on our Anniversary page.