MTMS is looking to highlight and share alumni success stories. Adrianna was part of the first-ever class at MTMS. We thank her for sharing her inspiring journey below.
I never imagined that I would be the first Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS) student to obtain further education after finishing high school and go on to secure not one, but two jobs in the beauty industry. My name is Adrianna. I am proud to be one of the sixteen, grade 6 students who bravely embarked on a life-changing educational journey in 2011 and even more proud to celebrate a decade and my journey, rooted in stability and resilience, with you.
I will forever be grateful to My Kokum for initiating a conversation about MTMS with me when I was in grade 5. After losing my mother, she insisted that the support and opportunities that the school would provide could help guide me in good ways. My Kokum was a residential school survivor, but she never let those experiences define her. She became a teacher and leader in her community. I admired and respected my Kokum, so I decided to go for the recruitment interview not really knowing how MTMS was different than the school I had been attending. My Kokum cared deeply for me and my cousins. Her Spirit and voice continue to guide me today. My personal journey had many positive experiences, but I also experienced my fair share of challenges.
When I look back now, what I truly appreciated about my time at MTMS were the small things, that made a big difference. I am grateful for the deep bonds and trusting relationships I have with the staff. The transportation to and from school meant I could attend every day. I did not go hungry because we received meals and snacks at school. We were introduced to such caring people like Granny Jean and Mr. Laprairie. They made us feel like we could achieve anything! The after-school enrichment programming was not only fun, but it also kept me out of trouble. The school embraced First Nations culture. The staff and students were so open to diversity and different cultures. Only once I was gone from MTMS, did I realize that this reality is not always the case. One of the most powerful moments was experiencing the Summer Retreat in Alberta. The week-long, out of province trip, was pivotal in changing my perspective of the world and showed me that there was more to life than the block I lived on in Regina.
My transition to high school was difficult. My Kokum passed away when I was in grade 8 and my dad was struggling. While grieving the loss, my home life became unstable. North Central was not the area where I wanted to attend high school and felt there would be more opportunities for me at Miller Comprehensive High School. Although I moved from one house to another during my high school years, I tried as best as I could and continued attending school. The Graduate Support Team at MTMS helped prepare me by providing me with supplies, a bus pass and the social-emotional support I needed at the time. I made great friends at Miller and enjoyed the teachers, but throughout high school, my living situation became increasingly more difficult and stressful. My attendance was getting progressively worse in grade 12 and I found out I was expecting a baby in January 2019.
While you might think this is difficult news and feel sorry for me – I believe the birth of Meilani changed the trajectory of my life. I realized quickly that I needed to finish high school. I had to think about more than just myself. I did not want to graduate late or drop out because I did not want to disappoint myself or the little girl, who calls me mom. Before my Kokum passed, she shared something with me that I live by today. She said that MTMS was providing me with the help I needed, and it was up to me to take it or not. Up to that point in time, I do not think I fully understood or embraced the magnitude of the help being offered, but when I needed it most, MTMS was always there for me. I am so glad my Kokum left that learning with me.
Looking back, I see now, the critical role that The Graduate Support Program (GSP) played in my life. The team helped me enroll at Adult Campus and provided me with a computer to complete the assignments. They helped me to access prenatal care, provided transportation to doctors’ appointments, gifted me with food hampers, and connected me with Four Directions Community Health Centre. The support through the GSP, provided the stability and resources I needed to complete my high school diploma on-time and learn how to drive, before Meilani was born. My experience has taught me, and I can confidently say that MTMS is very different than other schools. The positive relationships that students and their families forged with the staff, volunteers and the school community truly feel like family. MTMS was and continues to be support system in my life today.
After Meilani was born, I knew I needed to be healthy, set a good example and create a space for us to grow as a family. I wanted to pursue post-secondary education, but I knew a certificate would require less time and provide me with the immediate skills needed to work in the beauty industry. With the support of the College and Careers Coach at MTMS, I was able to enroll in the Style Academy’s Esthetician and Nail Technician programming. Through MTMS’s Post-secondary Support Program I was provided support with food, childcare, and the required beauty supplies essential for my vocational program. One day, I want to return to school and work towards a career in the health care field but for now, there is peace in the stability and opportunities that shape my life today. Once I leaned into MTMS’s model and realized I wanted the opportunities being offered, I was able to create a new narrative for myself and Meilani.
The social capacity we gained while at MTMS, helped with the connection to Miyosiwin Salon Spa where I was hired for my first job after completing the program at the Style Academy. I had the chance to learn from some very experienced and knowledgeable Estheticians and Hair Stylists and was then better able to gain employment at Coco Nail Lounge and Lush Beauty Bar, where I am currently.
The personal growth I have experienced in the last year is a celebration for me. Leaving behind unhealthy relationships and wanting more for Meilani and myself is a pathway to a life I know that I deserve. I know my journey is far from over, but at this stage I am not rich, and I am not poor. Right now, I am happily somewhere in between. At MTMS I learned, “that nobody rises to low expectations”. I will continue striving for excellence because I have a desire to be a good mom and I do not want Meilani to struggle in the same way I had to. The MTMS family encouraged me to explore opportunities and try new things while being supported in a positive environment. The staff, board members, volunteers, friends, and donors stuck by my side throughout the ups and downs of my journey.
Thank you for your contributions to MTMS. Because of you, it truly is a space where, over the years, I have felt loved, challenged, and celebrated. Thank you for being a part of this life-changing program and impacting my journey in positive ways.
- Adrianna Matechuck