Health student profile: Colleen Leppky-Robertson
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Community, Family & Child Studies student Colleen Leppky-Robertson has excelled since starting at Camosun last year, overcoming initial hesitation about continuing her education. “I’d been a stay at home mum for 13 years, and I never ever thought I’d go back to school,” she says. “I really didn’t think I could.”
With 3 kids of her own, and 4 foster kids under her care, life was incredibly hectic but rewarding. “Being a mum and a foster parent were probably the best things I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. “I just love kids.”
After her marriage ended, she wanted to start afresh. “I just asked myself, what am I going to do now?” she says. “I’d always heard really good things about Camosun and I knew a few social workers who all recommended the college.”
Her first step was to find out more. “I met with staff at the Centre for Accessible Learning and they were incredibly supportive and helped me work through how to apply and what I needed to do,” she says. “Their encouragement was the reason why I decided to go back to school. I felt more comfortable and prepared to take on the challenge.”
At first, she enrolled in one course to try things out, worked hard and earned an ‘A.’ “It was pretty emotional really and I kept staring at the grade,” she says. “It felt good and I knew that I wanted to continue in an area that I was passionate about and make a career out of it.” When searching for the right program of study, Community, Family & Child Studies was a natural fit, drawing up her experience as a foster parent, former youth in care, and her passion for working with kids.
It proved to be the right choice, and her positive attitude, strong work ethic and openness to learning soon caught the attention of her instructors and classmates. “I think it was my second month in and my classmates told me they thought I’d make a good student representative,” she says. “After I met with the Dean Cynthia Smith, she said she thought I’d make a good student ambassador as well.”
Boosted by those votes of confidence from her peers and instructors, she has embraced both roles and hit the ground running. One of her first actions was to oversee a survey to all health and human services students in anticipation of the new Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness opening at Interurban. “We asked about transferring to the new building and how it could be made easier for them,” she says, “We asked about the value they’re getting from the programme and where they want to go into the future.” Her role is to represent students and she’s been involved with many meetings and planning sessions. “I’m here to listen and to help them make the most out of their Camosun experience,” she says.
For many students, the new health centre is top of mind. “It’s definitely very exciting,” she says. “I think it’s great that they’re bringing nature into the new building and integrating Indigenous elements--there’s going to be so much culture in the space that represents everybody. It’s really amazing!”
With plans for expansive student and interdisciplinary collaboration spaces, Leppky-Robertson anticipates the new building will be a game-changer. “There are going to be more spaces for people to study, hang out, and talk with each other,” she says. “With so many different programs in the same space, I think that’s going to have a big impact on everybody’s learning.”
As she prepares for the second half of her two-year program, Leppky-Robertson appreciates the value that Camosun puts on applied, real-world learning with experienced social workers often helping the students learn. “It’s one thing to learn your knowledge in class but when you get to talk to someone first-hand and gain first-hand experience, ask questions and get answers, then I think it really helps guide you and gives you a different sort of knowledge--a hands-on approach,” she says. “You remember their stories and it’s nice to hear it from somebody who’s also gone through challenges, and see that they’ve made it.”
In the future, Leppky-Robertson is considering continuing her studies and potentially working in the areas of child protection. Whatever path she chooses, she knows that Camosun will have prepared her well. “Everybody has challenges in life, but you really do feel like they want you to succeed here,” she says. “That’s been a huge boost for me and something that I hear from so many students. There are so many resources at Camosun to support students and to help students with their learning. You don’t ever have to feel like you have to do it alone.”
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Last updated: April 26, 2019 9:31 am