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In pursuit of a career


With a new school year fast approaching, many area students will be scrambling to enjoy another day at the beach or a late-night stint watching movies before they hit the books next week.

For 18-year-old Crozier resident Jennifer Sletmoen, the next seven or eight days will be centred around packing her bags and squeezing in a few more hours at her summer job at the Fort Frances Public Library.

Come Tuesday, Sletmoen will say so long to the familiar walls of home and head to the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where she will begin as first-year classes Sept. 10.

Sletmoen plans to major in Sciences, with the prospect of going on to veterinarian school after two years.

“Finally, I’m doing something that directly goes towards the path of my career,” she said Monday during a break from work.

A self-described “saver,” Sletmoen has banked enough bucks over the last few years to help pay more than half of her first-year tuition, with some money set aside for her second year.

“I saved lots, probably 65-70 percent in the last three years,” she said, noting scholarships totalling $3,600 also had gone towards the tuition, as well as financial help from her parents.

Sletmoen, who chose single accommodations in U of M residence, said even though she was looking forward to being on her own, the prospect of having to doing everything for herself was a bit overwhelming.

“I have to buy all this stuff, like my own ‘Tide,’” she smiled.

Also bound for their first year at the U of M are Angela and Jennifer Bujold of Fort Frances, 18-year-old identical twin sisters and Fort High honour roll students who are pursuing careers in education.

In preparation for acceptance into the Faculty of Education, the teens will major in English. But their “minor” paths will differ, with Angela’s in music and Jennifer’s in French.

Both teens see university life as a chance to test their individuality a bit more than home-life allows since they will be living apart in residence.

“I’m sure we will see each other quite a bit but we’ll enjoy having a break [too],” Angela Bujold reasoned.

“They have to have their own space,” agreed mom, Carol. “They thought about bunking together to cut expenses but they have their own habits.

“If they want to be sisters [there], they can be or they can ignore each other for a week if they want to,” she chuckled.

The Bujolds worked through the summer (at Betty’s and Master Media respectively), banking most of their earnings to pay for university books and other supplies.

“We also applied for loans and scholarships,” said Jennifer. “There are about 20 to 30 different scholarships you can apply for as honour students.”

Devlin resident Clayton Saunders, 19, is choosing the eastern route and heading to Carleton University in Ottawa on Tuesday. A history buff, he has chosen a four-year honours course and is hoping not to run into anyone he knows.

“One of the reasons I picked [Carleton] is because it’s far away,” said Saunders, who also worked at the library here this summer. “I want a different experience with different people and a chance to make new friends.”

Meanwhile, university veteran Christa McTaggart, 21, is headed back to the U of M for her third and final year. Another of the library’s summer staff, she plans to graduate with an arts degree and then study physiotherapy in southern Ontario.

And her interest in school isn’t just a passive one, she said, sporting a note of enthusiasm for a few more years of study.

“I find it rewarding to know when I’m done all this, it will give me a better chance to find a career I enjoy,” she smiled. “I always knew I would go beyond high school and my parents always encouraged it [but] they never pushed it.”

Parental encouragement was one piece of advice Sletmoen’s mother, Wilma, felt was crucial to the success of a teen’s decision to pursue the career of their dreams.

“Listen to them and know what they want and encourage them to go after it,” she stressed.

“Start asking them [early] what they want to do,” she added. “It’s a tremendous amount of decision-making and financially can be a big burden.

“And there’s one more thing,” she urged. “We all want [our children] to grow up--but enjoy those minutes with them while you can because they’re gone in [a second].”

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