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Spring Gillard
info@gardenheart.ca

A Matter of Degrees

In 1979, after graduating from the University of Victoria with a degree in French and linguistics, I had no idea what to do with my life. I was working at Safeway in Victoria as a cashier when I got word that I had been awarded a monitorship at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres. I had applied, but it was long past the time when I should have heard, so I had written it off. The last minute offer meant I had to completely uproot my life in about ten days. I was terrified and wasn’t sure I wanted to go. But two of my French profs sat me down and said if I didn’t get on that plane, they would drag me on board themselves. Then my parents flew into town and helped convince me to go. So off I went to school for another year and taught conversational English to students in exchange. The university organized many cultural activities for us too, visits to the maple sugar cabins, late night ice fishing on the river during the winter, theatre outings in Montreal. A very rich experience.

I also met a guy there. He was from Toronto. We spent the summer in Quebec City working as waiters. Then I headed back to Victoria, he went back to Trois-Rivieres to complete his degree. I started a Master of Arts in French literature at UVic. I only did one course though before heading back to Trois-Rivieres to finish off the year with the guy. I taught English at Berlitz, then we both moved to Toronto.

I was working as a waitress again, when I decided enough was enough and began seeking a career in advertising. While in Toronto, I also toyed with the idea of doing an MBA, it was the degree of the day. I studied for the GMAT – the exam measures your suitability for graduate business studies. I was definitely not suited and flunked with flying colours. Meanwhile, the guy decided to do his law degree in Ottawa. Long story short, the ad agency job and the relationship ended and I moved to Vancouver. I got work at CFUN Radio, officially launching my copywriting career. Life unfolds, but usually not according to plan and sometimes accompanied by heartache.

Here I am, 33 years after graduating from UVic, about to go back to school. I’ve been accepted at UBC to do a Master of Arts in Adult Education. Do I really need another degree? Not sure. Last time around, it was the guy who influenced the course of events as much as the degree. We’ll see how things unfold this time.

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