After graduating from Pathways Winnipeg in 2018, Say Pa was committed to giving back to the program that supported her throughout high school. By staying connected as a Pathways tutor, she heard about an alumni event that helped her meet a whole network of Pathways Winnipeg graduates. The sense of community inspired Say Pa to become a Student Parent Support Worker (SPSW), and most recently she joined the Alumni Ambassador program to create similar moments of connection for her peers.
When Say Pa reflects on the Pathways Program’s impact on her life, the first thing that comes to mind is the community it’s brought her. In 2019, Say Pa attended an alumni event where she connected with many cohorts of Pathways Winnipeg graduates. Say Pa was already involved as a tutor at her local program location after graduation, but hearing other students’ experiences in the program reaffirmed her decision to take on an expanded role. She applied to become a Student Parent Support Worker, a dedicated staff member who helps students receive the same support that she had at Pathways. “Pathways is my family—they’ve given so much to me that I want to give back,” Say Pa shares. “I want to give students the same feeling of belonging I received. Hopefully, one day, they’ll give back too.”
Say Pa’s dedication to helping others spans back to her childhood experience moving to Canada from Thailand. Initially a shy student, she credits the encouraging Pathways staff she had in high school for helping bring her out of her shell. Today, she’s working alongside those very same mentors to create a robust support system for other Winnipeg youth. “I don’t want students to ever feel alone. In this community in the North End, young people are very vulnerable. I was born in a refugee camp due to the civil war in Myanmar, so I know what it feels like to have nothing,” Say Pa explains. “I just want to be that person in their life who they know will be there to listen to them, or if they need help at school, they trust that I will find a solution with them.”
With the return to in-person programming post-pandemic, Say Pa’s focused on bringing back opportunities for face-to-face connection, not just for current students—but for program alumni as well. Inspired by the event that started it all for her, Say Pa recently started volunteering as a Pathways Alumni Ambassador, joining a group of passionate young people from across the country who ensure that graduates stay connected to the Pathways community after graduation. Say Pa attended the Alumni Ambassador Orientation Weekend last fall, where she got the chance to connect with her fellow Alumni Ambassadors for the first time. “It was so cool to connect and share my story with alumni from other locations. Even though the program is delivered differently in each community, we all have the same feeling toward Pathways.”