Lisa graduated from Pathways Vancouver in 2020 after joining the program in 2018. Through Pathways, she received funding to attend a STEM and entrepreneurship program and got help applying to post-secondary programs. Today, Lisa is studying business at Simon Fraser University and looks forward to a career in consulting or non-profit.
For many high school students, graduation year is a demanding time that requires balancing school, work, exams, and post-secondary applications. But for the class of 2020—including Lisa—these demands were amplified by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Lisa, the impact of the pandemic was felt at home and at school. Both of her parents lost their jobs, and with many responsibilities adding up, she often found herself worrying about the future. This took a toll on Lisa’s mental health. “It got to a point where my counselor at my school would nag me to talk about my mental health,” Lisa explains. “But it always felt like I didn’t have the time to deal with it, between tests and big school projects.”
Amid a global crisis, Lisa, like many students, had to find new ways to be resilient and persevere. One way she came to do this was through her Pathways mentor. When Lisa was too busy to explore career options in high school, her mentor helped her set up meetings with professionals and pointed her to scholarship workshops. That’s how Lisa came to discover that when things get difficult, one valuable strategy is asking others to lend you a hand. “My Pathways mentor really helped.” Lisa recalls. “When she invited me to these events, I really got to connect with others. I wouldn’t have been able to do this by myself with all of the stress from school.”
As her relationship with her Pathways mentor grew, Lisa was able to find new ways to ask for help and talk about her mental health. These conversations were not easy to have at first. But in the comfort of a safe, one and one relationship with her mentor, Lisa was able to share her experiences and gain a new perspective. More so, Lisa felt empowered by relying on a trusted partner to get through hard times. “I’ve been more mindful of my mental health and of finding a balance between school and life,” Lisa explains. “That’s definitely something that my mentor emphasized.”
The future still looks uncertain for many, but Lisa and her classmates have a unique achievement under their belt: they graduated from high school during a global pandemic. It’s an experience that she’s not likely to forget anytime soon, and one that, like many students in her year, required a change in perspective and a focus on self-care. “If I think back to grade 10 or 11, I would have never imagined that things would look this way today. What I’ve learned is that it’s really important to just keep finding new ways to approach challenges and overcome barriers.”