From Addict to Addictions Counsellor: How Academic Upgrading is Helping Sarah Improve Her Life… and Community

TORONTO, April 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Sarah Chakasim moved to North Bay from an isolated Aboriginal community in James Bay for a new start and a better future – and Academic Upgrading is helping her to make that dream a reality.

"I made the decision to move to North Bay to help create a career and educate myself," says Sarah. "I had two high school credits, which meant I had to do some upgrading. I contacted Canadore College and met with the Academic Upgrading, program advisor and made plans to start upgrading my education. I began my academic studies daily with a goal to enter the Office Administration two year program."

"My hard work has paid off," she continues.  "I was accepted into the Office Administration program in 2011, and graduated in 2013. I am now enrolled in the Indigenous Wellness Addiction Prevention program. My new goal is to become an Aboriginal addictions counsellor."

"My past has helped me to be determined to do better in life for myself and my children. I was once addicted to drugs and alcohol and lived a negative lifestyle. My sobriety began in 2008 and since then I have become a successful student and a proud mother to three children. My determination and success has shown me that change can happen to anyone, anywhere. Without the Academic Upgrading program assisting in my new transformation, I wouldn't have this success and stability in my life."

At Ontario's 24 colleges, learners of all ages and academic backgrounds are receiving the help they need to enter or re-enter the career or college program of their dreams – often at no cost – through programs and services supported by the College Sector Committee for Academic Upgrading (CSC).

"The CSC provides a vital step on the ladder to success for people who want to qualify for the jobs or college programs that will move them forward in their lives and careers," explains Sue Menard, Executive Director of the CSC. "Almost 5,000 adults in Ontario benefitted from Academic Upgrading programs in 2013/2014."

Academic Upgrading programs are sponsored by Employment Ontario and the Foundation Skills Unit of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

SOURCE College Sector Committee for Academic Upgrading

Image with caption: "Academic Upgrading is Helping Sarah Improve Her Life… and Community (CNW Group/College Sector Committee for Academic Upgrading)". Image available at:

For further information: Robin MacKenzie, Director of Communications, CSC 289.251.7869; Sue Menard, Executive Director, CSC 416.363.9569; RESOURCES:


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College Sector Committee for Academic Upgrading

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