Few high school students have worked as hard to graduate as Thomasina Sewap.
At one point, the Wesmor Public High School valedictorian was living in a shelter and struggling to support her infant son Chase, all while navigating the world of classes, exams, group projects and assignments.
However, on Tuesday, all of those struggles paid off. Sewap was one of more than 50 Wesmor graduates who walked across the E.A. Rawlinson stage to receive a high school diploma. The day was years in the making, and words were hard to come by when it finally arrived.
“I feel very accomplished,” Sewap chuckled following Tuesday’s ceremony. “I’m excited for university. I don’t know. I’m just excited because I finished high school.”
Although her name is the only one on her diploma, Sewap insists the accomplishment is a team effort. She said her son inspired her every day to push hard regardless of the obstacles or difficulties that were thrown in front of her.
Wesmor’s teachers, daycare workers and other staff members also played a role, going above and beyond what was required in an effort to help her graduate.
“Sometimes because I lived in a shelter I’d come to school hungry. I couldn’t afford to buy my own food,” Sewap remembered. “The daycare bought me socks and (the staff) used to give me frozen lunches to take home. They didn’t really have to do that, but they did. I’m so blessed and so thankful.”
For Wesmor teachers, seeing students like Sewap clear those hurdles and graduate is a bittersweet experience. Principal Gina Sinoski said it’s tough to say goodbye to the graduating class of 2018. However, she’s also impressed with the effort they put into graduating, and confident they’re ready to take the next step.
“It warms your heart,” she said. “I think of their courage and their perseverance and their hard work, the staff who loved them all year long and supported them to get them their and their families. They have overcome many things and they have so much to offer our future.”
In her speech to the graduates, Sinoski lauded this year’s grad class for being fantastic role models for Wesmor’s younger students. Regardless of what difficulties they faced, teachers and staff could count on them to show up and work hard.
In return, she hopes they take a little bit of Wesmor with them when they leave.
“I hope that they will take the sense of community, the sense of giving back, the sense of supporting each other and the belief that they can make a difference,” she said. “That they have it in themselves to have a future.”
That’s a sentiment the school’s valedictorian can get behind. In the fall, Thomasina Sewap is headed to the University of Regina to try and get into Law or Business. During her last speech to her peers, she encouraged them to not be satisfied with their current achievements. Like Sinoski, she hopes the grads of 2018 keep pushing forward.
“I don’t want them to just sit around and be like, ‘oh, I graduated. I’m done,’” Sewap said. “I want them to be like, ‘I can do so much more.’”