Challenges not too much for Sask Polytech graduate Petit

Sask Polytech Photo Tracey Petit overcame many challenges to graduate from Sask Polytech on Tuesday.

Hundreds of graduates crossed the E.A. Rawlinson stage on Tuesday at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Convocation Ceremony, but few did so with as much gratitude as Tracey Petit.

Tracey Petit graduated from Office Administration after returning to school to retain for a new position following a workplace injury. She paid her tuition with funds from the Workers Compensation Board.

Petit said she was both scared and relieved to finally take the next step on her new career path.

“I’ve always been a hands on person that always worked with people here. Now I’m going into a position, I started May 2, … where now I’m behind the scenes and it’s just it’s a big change for me,” she said. “I’m excited. It’s been a long road.”

Petit was working for the Saskatchewan Health Authority when she was injured in April 2019. The injury made it impossible to continue with her old job, and she was not sure what she wanted to do.

Eventually, she chose to study Office Administration so she could still work with the SHA as she had for 16 years.

“Now that I have restrictions, I have to think, what can I do?” she said. “With office administration, it gives me different opportunities to work anywhere within the organization.

“It’s been challenging because I’ve been out of school for 28 years, and then now I’m going back to learn everything.”

The WCB then connected Petit with Optimum Tutoring. She needed her GED and WCB helped get her set up with tutoring. Petit said she was grateful for the assistance, which put her in a great position to pass her classes. Still, it was challenging.

“I had all the tutoring, but now I had to go write these tests just to get my G.E.D.,” she explained. “There were only certain days I can go because of COVID. They were only open I think it was twice a week.”

Petit went once a week and wrote her test and didn’t make a deadline for some courses and she was worried. WCB then asked if it was possible to take online classes. Office Administration had already been going for four days.

“And I went in and they said to me, Oh, great news. We had somebody drop out. If you want to start full time. I (said), ‘oh my God, this is real now. Yes, I’m starting right now,’ so I did and it was really hard. It took me about a month to really understand the program, like to even turn on the computer and to find things…. The first day I went home, I cried to my family.”

Petit is a mother who struggles with extreme anxiety but managed to achieve exceptionally high grades while coping with the death of her father.

She also had to get over her discomfort with computers.

“People probably think, ‘she’s going into this stuff to do with computers,’ and I’m terrified of computers,” Petit said. “I’m going into this thing, going on computers, and I went home, (and) I balled. I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ When my kids were so supportive, my partner, they were like, ‘we think you’re going to do good,’” Petit said.

There were other supports like her teachers and fellow students.

“We encouraged each other,” Petit said. “We to go to the library on Sundays. It was hard. When they said, ‘oh, it’ll be about 3 to 4 hours of schooling and afterschool studying.’”

Her son and his family moved in with her and he went to Sask Polytech as well. She also had to move during final exams because of a rent increase.

“I was coming home making supper and then going straight into my room till about ten every night to do homework,” she remembered. “I felt I had this mom guilt because I’m a hands-on mom, (and) grandma, and I was completely overwhelmed with all of this homework.”

Petit added that she couldn’t have found her footing without the support she received from everyone.

“I was making time for myself and my family, but on Sundays was with my dad. I made priority to make sure my Sundays were with my dad. I lost my dad April 1 and it was really hard to move on,” Petit said.

That was during a time with assignments and finals when her father passed away and she received even more support.

“The teachers, they gave me options to finish certain assignments and knew that I couldn’t be there at that time and that they (said) ‘it’s up to you what you want to finish.’”
Petit explained that her grades were already great. She just had to finish assignments.

“I thought, ‘I worked so hard for this I need to get this done, so that’s what I did, finish my assignments and handed them in. (I) went and did my finals and I worked hard and I just received my certificate in the mail, honors with great distinction.”

Now Petit is working as an office scheduler for the SHA and said the whole experience was scary and exciting. There was a long list of people who helped her get to the end.

“Without the support of Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the WCB has been amazing to me, Optimum tutoring, I never thought I could learn that, but they are some CBI. That’s where I’ve been doing physio since I hurt myself. I continue to still do physio. It’s been four years and I’m still there. The staff at Sask Polytechnic and friends and family and especially my family,”

Her son’s convocation was also on Tuesday, but he had to work at his new job and could not attend.

“We’re a very close family, so having their support was awesome,” Petit said.

“He got hired as a corrections officer. Of course, we went to school together, so it was kind of neat. Everybody was like, ‘that never happens, a son and a mom went to school,’” she added.