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Brittany's Story – A New Path
Brittany Tyerman had a strange encounter with her past. The 20 year old nursing student decided to reach out to an old friend from junior high. Brittany had been busy in the years since they had spoken, studying as a volunteer youth cadet with Edmonton Police Service (EPS) before making her way to university to immerse herself in medicine. She is a nursing student at the U of A now.
The afternoon they caught up, the old friend was taken aback at her success. “I totally thought we had lost you to drugs way back in grade nine,” she said to Brittany. This stark statement made Brittany reflect. “I wasn't living in reality then; I couldn't see that I was on a destructive path. Not until I was given the chance to turn myself around. I'm lucky that people cared enough to step in when they did.”
Brittany’s path branched with a visit to her school counsellor who pushed her to take part in an EPS/Canadian Forces program, offered by the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (N.E.T.) with funding from United Way. The 14 week paramilitary program was designed to teach youth to be aware of their personal responsibilities and individual abilities. The program helped course-correct teens, like Brittany, when they are making poor choices – choices that can often lead to a life in poverty.
Brittany began to thrive and the instructors noticed. Cracks started showing in their drill-sergeant-veneer when they told her how skillfully she handled the task of leading her group. “When someone you look up to tells you you’re capable of something you never would have imagined, it changes your whole outlook on life,” she says. Brittany carries that faith in her leadership abilities into her studies and work as a student nurse.
“All my life, all I wanted was a career that makes a difference in someone else’s life,” she says, as she thinks about the things that changed hers. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for United Way. I really just want to be able to help somebody else out, because I know how bad it is to be in an area of your life that you don’t want to be in. I know you can’t always necessarily get out of that alone, and people need to be able to rely on others to help them get to a better place,” says Brittany. “I would love it if I could be that person, to help somebody else get to a better place.”