‘It’s a dream come true’, Durham student says

There’s nothing like getting a second chance. Just ask Dawn Hamilton.

There’s nothing like getting a second chance. Just ask Dawn Hamilton.

The 38-year-old Uxbridge woman graduated from college in 1997 with a diploma in business administration that included a major in environmental waste management, an area she had hoped to make her career.

She was able to get a job — a good job. Unfortunately, it wasn’t related to her field of interest.

But soon — if all goes according to plan — she will be fulfilling her initial career aspirations, thanks to the provincially funded Second Career program (secondcareerontario.com).

The program helps workers who have been recently laid off return to school for upgrading and retraining.

“It feels great. I’m getting a second crack at something I really wanted to do,” says Hamilton, who is studying to be a water quality technician at Durham College in Oshawa. “It’s a dream come true.”

She explains she attempted to establish a career related to her studies when she graduated more than a decade ago, but opportunities were few and far between. After a lengthy but fruitless search, she took a job as a manager at Bombardier.

She was there for six years before being laid off in 2002. She started a home-based daycare business, but never lost sight of her initial objective.

“I was always thinking about getting back to my original plan, but it’s not as easy as you think,” she says. “The biggest problem was that my (post-secondary) education was obsolete.

“I just couldn’t get (a job) anywhere. A lot can change in 10 years and I just didn’t have the new requirements.”

After she closed her daycare business in 2007, she began working for a collection agency. But shortly after she started, she was laid off.

“I was at my wit’s end ... it was hard,” says the single mother of three young children. “I didn’t know where to turn.”

She heard about the Second Career program and instantly thought: “This is for me.”

Sue Hawkins, Durham College’s Second Career adviser, says the program was created by the provincial government to help recently unemployed workers make the transition to new careers in growing areas of the economy. It’s available through most Ontario colleges.

With financial assistance from Second Career, Hamilton is enrolled in Durham’s water quality technician program, which will qualify her for many positions at a water purifying plant.

As part of the program, she is currently working at the Beaverton water pollution control plant as an operator in training.

“It’s a great job. I love it,” says Hamilton. “It would be great to work out of here.”

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