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Douglas Wightman profile

Douglas Wightman

After discovering the possibilities of online learning, Douglas Wightman has found a new direction that he’s passionate about.
“I lost everything because of depression and not physically being able to work. Going back to school is an absolute clean slate.”

Online Learning Centre
Kincardine, Ontario

Area of Study
Welding Engineering Technology Inspection Advanced Diploma

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“I’m going to push my education level to
the max”

Douglas Wightman had a rough start to his learning journey, having dropped out of high school at 17 to hitchhike to Alberta, where he lived on the streets for a couple of years.

“Depression kicked in really hard and I didn’t understand what to do any more. I was a 45-year-old man with no direction. I didn’t want disability. I’m not afraid to work. People were suggesting that I go in a different direction and Contact North started that for me. They were right there from the beginning.”

“When I finally got my act together it took me a long time to finish my Grade 12,” Douglas says. “I was taking courses while I was working, then I got a road-construction job, then welding. I was a certified welder and did that off and on for almost 20 years, but then I had an accident. My knees are no good, so I can’t be kneeling on the concrete for hours on end. That totally brought me to a stalemate. Depression kicked in really hard and I didn’t understand what to do any more — I was a 45-year-old man with no direction.

“I didn’t want disability. I’m not afraid to work. People were suggesting that I go in a different direction and Contact North started that for me. They were right there from the beginning.”

Douglas started by taking courses like Excel, and although he was a bit intimidated by the technology learning curve, he was completely committed to learning.

“At first it was weird until you start getting used to the technology — you can back it up, pause, write notes. Once I got used to it, it was like a science,” he says.

In all, Douglas took about 15 courses ranging from biology and math to computer technology.

Now 47, this single father of two from Owen Sound has been accepted to the three-year Welding Engineering Technology Inspection Advanced Diploma at Conestoga College. He’s also received a $3,000 grant from Community Foundation Grey Bruce to help offset some of the costs of his education.

“I did some soul searching and thought, ‘Why waste my years of welding experience?’ “I’m going to push my education level to the max. I’m on a mission now.”

Douglas hopes his experience will help others see the infinite possibilities of online learning.

“I had lost everything because of depression and not physically being able to work,” he says. “Going back to school is an absolute clean slate.

“For someone who’s struggling in life and trying to figure out what they want to do, the first step is to learn something new. To break the pattern is to change the way you think and the way you do that is to educate your brain.

“I had it in me that I wanted to go back to school. Contact North were the ones to say, ‘There’s this, this and this.’ If you’re looking for it, you’ll find what you need.”